BreakPoint: Opposing the Transgender Craze

How to Become a Scientific Heretic

It doesn’t matter that you’re one of the world’s leading psychiatrists if you question the new orthodoxy about sex and gender.

Galileo Galilei was an advocate of Copernicanism when Copernicanism wasn’t cool. Galileo, the father of experimental physics, was an early advocate for the scientific idea that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around.

Church authorities, however, at first claimed the theory to be “philosophically [that is, scientifically] foolish and absurd, and is considered official heresy because it explicitly contradicts the meaning of Scripture in many places.”

Now there’s a lot more to the Galileo story, which became a mistold part of the “religion-opposes-science” trope ever since. But today I want to ask, who is opposing science these days?

Take the case of Paul McHugh, the Henry Phipps Professor and Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1975 to 2001.

Today, McHugh has been labeled a heretic of psychiatry. What did he do to deserve that label?  Well, in 1979 he ended “sex reassignment surgeries” at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, saying that “producing a ‘satisfied’ but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.”

Later, in an influential essay in The Wall Street Journal, McHugh pointed to a study from Sweden showing suicide rates in those who had undergone such procedures to be 20-fold higher than in the “non-transgender population.”

He also cited a study showing that 70 to 80 percent of children with transgender feelings who received no medical or surgical treatment spontaneously lost those feelings. McHugh writes, “Given that close to 80% of such children would abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated, these medical interventions come close to child abuse.”

And for this, he’s been labeled a “transphobe.” And worse.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, the world’s largest homosexual-transgender lobby organization, McHugh “has used his platform as a psychiatrist affiliated with Johns Hopkins University to peddle myths about transgender people—not just in his writings, but in courtrooms and state legislatures across the country. … [McHugh] has no expertise in gender or sexuality,” they write.

That’s hilarious. Over his illustrious career McHugh has received the Paul Hoch Award of the American Psychopathological Association, the Joseph Zubin Award of the American Psychopathological Association, and the highest award of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences’ Institutes of Medicine.

And now he’s being called a peddler of “junk science” because he disagrees with the Human Rights Campaign. So, you can be an internationally renowned expert in your field, but if you tick off the cultural power players, suddenly you’re a hack.

Galileo once wrote to Johannes Kepler, “My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?”

Now McHugh could write something similar of the new obscurantism, but he seems optimistic that science eventually will win out, telling LifeSite News that the “fad” of transgenderism will fade away, even though Johns Hopkins has resumed the surgeries. “I keep telling them that they will come to regret it someday,” McHugh says. “This craze is going to come apart, as crazes always do.”

And like McHugh, we too can hope for a Copernican-type revolution in which science—not to mention common sense—wins out over ideology. In the meantime, however, there are too many lives, including young ones, being sold false hope and false salvation.

They’re the victims of bad ideas, and that clarifies our Christian responsibility. Christians are always at their best, not only when they stand for truth, but when they care for victims. And this time will be no different.


Further Reading and Information

Opposing the Transgender Craze: How to Become a Scientific Heretic

No matter your resume and expertise, if you cross the transgender lobby, you’re in for it. But nonetheless, Christians have to be ready to care for the victims of the culture’s bad ideas and bad ideologies, bringing truth and restoration in the name of Christ.


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Liberalism in a Lab Coat: The March to Redefine Science
  • Eric Metaxas | | April 25, 2017
Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution
  • Dr. Paul McHugh | Courage, International | 2014
Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution
  • Dr. Paul McHugh | Wall Street Journal | May 13, 2016

Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.

  • Joseph

    Putting aside your headline and some of your language, which I find flippant, you seem to be misinterpreting this story.

    You write that McHugh is labeled a transphobe for ending sex reassignment surgeries, citing the Sweden study, and this other study at Vanderbilt. However you fail to acknowledge that in addition to his many anti-LGBT statements over his career, McHugh is criticized specifically for distorting the findings of these studies in order to support his agenda.

    The Sweden study shows no link between transgender surgery and mental health of post-surgical trans people. The researchers specifically write that “no inferences can be drawn as to the effectiveness of sex reassignment as a treatment for transsexualism.”

