Sex reassignment is as natural as being born, some in the media tell us. And many Americans are buying it.
But a growing chorus of dissenters made up of physicians, researchers, and even transgender individuals is beginning to paint a far different picture of the truth.
These dissenters are now coming forward to expose just how harmful gender transition and reassignment are—both medically and sociologically speaking.
First, consider recent revelations about how problematic sex reassignment surgery is as a therapy for gender dysphoria.
In an interview with The Telegraph, world-renowned genital reconstructive surgeon Miroslav Djordjevic said his clinics are experiencing an increase in “reversal” surgeries for those who want their genitalia back. These people express crippling levels of depression and, in some instances, suicidal thoughts.
In male-to-female reassignment surgery, doctors such as Djordjevic transform the man’s genitals into the shape of a vagina, removing the testicles and inverting the penis.
In female-to-male reassignment surgery, doctors remove the woman’s breasts, uterus, and ovaries, and extend the urethra so that the woman-turned-man can urinate from the standing position.
A recent Newsweek article takes note of Djordjevic’s concerns, illustrating their legitimacy by pointing to the case of Charles Kane, a man who underwent male-to-female reassignment surgery.
In a BBC interview, Kane explains that he decided to have the initial surgery immediately after having a nervous breakdown. But after having the surgery and identifying as a female named “Sam Hashimi,” Kane soon regretted the decision and went for reversal surgery.
“When I was in the psychiatric hospital,” Kane said, “there was a man on one side of me who thought he was King George and another guy on the other side who thought he was Jesus Christ. I decided I was [a girl named] Sam.”
Similarly, Claudia MacLean, a transgender woman, is quoted as saying her psychiatrist referred her to a sex reassignment surgeon after having only a 45-minute consultation. “In my opinion,” MacLean said, “what happened to me was all about money.”
Given that clinics charge up to $50,000 for reassignment surgeries, Djordjevic says he fears that doctors are stuffing their bank accounts without concern for the physical and psychological well-being of their patients.
Physical and psychological well-being should be a concern, given that 41 percent of transgender people will attempt suicide at some point in their lives, and people who have had sex reassignment surgery are approximately 20 times more likely than the general population to die by suicide.
In addition to the problems inherent to sex reassignment surgery, we should recognize the troublesome nature of giving hormonal “treatments” to gender dysphoric children to delay puberty.
In a recent paper, “Growing Pains: Problems with Puberty Suppression in Treating Gender Dysphoria,” endocrinologist Paul Hruz, biostatistician Lawrence Mayer, and psychiatrist Paul McHugh challenge this practice.
They note that approximately 80 percent of gender dysphoric children grow comfortable in their bodies and no longer experience dysphoria, and conclude that there is “little evidence that puberty suppression is reversible, safe, or effective for treating gender dysphoria.”
Thus, scientific evidence suggests that hormone-induced puberty suppression is harmful and even abusive.
What is often overlooked in these debates is the troublesome and even dangerous situation created when transgendered “females” compete in female athletic competitions.
Consider the 2014 women’s mixed martial arts bout between Tamikka Brents and Fallon Fox. During a two-minute beating, Brents suffered a concussion, an orbital bone fracture, and a head wound requiring seven staples.
“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night,” said Brents.
As it turns out, her opponent, Fox, wasn’t born female. She is a biological male who identifies as transgender.
Brents thought Fox had an unfair advantage. “I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor,” said Brents. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.”
Brents was right to consider Fox’s advantage unfair: The physical differences between men and women are significant enough that professional female fighters cannot compete effectively against other professional male fighters.
Given all this, why do we not see a more constructive and sustained public debate among surgeons, psychiatrists, and lawmakers about the ethics of sex reassignment?
The most significant reason is the power of the transgender lobby.
Consider psychotherapist James Caspian’s recent claim that Bath Spa University in the United Kingdom refused his application to conduct research on sex reversal surgeries because the topic was deemed “potentially politically incorrect.”
According to Caspian, the university initially approved his research proposal, but later rejected it because of the backlash it expected from powerful transgender lobbies.
Regardless of how politically incorrect the evidence may be, and even while we accommodate the privacy and safety concerns of those who identify as transgender, we must also draw a sober and honest conclusion about the human costs of sex reassignment.
The best medical science, social science, philosophy, and theology coalesce. As Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Ryan Anderson puts it, they reveal that sex is a biological reality, that gender is the social expression of that reality, and that sex reassignment surgeries and treatments are therefore not good remedies for the distress felt by people with gender dysphoria.
The most helpful therapies for gender dysphoria, therefore, will be ones that help people live in conformity with the biological truth about their bodies.
Bruce Ashford is provost and professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the co-author of “One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics,” and blogs at “Christianity for the Common Good. Twitter: @BruceAshford.
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