President Oak’s statements about biological sex and gender earlier this month were medically inaccurate. When the general membership is offered falsehoods over the pulpit, it sets us back on many levels. It hurts families trying to navigate complicated terrain within their relationships. It hurts families as far as the types of interventions and treatments they may be willing to seek that are available. It limits doctors and mental health providers as far as being able to provide best standards of care to their patients. It hurts individuals who are already having a difficult time understanding how they fit within their larger faith community. Mormon doctrine is expansive enough to make room for clinical knowledge we are continually acquiring. It is time for speeches over the pulpit to reflect this reality.
I appreciate Ken being willing to share his clinical experience that shows just some of the complexities that arise when trying to fit the concept of “biological sex” into a binary concept. It just doesn’t work. With President Oaks talking about medically inaccurate concepts in front of an international audience that sees him as a spokesperson for God, it is important to make sure that our leaders are adequately educated before discussing topics inaccurately and causing harm in the process. These kinds of statements can affect clinical interventions, mental health, cultural and family bias, treatments that are sought out, distrust of the medical community and more. Our members deserve better.
Today’s guest post is written by Ken McFadyen. Opinions shared on guest posts may not completely reflect the positions of the blog’s author.
“When I was training to be a clinical psychologist, I undertook a placement in paediatrics neurodevelopment. I was presented with a child who was born with XX chromosomes, yet had male genitalia. I was told by the paediatric consultant that a biochemical cascade caused this. It struck me that biological sex was therefore a confusing term: which ‘biological sex’ was correct; anatomical or genetic? If anatomical was the ‘biological sex’, then the child would be male; yet, if genetic was the ‘biological sex’, then the child would be female. Using the term ‘biological sex’ to describe gender is at best inaccurate and lacks clarity. That aside, transgenderism is not necessarily related to ‘biological sex’, it is more closely related to the gender that the person identifies to be. The degree to which a person becomes ‘biologically’ aligned with their identified gender is as varied as the stars in the galaxy. As a qualified clinical psychologist, I have undertaken assessments of individuals who wish to align themselves with their identified gender surgically, and this is a complex area. It is advisable that individuals do not speak outside their areas of expertise given the pain and distress that this can cause.”
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST, CSTS, can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, is the current past president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.