03 July 2014

Disinformation In The Service Of Hate

One of the easiest ways to make an inaccurate case against--or simply to slander someone or something--is to use outmoded or discredited information that many people don't know (or don't want to know) is outmoded or discredited.

That is essentially what pyschiatrist Paul McHugh did last month in a Wall Street Journal editorial.  He characterized trangenderism as a "disorder", something the DSM no longer does.  He also cited the studies showing poor outcomes for people who underwent gender-reassignment surgery.  Those studies led to the closure of the Johns Hopkins program in 1979.  But surgeries as well as psychotherapy and other treatments for transgenders have improved greatly since then.  With those developments have come greater understanding among the general public about what transgender people are.  (Whenever I remember that, I am grateful I transitioned in my 40's and my early 50's rather than in my 20's!).   

Fortunately, Dan Karasic got wind of it and responded as only he could.  Dr. Karasic is conversant with the most recent studies of, and treatments for, transgenders.  That's no surprise, really:  He's on the Board of Directors for the World Professional Association of Transgender Health.   More to the point, he approaches transgenderism as a scientist and health professional and does not let ideology or warped religious ideas cloud his thinking.

He notes that since 1989, the mortality rate for trans people is not significantly different from that of the general population.  Moreover, the "regret rate" of those who had surgery between 2001 and 2010 (which includes yours truly) is only 0.3 percent.   Can you think of any other human endeavor with such a low percentage of people who regret doing it?  (Before I began this post, I talked to two women who told me that if they "could do it all over again," they wouldn't get married.)

Anyway, as we start to gain our rights and greater acceptance from society, there will be folks like McHugh who will try to use outmoded studies and stereotypes to cast us in a negative light.  Fortunately, if we keep ourselves informed, it won't be hard to debunk their hokum.

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