Maybe you’ve seen the reports that—is it Bruce or Caitlyn Jenner—is regretting that famous surgery. (Maybe that’s true, maybe not.) To the degree we are shaped by a biblical worldview, such regret would come as no surprise. When we depart from God’s order, we suffer.
More on that metaphysical observation momentarily. First, let’s note that some substantial voices are speaking out against the advisability of surgical sex reassignment.
In 1965, Johns Hopkins University Hospital performed the first sex-change surgery in the US. In 1979, the renowned medical center discontinued this practice. Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins, characterizes transgender “as a mental disorder” and, not surpisingly, rejects the idea of surgical reassignment. The title of his 2014 Wall Street Journal article says it all, “Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution.” The Journal republished Dr. McHugh’s paper in May.
This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.
We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into “sex-reassignment surgery”—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as “satisfied” by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a “satisfied” but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs. [emphasis added]
President Obama was among the first to congratulate Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner last year. Of course, among the elite it’s fashionable to be seen as “progressive.” Better to be “inclusive” than an “extremist hater.” But Dr. McHugh points out the gap between reality and the hype.
“Sex change” is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.
In other words, that inclusive position actually harms people struggling with gender dysphoria. Obviously it’s not compassionate to promote a mental disorder. Wouldn’t compassion try to steer a suffering fellow human being toward healing? If you know an obstacle is on the road ahead, it’s compassionate to warn oncoming drivers. Or you can jump up and down and shout “Good for you! You go, girl!” and then walk away from the collision.
Justin Taylor, PhD, is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway. At The Gospel Coalition, Taylor recently published an article titled, “8 Points From the American College of Pediatricians on Gender Identity in Children.”
Rates of suicide are twenty times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBQT – affirming countries. What compassionate and reasonable person would condemn young children to this fate knowing that after puberty as many as 88% of girls and 98% of boys will eventually accept reality and achieve a state of mental and physical health?
What we can learn from Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner
One more authority, this one from the inside.
Walt Heyer says he “lived as a woman for eight years.” In “Sex Change” Surgery: What Bruce Jenner, Diane Sawyer, and You Should Know he admits, “The surgery fixed nothing—it only masked and exacerbated deeper psychological problems.”
But no matter how feminine I appeared, like all transgenders, I was just a man in a dress. I was unhappy, regretful of having transitioned and I attempted suicide. Gender surgery is not effective treatment for depression, anxiety or mental disorders.
At the very beginning God created them male and female. The (rare) reality of gender dysphoria calls for a compassionate response. And compassion does not celebrate a dysfunction or promote a mental disorder (defined by Webster’s 1828 as “an irregularity in the functions of the brain; derangement of the intellect or reason”).
We are to love hurting people, to seek to minister healing, not applaud brokenness or normalize maladjustment. To consider a disorder as normal, to celebrate it as we are supposed to do for Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, et al, is not compassionate. And the evidence is growing that sex-change surgery leaves the patient in a disturbed stated.
- Gary Brumbelow