One of McHugh’s colleagues William Reiner began a study of boys who were completely male genetically, but had genital malformation and been transformed into girls.
Reiner discovered that such re-engineered males were almost never comfortable as females once they became aware of themselves and the world. From the start of their active play life, they behaved spontaneously like boys and were obviously different from their sisters and other girls, enjoying rough-and-tumble games but not dolls and “playing house.” Later on, most of those individuals who learned that they were actually genetic males wished to reconstitute their lives as males (some even asked for surgical reconstruction and male hormone replacement)—and all this despite the earnest efforts by their parents to treat them as girls.
Reiner’s results, reported in the January 22, 2004, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, are worth recounting. He followed up sixteen genetic males with cloacal exstrophy seen at Hopkins, of whom fourteen underwent neonatal assignment to femaleness socially, legally, and surgically. The other two parents refused the advice of the pediatricians and raised their sons as boys. Eight of the fourteen subjects assigned to be females had since declared themselves to be male. Five were living as females, and one lived with unclear sexual identity. The two raised as males had remained male. All sixteen of these people had interests that were typical of males, such as hunting, ice hockey, karate, and bobsledding. Reiner concluded from this work that the sexual identity followed the genetic constitution. Male-type tendencies (vigorous play, sexual arousal by females, and physical aggressiveness) followed the testosterone-rich intrauterine fetal development of the people he studied, regardless of efforts to socialize them as females after birth. Having looked at the Reiner and Meyer studies, we in the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Department eventually concluded that human sexual identity is mostly built into our constitution by the genes we inherit and the embryogenesis we undergo.
McHugh’s article if full of professional common sense, practical advice on how to treat patients with sexual identity problems and suggests a sensible and mature way forward. However, those who see transgenderism as part of a gay agenda are not ready to hear common sense, professional research or compassionate therapy. McHugh observes,
I think the issue of sex-change for males is no longer one in which much can be said for the other side. [those advocating sex change surgery] But I have learned from the experience that the toughest challenge is trying to gain agreement to seek empirical evidence for opinions about sex and sexual behavior, even when the opinions seem on their face unreasonable. One might expect that those who claim that sexual identity has no biological or physical basis would bring forth more evidence to persuade others. But as I’ve learned, there is a deep prejudice in favor of the idea that nature is totally malleable. Without any fixed position on what is given in human nature, any manipulation of it can be defended as legitimate. A practice that appears to give people what they want—and what some of them are prepared to clamor for—turns out to be difficult to combat with ordinary professional experience and wisdom. Even controlled trials or careful follow-up studies to ensure that the practice itself is not damaging are often resisted and the results rejected.
He then goes on to lament the fact that surgeons will do whatever a person wants if they have enough money to pay for it. All a person needs to do is get out their checkbook and passport and travel to wherever the doctor is willing to do just about any sort of Frankenstein treatment for cash.
Thailand has several centers that do the surgery “no questions asked” for anyone with the money to pay for it and the means to travel to Thailand. I am disappointed but not surprised by this, given that some surgeons and medical centers can be persuaded to carry out almost any kind of surgery when pressed by patients with sexual deviations, especially if those patients find a psychiatrist to vouch for them. The most astonishing example is the surgeon in England who is prepared to amputate the legs of patients who claim to find sexual excitement in gazing at and exhibiting stumps of amputated legs.
Buying and selling anything the human being finds delightful?
Vanity Fair indeed.
Go here to read the full article by Dr McHugh. Go here for a woman’s take on the Jenner re-fit. She says this kind of thing is insulting to women on several levels: like transvestitism, it is “female blackface” and being presented as an impossibly sexy and glamorous woman is demeaning to all “ordinary” women–emphasizing that a woman’s only worth is if she’s a glamorous vamp.