In the 1970s John’s Hopkins was one of the places you could go to have reassignment surgery performed. The procedure was essentially the same, although there have been many improvements since. However, one notable improvement in the process had not happened yet. The Benjamin rules hadn’t taken over.
Virtually anyone could ask for the surgery and many did. There were lots of cases of regrets. Boyfriends who changed for their gay friend but ended up rejected and permanently altered and scarred. Bisexuals, cross dressers and a lot of others who are not appropriate as candidates under current guidelines.
Paul McHugh went to John’s Hopkin’s to end the GCS program. While I have a great deal of problem with what he’s done since, and the damage his methods caused, I have a begrudging respect that he saw a relatively hideous situation and wanted to rectify it. Clearly not doing it was better than doing it with no regard for it being appropriate.
Here’s a modern quote, not out of context, to bring his attitude clear:
Publicity, especially from early examples such as “Christine” Jorgenson, “Jan” Morris, and “Renee” Richards, has promoted the idea that one’s biological sex is a choice, leading to widespread cultural acceptance of the concept. And, that idea, quickly accepted in the 1980s, has since run through the American public like a revelation or “meme” affecting much of our thought about sex.
The champions of this meme, encouraged by their alliance with the broader LGBT movement, claim that whether you are a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, is more of a disposition or feeling about yourself than a fact of nature. And, much like any other feeling, it can change at any time, and for all sorts of reasons. Therefore, no one could predict who would swap this fact of their makeup, nor could one justifiably criticize such a decision.
At Johns Hopkins, after pioneering sex-change surgery, we demonstrated that the practice brought no important benefits. As a result, we stopped offering that form of treatment in the 1970s.
Never mind that his opinion is now well past a minority opinion and that his support as a medical expert is causing and has caused pain and harm to transgender people throughout the US. Give the man his due, he remains unshakable in the face of facts.
It’s hard to say why their studies showed no benefit in the 70s. They may have confused depression, anxiety and suicide as a result of a person’s being transgender with the results of treatment, or it may be that the effects in their population were small because there were many inappropriate recipients.
In the article quoted from he goes on to say that transgenderism is increasing in frequency and showing up in kids as if this is a caused phenomenon. For a man who supposedly of science he sure relies a great deal on rhetoric rather than fact for his points. Ridicule of Caitlyn Jenner, his way of saying trans people can’t become biologically the opposite sex as if we thought that was truly what was happening and were wandering around in a deluded haze.
I cannot, of course, say what has determined the course of McHugh’s life, but it really seems to me that he went from being a person who was perhaps understandably against those surgeries given the mores of the time and the status of both homosexuality and transsexuality as disorders, i.e. mental diseases, in the minds of psychiatrists.
It does seem like he lost his way. He ceased being a person who cared for the patient to one who only seems to care for the politics.
Paul McHugh is the most dangerous kind of transphobe you can find. Well educated and well researched. Able to talk circles around you if you were to make the critical mistake of talking about psychiatry and gender of course. It isn’t that he’d be right, it’s just that you’d start doubting if you were. He’d be convincing.
His intellectual children are many. They say to be forewarned is to be fore armed. I hope so. Know that not all of those against us are cretins, but against us nonetheless.