A major new study of sexuality and gender by two of the top experts in the field at Johns Hopkins University finds there’s little scientific evidence for the “born that way” theory, nor is gender identity “an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex.”
But the authors, Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul McHugh, expressed alarm at the developing trend in the United States of parents declaring their child to be transgendered and subjecting the child to hormone treatments, behavioral adjustments and even surgery.
Mayer is a scholar-in-residence in the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University.
McHugh is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and was for 25 years the psychiatrist in chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Children who express any identification of the opposite gender almost always leave those expressions behind as they grow, the scholars argue.
“Despite the scientific uncertainty, drastic interventions are prescribed and delivered to patients identifying, or identified, as transgender. This is especially troubling when the patients receiving these interventions are children,” the authors wrote in the study, “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” published in The New Atlantis.
“We read popular reports about plans for medical and surgical interventions for many prepubescent children, some as young as six, and other therapeutic approaches undertaken for children as young as two.
Related article (story continues below):
“We suggest that no one can determine the gender identity of a two-year-old. We have reservations about how well scientists understand what it even means for a child to have developed sense of his or her gender, but notwithstanding that issue, we are deeply alarmed that these therapies, treatments, and surgeries seem disproportionate to the severity of the distress being experienced by these young people, and are at any rate premature since the majority of children who identify as the gender opposite their biological sex will not continue to do so as adults.
“Moreover, there is a lack of reliable studies on the long-term effects of these interventions. We strongly urge caution in this regard.”
See a discussion of the study:
The 143-page report focuses on the higher rates of mental health problems, including a stunning 40 percent suicide attempt rate for transgenders.
Both authors looked at hundreds of peer-reviewed studies across fields of epidemiology, genetics, endocrinology, psychiatry, neuroscience, embryology and pediatrics.
They found claims that people are “born that way” are unsupported by science, gender is not necessarily a “fixed human property,” “only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood” and “non-heterosexual and transgender subpopulations have higher rates of mental health problems (anxiety, depression, suicide), as well as behavioral and social problems (substance abuse, intimate partner violence), compared to the general population.”
“This report is about science and medicine, nothing more and nothing less,” Mayer wrote in a statement. “Cultural and political trends should not influence the reality of the importance of dealing with these difficult and personal issues. As citizens, scholars, and clinicians concerned with the problems facing LGBT people, we should not be dogmatically committed to any particular views about the nature of sexuality or gender identity; rather, we should be guided first and foremost by the needs of struggling patients, and we should seek with open minds for ways to help them lead meaningful, dignified lives.”
The study was the second time President Obama’s pro-transgender agenda has been hit with a double-whammy in one day. Just hours earlier, a federal judge in Texas ordered a suspension nationwide of Obama’s mandate that public schools accommodate all transgender students by letting people use the restroom and shower room of the gender with which they “identify.”
The first double hit came earlier this month, when the Supreme Court halted an order that a school district let a girl use the boys’ shower room, and a Florida pastor suggested a plan for parents of non-transgender students to protect their children.
The U.S. Supreme Court order temporarily blocked a ruling allowing a high-school student in Virginia to use the facilities for the opposite sex until the high court decides whether it will take the case.
Pastor Carl Gallups, author of “Be Thou Prepared: Equipping the Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble,” said he posted online a “Notice of Compliance Letter” to be used by parents to protect their children. It has been downloaded thousands of times already.
According to the Obama administration’s own “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students,” schools have “a responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, including transgender students.”
Furthermore, “harassment that targets a student based on gender identity, transgender status, or gender transition is harassment based on sex, and the departments enforce Title IX accordingly,” the Obama administration said.
Solutions can include “individual-user options” being made available to all students who voluntarily seek additional privacy.
Gallups simply notes Title IX also applies to non-transgendered children. Therefore, parents can use the letter he has prepared to obtain safe, “harassment free” accommodations for their children. This means they can have individual-use accommodations, without having to be exposed in sensitive situations to people who “identify” as a member of the opposite sex.
The new study concludes that much more research is needed on the “complex, complicated questions concerning the nature of human sexuality.”
“In reviewing the scientific literature, we find that almost nothing is well understood when we seek biological explanations for what causes some individuals to state that their gender does not match their biological sex. The findings that do exist often have sample-selection problems, and they lack longitudinal perspective and explanatory power,” the researchers wrote.
One key factor that deserves study is the “increased rates of mental health problems in the LGBT subpopulations.”
Also in the study were discussions regarding whether genes and hormones are associated with sexual behaviors; the concept that “sexual orientation may be quite fluid over the life course for some people, with one study estimating that as many as 80 percent of male adolescents who report same-sex attractions no longer do so as adults”; a possible link between childhood sexual abuse and non-heterosexuality, the higher risk of depression, substance abuse and risk of suicide among those who are “non-heterosexual”; and the fact that adults who have sex-reassignment surgery remain discontent.
One study found that, compared to controls, sex-reassigned individuals were about five times more likely to attempt suicide and about 19 times more like to die by suicide, the report said.
The researchers address sexual orientation, finding that there are “no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation.”
They do note that “social stressors such as discrimination and stigma contribute to the elevated risk of poor mental health outcomes for non-heterosexual and transgender populations” and that only about one-half of one percent of the U.S. adult population identifies “as a gender that does not correspond to their biological sex.”
They concluded: “More research is needed to uncover the causes of the increased rates of mental health problems in the LGBT subpopulations. The social stress model that dominates research on this issue requires improvement, and most likely needs to be supplemented by other hypotheses. Additionally, the ways in which sexual desires develop and change across one’s lifespan remain, for the most part, inadequately understood. Empirical research may hep us to better understand relationships, sexual health and mental health.”