J.J. McCullough, a gay man and columnist for National Review Online, recently argued it is time for conservatives and progressives to compromise on transgenderism, just as they did decades ago on homosexuality, to preserve a free and peaceful social order. He makes some sweeping generalizations about what conservatives think about homosexuality and should think about transgenderism that I think are worth questioning.
First: McCullough says transgenderism is not bizarre. “Through education, and especially exposure, homosexuality is no longer regarded as bizarre, threatening, or mysterious,” he notes. Then he says the same should be true about transgenderism.
Yet transgenderism is bizarre, threatening and mysterious. Any transgender person who wants to detransition back to his or her birth gender—and there are many—knows transgenderism is a bizarre way to live and destructive. Its modern origins were motivated by evil, and that legacy has not faded.
In the United States, transgenderism began more than 60 years ago in the sick, twisted minds of three men, as I detail in my book “Paper Genders”: Alfred Kinsey, a pedophile activist who was addicted to masturbation; Dr. Harry Benjamin, a pedophile activist, who coined the term “transsexual” and was obsessed with cross-gender hormone therapy and sex change surgery; and John Money, a pedophile activist who fabricated his transgender research results.
The pedophile activity of the early days of transgenderism lives on today. I recently received an email from a Canadian drag queen entertainer named Onyx. Drag queens are men, mostly gay, who dress flamboyantly and behave with over-the-top exaggerated feminine mannerisms. Some, like Onyx, become entertainers, and others are featured in news coverage of gay pride parades. Some, but not all, will go on to change their gender.
Onyx describes his disillusionment with the pedophilia creeping into gay bars with transgenderism and with the drag queen lifestyle he now sees as an illusion. I share his email with permission.
I wanted to follow my own egoistic path and…my thirst for glitter and shows led me into a superficial world. I have been a Drag Queen entertainer named Onyx for about 4 years around Quebec and Montreal. I discovered…corrupted ideas of gender and sexual freedom that are becoming harmful to our society.
Many things woke me up. I couldn’t accept seeing last year’s Montreal Pride’s leading light Drag Queen ‘Lactatia’ who was only 8 years old. As I have been working in gay bars, I became aware of the pedophilia that was creeping in there. I’ve decided to quit the Drag scene because I couldn’t live this illusion anymore. Everything was getting fake to my eyes and I didn’t like to be called ‘she’.
A social movement that celebrates elementary school children cross-dressing and dressing and dancing seductively in adult venues for titillation, and pushes for severing natural and healthy human organs even from children, is not one decent people should ever “compromise” with.
Homosexuality Doesn’t Require Cutting Off Body Parts
McCullough makes another comparison between homosexuality and transgenderism regarding those who consider gender dysphoria as something that can be fixed. He says “only the tiniest fringe still consider the [gay] orientation something worth trying to ‘fix.’” He cites California legislation that outlaws the sale of any book, counseling service, or conference that suggests homosexuality or gender confusion can be changed as proof that this perception is correct.
But in fact, all trans activists consider the transgender identity something worth trying to fix. The proof is the existence of an entire industry dedicated to medical procedures and cross-gender services to “fix” the transgender person. The problem is, the fix trans-activists push is to change the body to supposedly “match the mind” through cross-gender hormones and surgery, rather than helping the person to find peace with his or her natural body.
The tiniest fringe, as McCullough detractingly calls them, are dissenters from political correctness who demand evidence, such as long-term studies, to show the effectiveness of such “fixes” and demand alternative treatments, such as what has helped me and countless others: sound psychotherapy to address the coexisting disorders that make a person want to be someone they can never become. If this is a fringe, it is growing, and with good reason.
All Attempts to Treat Unnatural Anguish Are Not Quackish
McCullough makes another sweeping assumption about the critics of transgenderism with this statement: “As with homosexuality in the 1980s and ’90s, the loud revulsion of critics conceals a fading interest in actually attempting to ‘solve’ transgenderism, as even those most offended by it seem to quietly regard purported cures as quackish and authoritarian.”
I was a transgender female, and I’m living proof that cures for what drives transgender behaviors and desires are neither quackish nor authoritarian. The restoration of my life as a man demonstrates that cures for gender dysphoria are possible, valid, and can lead to desirable outcomes in patients’ lives.
The “authoritarian” behavior on display comes not from conservatives, but from trans activists who push for legislation to outlaw unfettered access to psychotherapy, books, and other materials, as California is threatening to do. No government should prohibit people from freely seeking help to change unwanted personal behavior.
The “quackish purported cures” perpetrated on vulnerable people come not from conservatives, but from progressives who maintain that cross-hormones and surgery are the only path to good outcomes, despite decades of contrary evidence.
In 1979, the leading endocrinologist at the gender clinic of trailblazing transgender endocrinologist Harry Benjamin, Dr. Charles Ihlenfeld, relayed his conclusions after treating some 500 people with cross-gender hormones over six years. He urged caution in prescribing cross-gender hormones because 80 percent of people who want to change their gender shouldn’t. “There is too much unhappiness among people who have had the surgery,” Ihlenfeld said. “Too many of them end as suicides.”
The high suicide rate of transsexuals, even after surgery, continues to this day. Treatment that leads many patients to commit suicide is not good medicine. To borrow McCullough’s terminology, it’s quack medicine. The true quacks are people who demand we further damage hurting people with opposite-sex hormones and plastic surgery rather than help them compassionately and rationally with therapy and relationship supports.
Our Common Ground Is Protecting Children
One area of McCullough’s article is applause-worthy. He acknowledges the need to protect children from embracing transgender identities and for protecting the right of parents:
In particular, the risk of psychologically and physically damaging children by encouraging or enabling them to embrace transgender identities before pubescence must be acknowledged as a valid concern backed by credible evidence. Protecting children from the confusing, anxious, dangerous world of adult sexuality and sexual identity before their developing minds can fully conceptualize its complexities is not bigotry, it is good sense, and the sovereign right of every parent.
With 73 years of experience behind me, starting as a four-year-old boy who was affirmed in crossdressing as a girl and eventually lived eight years as a “trans-female,” I can say that McCullough is right on target: affirming young children toward cross-gender behavior plants the seed of gender dysphoria that will cause long-term emotional, psychological, and gender identity incongruency.
McCullough calls for a compromise in which conservatives acknowledge “that arbitrary discrimination against transgender people is a cruel bigotry like any other” and progressives stop using state authority “to impose accommodation of transgenderism in a fashion far more totalitarian than is rationally justified.” That sounds great; both sides could agree.
But this “compromise” ignores that no conservative leaders are calling for “arbitrary discrimination against transgender people.” For example, Ryan Anderson, perhaps the most prominent conservative to speak on transgenderism, constantly advocates compassionate treatment of transgender people. McCullough also misses the core disagreement between progressives and conservatives. Our real disagreement is whether “compassion” means enabling destructive behavior or constructive assistance to come to peace with reality.
The progressive idea of compassion and treatment is to lock people into cross-gender hormones and body part removal and refashioning surgeries, ignore contributing factors, and silence the voice of anyone who disagrees.
The conservative view of compassion and treatment is to encourage open, robust scientific discussion and research to discover treatments that work long-term, and to treat coexisting emotional conditions such as depression and anxiety. One relies on intimidation, censorship, and legislation; the other on scientific methods and free exchange of ideas. Compromise isn’t possible.