Testimony opposing House Bill 235 regarding "Gender Identity Antidiscrimination"
Maryland House of Delegates
Health and Government Operations Committee
March 9, 2011
By Peter Sprigg
Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Family Research Council
Resident, Montgomery County, Maryland
I am sure that many of the witnesses testifying before you today on this bill will address various legal, political, commercial, practical, and personal implications of it. I would like to address something much more fundamental-the psychological meaning of the phenomenon of men who wish to be called women and women who wish to be called men.
I would like to quote extensively the words of someone with far more expertise and experience in dealing with this issue than I have. His name is Dr. Paul McHugh. Dr. McHugh is the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University . For twenty-six years, he served as director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the Johns Hopkins University and as psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Here is part of what Dr. McHugh wrote in an article for the journal First Things, copies of which I supplied with my testimony:
When the practice of sex-change surgery first emerged back in the early 1970s, I would often remind its advocating psychiatrists that with other patients, alcoholics in particular, they would quote the Serenity Prayer, "God, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Where did they get the idea that our sexual identity ("gender" was the term they preferred) as men or women was in the category of things that could be changed? . . .
I wanted to test the claim that men who had undergone sex-change surgery found resolution for their many general psychological problems. . . .
We saw the results as demonstrating that just as these men enjoyed cross-dressing as women before the operation so they enjoyed cross-living after it. But they were no better in their psychological integration or any easier to live with. With these facts in hand I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia.
Thanks to this research, [psychiatrist and psychoanalyst] Dr. [Jon] Meyer was able to make some sense of the mental disorders that were driving this request for unusual and radical treatment. Most of the cases fell into one of two quite different groups. One group consisted of conflicted and guilt-ridden homosexual men who saw a sex-change as a way to resolve their conflicts over homosexuality by allowing them to behave sexually as females with men. The other group, mostly older men, consisted of heterosexual (and some bisexual) males who found intense sexual arousal in cross-dressing as females. . . The name eventually coined . . . to describe this form of sexual misdirection was "autogynephilia." Once again I concluded that to provide a surgical alteration to the body of these unfortunate people was to collaborate with a mental disorder rather than to treat it.
. . . Quite clearly, then, we psychiatrists should work to discourage those adults who seek surgical sex reassignment. . . . [W]e at Hopkins hold that official psychiatry has good evidence to argue against this kind of treatment and should begin to close down the practice everywhere. . . .
. . . The "transgender" activists (now often allied with gay liberation movements) still argue that their members are entitled to whatever surgery they want, and they still claim that their sexual dysphoria represents a true conception of their sexual identity. They have made some protests against the diagnosis of autogynephilia as a mechanism to generate demands for sex-change operations, but they have offered little evidence to refute the diagnosis. Psychiatrists are taking better sexual histories from those requesting sex-change and are discovering more examples of this strange male exhibitionist proclivity. . . .
I have witnessed a great deal of damage from sex-reassignment. . . . As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their "true" sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for surgery and for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.
(Paul McHugh, "Surgical Sex," First Things, November 2004, pp. 34-38; online)
Ladies and gentlemen, let me be blunt. If you adopt HB 235, you too will be "collaborating with madness."
I urge you to vote "No" on this bill.