Is Transgender A Mental Illness?

The bold statement above was made by The Wall Street Journal who have just published an article claiming that transgender people are “mistaken” about their gender identity.

Laverne Cox, star of Orange is the New Black; One of the world’s best known transgender women

Once upon a time being gay was classed as a psychological disorder. One that required the so called “patient” to go through ridiculous and cruel mental treatments that lead to many problems for a generation of gay people.

Thankfully since the 1970s homosexuality has been declassified as a psychological disorder and becoming more and more acceptable across the world as we move through the 21st Century. Transgender people have not been so lucky, sadly.

And the latest blow came this week when an opinion piece appeared in The Wall Street Journal claiming that people with mistaken gender identity, were in fact mistaken about this gender identity.

Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Dr McHugh was psychiatrist-in-chief

The article was written by Dr Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr McHugh was until 2001 the hospitals director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. He was also psychiatrist-in-chief at the same hospital. He is currently the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

He has labelled being transgender as a “disorder.” Dr McHugh has compared it to psychological conditions such as bulimia and anorexia. He says that all three are from similar psychological streams and stem from similar problems.

This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.

He uses unmentioned and unnamed references which claim that 75-80% of children who present with transgender feelings at  at Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, later lost those feelings. They never received any gender altering treatments.

Of course that does leave 25% of patients to which McHugh states “what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.”

The Transgender Pride Flag

Johns Hopkins Hospital stopped performing sex-reassignemnt surgery in 2011. The reason behind this is cited by McHugh as research carried out by Karolinska Institute in Sweden. This research was conducted over 30 years on 324 patients who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery.

It found that about 10 years after the survey took place there was a massive increase in mental difficulties in this group of people. Suicide shockingly rose a massive 20-fold among these individuals compared with non transgendered individuals.

This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.

No research was conducted on the reason for these mental difficulties however. the research did not look at isolation, lack of human interaction, bullying etc as reason for the increase in peoples mental condition.

“People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinised women, states McHugh. “Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.”

Dr McHugh in his article also continually class transgender people transgendered. This is a derogatory term which many find offensive.

What are your thoughts on Transgender? Do you think it is a psychological disorder or is McHugh talking complete nonsense? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and stay up to date with all things gay by following on twitter and tumblr.

Irish x

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