Still Bobbing Against the Tide: Family First and Transphobia

January 13, 2015 in General

In the wake of the Leelah Alcorn tragedy, Family First is trying to exploit the situation through spreading misinformation about gender dysphoria and transgender youth.  First of all, let us be very clear about this- gender dysphoria is recognised as a bona fide mental health condition, which can be treated through remedial surgery, hormonal treatment, psychotherapy and counselling.  It is backed by the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Psychiatric Association and American Public Health Association. Secondly, Bob McCoskrie also refers to Paul McHugh as if that elderly medical practitioner were still a reputable source of information on the subject.  Dr McHugh is a conservative Catholic and was a consultant to Pope John Paul II when the late pontiff decided to prohibit gender reassignment surgery and the concepts of gender identity and dysphoria amongst conservative members of his church.  As for Bob McCoskrie himself, he lacks any qualifications in medicine, or specialist qualifications in endocrinology, genetics, anatomy or other fields that would lead one to entertain confidence in his accuracy or veracity in this context.  Thirdly, no-one is talking about gender reassignment surgery or hormonal treatment for under-sixteens.  Appropriate psychotherapy or counselling may be used in this context, but that is all.  However, gender identity and dysphoria are concrete medical problems that require attention through a variety of medical disciplines.

Family First has also reproduced an article by one Walt Heyer. It’s a shame that they obviously conscientiously avoid transgender movement rebuttals of transphobic Christian Right propaganda, or else they would have found an excellent rebuttal to Heyer’s claims on the TransChristians webpage. According to that page, Heyer underwent reassignment surgery because of misdiagnosis. He didn’t have gender dysphoria but dissociative identity disorder instead.   Heyer claims that all psychologists that support transgender rights “are” transgender themselves. Untrue. He also alleges that they are pursuing their own “agenda.” Untrue, again. There is abundant evidence about the propriety of gender dysphoria as a diagnosis and that reassignment surgery and hormone treatment are best practice options in that context.

McCoskrie also cherry picks an article entitled “The Psychosexual Outcome of Gender-Dysphoric Children” (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2008). However, he clearly didn’t read the introduction, which is that children who don’t turn out to be gender dysphoric in later life are probably lesbian or gay, or a review article by Dr Martin Stein. Actually, both articles acknowledge that in the case of some children, gender dysphoria persists and that eventual hormone treatment, surgery and appropriate counselling and psychotherapy may occur in later life.  Obviously, appropriate and correct diagnostic procedures and tools are necessary in this context.  And again, no-one is advocating for premature surgery or hormone treatment in the context of children with gender dysphoria.  He also misquotes an article by Terryan Clark et al, “The Health and Wellbeing of Transgender High School Students: Results from the New Zealand Adolescent Health Survey” (Journal of Adolescent Health, 2014).  Ironically, that paper ends with recommendations that schools adopt trans-inclusive safety procedures when it comes to cis student peer education and appropriate changing and ablutionary facilities- exactly the opposite of McCoskrie’s own juvenile drivel about “bathroom bills” from the US Christian Right’s Family Research Council!

As if that wasn’t weird enough, an oddball article materialised on its webpage associating pedophilia with LGBT rights. It came from the New American, a periodical associated with the far right John Birch Society, a quite peculiar organisation. The Society opposes African-American civil rights, the United Nations and international free trade deals with Mexico, Canada and presumably the Transpacific Partnership Treaty.  That’s really going to impress the centre-right, given that it has a far greater profile on those issues than against LGBTI concerns? Any port in a storm, Bob?


Paul McHugh:

Paul McHugh:

Walt Heyer:

Martin Stein: “Does Gender Dysphoria in Young Children Exist?” (New England Journal of Medicine Watch: 21.01.2009):

Catholic beliefs about transsexuality:

Catholics and transsexuality:

Mari Brighe: “Clinging to A Dangerous Past” TransAdvocate:

Terryan Clark et al, “The Health and Wellbeing of Transgender High School Students: Results from the New Zealand Adolescent Health Survey” (Journal of Adolescent Health 55: 2014: 93-99):


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