    The Vanderbilt study (which includes gender-nonconforming children as well as transgender) actually found that 43% declined in gender-nonconforming behavior after puberty, not 80-90%. They were unable to even follow up in 30% of cases, so it’s unclear where McHugh gets his much higher figure, but it’s not from the study he cites.

    McHugh also ignores the vast numbers of studies that come to the opposite conclusion, which increases the sense that he cherry-picks data to support his agenda.

    Furthermore, you cite the past awards McHugh received from the APA without mentioning that his views on transgender health specifically contradict the APA’s position on this issue.

    So when you write that “he’s being called a peddler of ‘junk science’ because he disagrees with the Human Rights Campaign,’ that’s misleading at best. It makes it sound like this is strictly a partisan political issue, not that his views go against the growing consensus of the medical community.

    If your moral convictions require you to oppose transgender surgery, that’s fine, and keep writing about your beliefs. But you can do so without distorting evidence and insinuating sinister motivates among those with whom you disagree.

    • Scott McMahan

      Joseph, you too labor to discredit McHugh but in so doing you don’t do anything to debate the thesis of this article, and you even support it, which is if you hold a belief contrary to the dogma of the day you will be discredited and silenced by culture.

      You admit that at least 43% of children with gender dysphoria outgrow those feelings by adulthood, and also that 30% were not able to be followed up with. That leaves 27% who did not outgrow their feelings. If my math and understanding of your argument is correct then a full 2/3 of those who were followed up with outgrew their confusion. So you are still admitting (as I understand what you wrote) that the majority of children with gender dysphoria will likely outgrow their feelings of childhood confusion. So why are we as a culture encouraging children and their parents to mutilate children’s bodies with hormone treatment and surgery? I don’t see how any thinking person could argue for this. Perhaps that is why the focus of the dialog from your side is always to shame and discredit and use fear tactics to prevent open dialog and debate.

      As Christians our argument is that gender is a God given gift. It is not ours to manipulate and control but to humble ourselves to understand and even celebrate. Even when it is very difficult and painful to do so. God can show us His glory all the more radiantly in or weakness.

      • Joseph

        Scott, it seems like you completely misread what I said, but here goes an attempt to reply.

        I’m not the one discrediting him. I’m correcting the falsehoods in this article. The authors claim that is only being discredited by the political left when he is being discredited by his peers in his field!

        Science changes and conventional wisdom evolves with new information. What may have been common to believe once might not be anymore if there’s an abundance of new information that contradicts that (with extensive study, peer review, etc., obviously). If people are too stubborn to acknowledge new information, without good reason, yes, they will probably be discredited, because they aren’t good at what they do.

        My point regarding these studies is that if McHugh (and Stonestreet, etc.) want to rely on them to support their thesis, they should at least accurately report the findings, which they do not.

        I certainly do NOT admit what you claim. This is what researchers in one study found, and again, they specifically advise not to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of sex reassignment surgery. Also, like I say above, these are not all children with gender dysphoria. This study includes children who were referred because they didn’t seem to conform to traditional gender roles. Furthermore, the math comes to 61% in a sample size of 54. That’s a pretty limited sample. And again, these are not necessarily children with gender dysphoria! You want to hang your hat on that?

        As far as your accusation of using shame and fear to prevent open dialogue, give me a break. Nothing I said was untrue, which is why you have to lower the bar with your smear tactics.

        Your personal feelings on this subject don’t matter to me. I just think when you want to argue and debate, use facts. We still live in a fact-filled world, after all.

      • Phoenix1977

        McHugh discredited himself by deliberately interpreting data falsely, abusing the science for his own agenda. One could even say Paul McHugh didn’t do research; he did propaganda. He proved to be untrustworthy in his science, effectively ending his career in academics.

        The things Joseph illustrated best was how Paul McHugh mispresented data and claimed outcomes that weren’t supported by the research. One other thing Joseph clearly illustrated in his comment was that the methodology of the quoted research was flawed. The subject group was too heterogeneous, meaning the subjects were not comparable to begin with. That’s not strange since we are still not sure what causes gender dysphoria, how to accurately recognize it and how to predict gender dysphoria. That’s also why all studies have been suspended because for the time being it will be impossible to perform scientifically sound research.

