Family Research Council

Testimony by Peter Sprigg IN OPPOSITION TO SB 212
Resident, Montgomery County
Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Family Research Council

Maryland State Senate
Judicial Proceedings Committee
February 28, 2012

It is important for us to understand that the way in which the issue of transgenderism is usually presented in the political arena is quite contrary to the way it is understood in the scientific community. The advocates of this bill would have you believe that those who are "transgendered" are discriminated against because they are "women born in men's bodies" or "men born in women's bodies." Just as with a characteristic like race, they argue that this is a matter of inborn identity, not chosen behavior.

However, the science says otherwise. It is important to remember that, unlike homosexuality, with which it is often compared legally and politically, "gender identity disorder" remains listed as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association.

However, it is important to further note that, particularly in the case of male-to-female transgenders, there are two quite different phenomena at work. These have to do not with a person's identity, but with behavior they engage in in order to fulfill their sexual desires.

My source for this, among others, is this book by J. Michael Bailey, "The Man Who Would Be Queen." Bailey is hardly a social conservative; on the contrary, he is a pro-homosexual scholar in human sexuality at Northwestern University who is, if anything, controversial for his extremely liberal positions. I do not agree with everything he says in this book or elsewhere, but he does offer a valuable insight into the transgender phenomenon.

Bailey says that some men who wish to become women are simply homosexual men. He says of them, "Those who love men become women to attract them." Other men who wish to become women, however, are actually heterosexual men-that is, they are and remain sexually attracted to women. They suffer from a separate and unique disorder known as "transvestic fetishism." As Bailey summarizes it, "Those who love women become the women they love."

Obviously, these are complex conditions which cannot be described thoroughly in two minutes of testimony. What you should understand however, are two things. First, you are being deceived by a de-emphasis of the erotic element in the transgender condition. Second, it would be unprecedented for people to actually be offered the affirmation implicit in civil rights protections simply because they experience a mental illness.

We should show compassion for these individuals, but that should manifest itself in mental health treatments to help them become comfortable with their biological sex, not in legislation which denies the reality of their condition.