Blog Post

Top Doc Says Sex Change is Not Possible

Paul R. McHugh, MD Paul R. McHugh, MD

The former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital says that transgenderism is a mental disorder, that sex change is "biologically impossible" and that people who promote sex change surgery are promoting a mental disorder. is reporting on a commentary written for the Wall Street Journal by Paul R. McHugh, current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins.

McHugh, who is the author of six books and at least 125 peer-reviewed medical articles, said transgender surgery isn't the answer for people who suffer from the idea that they were born the wrong sex.

"A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription."

He went on to explain that “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.”

A transgendered person's disorder, which is found in their assumption that they are different from the gender assigned by nature, is similar to that of a person with anorexia who looks in the mirror and thinks they are overweight, he explained.

The assumption that gender is "only in the mind" and has nothing to do with anatomical reality is encouraging a new push among the transgendered for social acceptance. States such as California, New Jersey and Massachusetts have actually passed laws barring psychiatrists from trying to restore "natural gender feelings" to a minor in spite of having the permission of the child's parents.

This has also led to "everything is normal" sex education where schools' "diversity counselors" act like cult leaders and encourage children to distance themselves from their families while offering advice to get transgender surgery in spite of knowing little or nothing about the facts.

The Obama administration, Hollywood, and the major media should also stop promoting transgenderism as normal, he said.

These “policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention.”

He went on to explain how unsatisfactory outcomes eventually caused the cessation of sex reassignment surgery at Johns Hopkins.

"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," McHugh wrote.

He also faulted “misguided doctors” who administer puberty-delaying hormones to very young children who are simply imitating the opposite sex. They claim to do so with the hopes of rendering future sex change operations less onerous, even though these drugs stunt the child's growth and risk causing sterility.

He called this treatment “close to child abuse,” and said that nearly 80 percent of those kids will “abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated ….”

McHugh concluded: “’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 a civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.”

In a speech at the Vatican in December, 2012, Pope Benedict addressed transgender issues by cautioning Catholics about “destroying the very essence of the human creature through manipulating their God-given gender to suit their sexual choices.”

He went on to warn that “when freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God.”

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