        For us non-Christians your god is no argument since we don’t believe in his existence. We are convinced gender is a social construct, not related to biological sex at all, and is completely changeable, also because gender plays absolutely no role in the positions and roles a person can have in society.

  • Standards of man change. Standards passed down to us from The Great I Am do not change.

  • Steve

    I recommend visiting this website to learn from someone who refused to be forced to use the new trans pronouns and argued from a free speech perspective. He is a professor of psychology at U of Toronto and is brilliant.

    • Jason Samuels

      So…do I love you for turning me on to this guy, or do I hate you because I have been up all night watching his videos? I am leaning toward love. About lunch time at work today, I will probably be leaning towards hate. I kid. He’s excellent. Glad you posted.

  • Phoenix1977

    “So, you can be an internationally renowned expert in your field, but if you tick off the cultural power players, suddenly you’re a hack.”

    This so-called expert hasn’t been able to publish a single paper in solid scientific journals since his termination from Johns Hopkins in 2001 (a move he says was voluntarily but Johns Hopkins refuses to confirm that interpretation). Actually, most of his “papers” from before being fired have either been debunked as junk indeed or have been retracted by either his co-authors or the journal’s editors. His latest “publication” he could only publish in a rag called “New Atlantis” which also claims there is sufficient proof for extra-terrestrial life in order to start building deep space defense systems.

    Perhaps, once in a distant past, there was a doctor called Paul McHugh who was great in his field and was sincere about helping people. That is not the same Paul McHugh, however, who started a single-handed crusade against transgender people and other LGBTs. Somewhere down the line Paul McHugh changed and not for the better. That is why no one takes him serious anymore (in contrast to the past when he indeed won several APA awards) and that’s why what’s left of his career fits the empty space on a one dollar bill.

    • Steve

      Your post actually confirmed what has happened to Dr. McHugh.
      Because of his research and that it is contrary to what the LGBTQ desires, he has been shunned and “discredited”. How is it that all of a sudden his research is “wrong”? The Left shuts down dissent aggressively, not just in LGBTQ matters but across its ideological spectrum.

      • Phoenix1977

        No, McHugh was shunned and discredited for cherry picking research to drive his own views on the matter home. Furthermore, he has been sued for open discrimination against LGBTs so many times Johns Hopkins got into trouble with it’s insurance company and under the Matthew Sheppard Act it was quite likely Paul McHugh would be prosecuted for hate crimes against LGBTs.
        But his biggest sin was using the science to his advantage instead of letting the science form his opinion for him, which is a major no-no in academia.

      • Joseph

        Why do so many conservatives struggle with basic reading comprehension?

        “Because of his research and that is is contrary to what the LGBTQ desires [sic], he has been shunned and ‘discredited.'”

        No. Wrong.

        He is being discredited by his peers. People who worked with him. People who co-authored papers with him. The entire American Psychological Association. The leading scientific, health, and psychological publications. Just about everyone in his profession.

        The only people actually defending him on this issue seem to be anti-LGBT Christian conservatives without any expertise in these matters, only an agenda to promote.

    • AtTheCrossroads

      It must get tiring to fight against what you once claimed as your ally . . . fact and science. I do pray you’ll find rest: “This is what the Lord says, stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it . . . and you will find rest for your souls”. Like many things in all of our lives, gender is a reality we don’t determine for ourselves; our only choice is whether to embrace it or fight against it. This is what confused children (and adults) need to hear from those who really want to help them . . . even if they hate us for it in the short-term.

      • Phoenix1977

        The medical community disagrees with you.

        • AtTheCrossroads

          Actually, one of the foremost experts in gender and sexuality agrees as this article makes clear. But even if so, the scientific community disagreed with Copernicus when he introduced the crazy idea of the the planets revolving around the sun. Facts are stubborn things that eventually overcome all personal and political agendas.

