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2014-06-25 Reply to Paul McHugh, former Johns Hopkins head psychiatrist

posted 25 Jun 2014, 09:17 by Cake Kidd   [ updated 30 Jul 2014, 04:53 ]

Heya, just a one-topic note today:

Paul Mc Hugh, former psychiatrist at the infamous Johns Hopkins Hospital wrote in the Wall Street Journal (of all magazines!) that gender dysphoria is a confusion, a mental disorder and that “surgery isn’t the solution”. He mentions one study to support his view (“Long-term follow-up of transsexual persons undergoing sex reassignment surgery: cohort study in Sweden” by Dhejne et al., PLOS One, 2012), which you can find on my other references page. That study has researched 324 transsexuals after surgery and found they were worse off than controls, for example when measuring suicidal behaviour.

While this is correct, Paul McHugh neglects to mention at least three things: Firstly, the study looked only at transsexuals after surgery, there was no comparison to transsexuals before surgery. Therefore, the study is simply not addressing the question whether surgery is beneficial or harmful.

Secondly, the same author finds in a newer study (Dhejne et al., “An Analysis of All Applications for Sex Reassignment Surgery in Sweden, 1960–2010: Prevalence, Incidence, and Regrets”, Archives of sexual behavior, 2014) with 767 transsexuals (including the same individuals from the 2012 article) that 97.8 % of transsexuals were satisfied with having the surgery done – implying they judge their situation to have improved.

Thirdly, another study from Sweden (Landén, “Transsexualism. Epidemiology, phenomenology, regret after surgery, aetiology, and public attitudes”, Doctoral thesis, 1999), looking at 233 Swedish transsexuals (again, the same people included in some of the other studies) quotes some of the factors responsible for regret of surgery, for example: “poor support from the family”. So here we have the usual problem: transsexualism doesn’t cause major distress by itself, it is society’s reaction that causes problems.

So, that study doesn’t support Paul McHugh’s conclusion at all. Another study he quotes is 1970s Johns Hopkins study... way too old to be included on this website. However, what you can find on the what helps page, is a list of about 60 recent studies providing evidence that surgery helps.

Considering the extremely selective fact-picking by Paul McHugh, I find it both outrageous and tiresome that he continues to feel it’s his right to tell the public that he knows better what’s good for transsexuals than transsexuals know themselves. Oh, and, naturally, we are confused and mentally disordered... so disregard what I just said... it’s just my illness speaking... Surely, articles like that help to cut down on transphobia and increase public understanding and tolerance. 😏

Anyway, don’t let your day get ruined by nasty old psychiatrists, do something fun! Take care!