          • Phoenix1977

            First, Paul McHugh is no longer considered an expert in gender and sexuality. That’s the entire point.
            Second, Paul McHugh no longer practices medicine so he’s no longer part of the medical community.
            Third, I said “medical community”, not “scientific community”.

  • HazumuOsaragi

    Eppur si muove…

    This interrelationship of cultural antinomianism and a psychiatric misplaced emphasis is seen at its grimmest in the practice known as sex-reassignment surgery. I happen to know about this because Johns Hopkins was one of the places in the United States where this practice was given its start. It was part of my intention, when I arrived in Baltimore in 1975, to help end it.
    Verdict first, then cherry-pick the evidence to support your conclusions/actions.

    Do you know Dr. McHugh protected pedophile priests for the catholic church?:

    At least eight men have been convicted of sexually abusing Maryland children while under treatment at the “sex disorders” clinic McHugh runs at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine — abuse the doctors did not report, citing client confidentiality. When Maryland law was changed to require that doctors report child molestation, the clinic fought it and advised patients on how to get around the law. The memo to patients suggested that molesters report their pedophilic activities to their lawyers, who could in turn tell staff; attorney-client privilege would then protect the molesters from being reported. This memo was fully approved by the boss — Dr. Paul McHugh, the man Stephanie Salter called “an asset to just about any truth- seeking panel” (“Victims enemy isn’t one,” July 31).

  • Phoenix1977

    Interesting. Especially since Johns Hopkins stated earlier this year (in their press release about restarting gender reassignment surgery) they ended all affiliations with Paul McHugh in 2002.

    • AtTheCrossroads

      It’s quite common these days for institutions and organizations to initially buckle under the assault of the militant LGBT community. So frantically firing off a press release, that turns out later to be false, might be compared to throwing some chum to the sharks. :o)

      • Phoenix1977

        Or, more likely, he still has privileges at Johns Hopkins and sees private patients there while not being affiliated with Johns Hopkins anymore. He simply rents an office there.

        • AtTheCrossroads

          Shocking, just shocking. How could a respectable hospital allow such a dangerous whacko to set up shop in their facility. Next thing you know they’ll be letting psychiatrists who believe a person’s age is fixed and certain to practice there. Here’s a heartwarming article for those who know that age, like sex, is a just a matter of how you choose to identify: :o)

          • Phoenix1977

            It probably has everything to do with how contracts were worded, I’m sure. It’s quite probable Johns Hopkins cannot terminate his contract without bleeding for it, so they don’t.

          • AtTheCrossroads

            Freedom to believe in the unsettling idea that a boy is a boy and a girl is a girl, and that the best we can do for someone confused about this is help them embrace their given gender, +1.

          • Phoenix1977

            Like I said, the medical community disagrees.

  • jabdesigns

    Interesting to note that just a short time before Dr. McHugh maneuvered the end of the sexual reassignment surgeries at Johns Hopkins, a near-completion candidate in that program had an encounter with the living God in his home, and asked God for a sign if indeed He was the real deal. Sy Rogers laughingly says, “God not only gave me a sign, He shut down the whole program!” Sy not only confessed his sin, but this residue-laden young man became a world-wide evangelist for the truth of Jesus Christ, and has ministered as a coach for sexual truth and purity for over 30 years.

    And to your first point, a circular orbit doesn’t necessarily determine a “center” point, does it? Why can’t an orbit be a loop-de-loop like the old spirograph toys? Not as easy to explain, but as Albert Einstein once declared, “It really depends on your perspective, doesn’t it?!” [Could the earth really be the focal point of the solar system, the galaxy, the….hmmm, just wondering.] [smile]

    As we get deeper and deeper into scientific issues, discovering amazing complexities of things like the 4-dimensional characteristics of the DNA of a living cell, we may discover that the voluminous details of human sexuality, and astronomical wonders, still boil down to simple truths from the Word of God that we CAN understand, things like “male and female He created them” and “the heavens declare His glory.”

    Basically He’s God, and we’re not, and He’s a whole LOOOOOOOOOOOOOT smarter than we are.