BreakPoint: A Psychiatrist Who Defied the Transgender Movement

Chuck Colson on Dr. Paul McHugh

John Stonestreet: Two months ago, I introduced you to a leading psychiatrist who opposes the transgender movement. Chuck Colson told us about him 12 years ago. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

Back in June I told you about renowned psychiatrist Paul McHugh. He’s won numerous international awards for his work, but he’s recently been labelled a hack by the transgender movement. Why? Because he once banned sex reassignment surgeries at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

He’s also publicized a study that shows a suicide rate 20 times higher than the general population for those who have undergone such surgery. And another that showed that up to 80 percent of children with transgender feelings simply outgrow them.

Well, Chuck told us about Dr. McHugh years ago on BreakPoint. Here’s Chuck:

Chuck Colson: You see them at night in big cities: men dressed up as women, complete with makeup, jewelry, and high heels. Despite their best efforts, it’s not a pretty sight. Nor is the sight of men who take a more drastic step: undergoing so-called sex-re-assignment surgery.

When these surgeries were first performed at Johns Hopkins University in the early seventies, one psychiatrist—Paul McHugh—started asking questions about the wisdom of this. After all, the outcomes were not women, but grotesque caricatures of them.

When McHugh became psychiatrist-in-chief in 1975, he decided to test the claim that men who underwent sex-change surgery were psychologically better off. He also wanted to study the outcomes of sex-reassignment surgeries performed on baby boys with ambiguous genitals.

So McHugh encouraged the research of a colleague, psychiatrist Jon Meyer, who was following up men who received sex-change operations. Meyer found that most of the patients he located did not regret their surgery. But in every other respect, McHugh writes, “they were little changed in their psychological condition. They had much the same problems with relationships, work, and emotions as before [the surgery].”  “I concluded,” he wrote, “that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness.” Wouldn’t it be better, he thought, to concentrate on fixing their minds instead of taking the far more drastic step of re-arranging their genitals? Thanks to the research of Meyer and others, it became possible to do just that—to make sense of the mental disorders that were driving the request for the surgeries.

McHugh then turned to the practice of sex-reassignment surgery for baby boys with ambiguous genitals. For years doctors had told parents that their child’s sexual identity would conform to environmental conditioning: They would happily grow up as girls.

But a study found exactly the opposite. These re-engineered boys endured “prolonged distress and misery.” When they discovered their true genetic heritage, most of them began to live as males.

Given that there’s no evidence that sex reassignment surgery helps either adults or children, why did doctors recommend it in the first place? The answer is that psychiatrists were enamored of the feminist theory that sexual identity was determined, not by biology, but by cultural conditioning. Psychiatrists went along with this despite the fact that animal research had long shown that male sexual behavior is directly derived from exposure to testosterone in utero. And so today, the transgendered movement is firmly protected by rigid codes of political correctness. You’re a bigot if you say that a person is made a certain way and can’t change his gender.

Well, thanks to this research Johns Hopkins no longer performs sex-reassignment surgeries. But trendy ideologies are being used to argue for a host of feminist causes—like women in combat. When you hear them, tell people about the psychiatrist who took on the ideologies and proved gender isn’t a preference or a choice. These psychiatrists found out indeed that human nature can’t be manipulated, that the Bible was right all along—we are made, male and female, in His image.


Editor’s note: This commentary first aired on June 5, 2005. Johns Hopkins University has recently, and tragically, resumed sex-reassignment surgeries.


A Psychiatrist Who Defied the Transgender Movement: Chuck Colson on Dr. Paul McHugh

As Christians, we need to be prepared to care for the victims of the culture’s confused gender ideology, bringing truth and restoration in the name of Christ. Read more about Dr. Paul McHugh’s work by clicking on the links in our “Resources” section.


God and the Transgender Debate
  • Andrew Walker | Good Book Co. Publisher | August 2017
Opposing the Transgender Craze: How to Become a Scientific Heretic
  • John Stonestreet | | June 5, 2017
The Wisdom to Know the Difference: Is Sexual Identity Malleable?
  • Chuck Colson | | June 15, 2005
Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution
  • 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.

  • Steve

    A related question, Phoenix: on how young of a person do you think it is ethical to do sex reassignment surgery?

    • Phoenix1977

      Ethics state a child can make medical decisions for his- or herself from the age of 12. So I’d say that age would be ethically alright with me.

      • Scott

        12? Most 12 year olds aren’t capable of doing their own laundry, let alone making major medical/surgical decisions.

        • grnjllybn

          It is just EVIL and disgusting to tamper with the way God created us.

          • Phoenix1977

            And yet there are few Christians who never wear make-up or dye their hair …

          • Steve

            You are showing your true colors Phoenix. You fall back on “laws” when they fit your argument but deny their legitimacy when they don’t. The same with studies that are quoted; you disregard them when they are “cherry picked” or “biased”; of course, the ones you disagree with.
            In the U.S. the age of consent for medical procedures is 18. I don’t know where you came up with 12.
            In the case of gender reassignment surgery that is particularly dangerous to allow at such a young age. At this time in life kids are far more able to be swayed by peers, they have insecurities about sexual development (regardless of whether they feel transgender or not) and they don’t have the emotional maturity to make life long decisions. Also, there are studies that show (I’m sure you’ll shoot them down) that a vast majority of children who have trans feelings end up aligning with their birth gender in the end. To allow youngsters to make decisions that in a large percentage would be regretted is not only irresponsible but it is unethical.
            Use common sense on this. Don’t just argue to further an agenda.

          • Phoenix1977

            “In the U.S. the age of consent for medical procedures is 18. I don’t know where you came up with 12.”
            I think you need to study a bit further. All major medical organisations, internationally, have agreed to back up the WHO in accepting the age of consent for medical procedures at age 12. Some countries, like the Netherlands, actually put that down into law. Other countries, like the US, have not but doctors are obliged by their professional organisations (like the AMA or AAP, in case of pediatrics) to comply with the WHO guidelines on this. You can try to find any legal case in which a judge overruled doctors in a case of a minor age 12 or above. You won’t find any.

            “Also, there are studies that show (I’m sure you’ll shoot them down) that a vast majority of children who have trans feelings end up aligning with their birth gender in the end.”
            I don’t know of any credible studies concluding that. I know of some studies done by Paul McHugh that reached that conclusion but, as I said, I don’t know of any credible studies.

            “Use common sense on this. Don’t just argue to further an agenda.”
            Common sense when dealing with feelings and emotions? Psychology 101: those two are mutually exclusive.

          • Steve

            Actually, in the U.S. we physicians are not obligated to follow the WHO guidelines. We follow state laws regarding age of consent. And also, a large proportion of doctors do not belong to the AMA, AAP etc because they are merely organizations that represent agendas and are not governing bodies of physicians. I myself, have never belonged to the AMA because of their incoherent support of taking the lives of newborns. Doesn’t fit with my oath to never take a life.

          • Phoenix1977

            “And also, a large proportion of doctors do not belong to the AMA, AAP etc because they are merely organizations that represent agendas and are not governing bodies of physicians.”
            They make policy together with the governing bodies so they pretty much are governing bodies themselves.

          • Steve

            Apples and oranges…

          • Phoenix1977

            In my experience the most used expression when people are out of arguments …

          • Steve

            No, it is just a shortcut to not have to state the obvious. I did not state the obvious so as to not insult your intelligence. However, since you insist–wearing makeup and dyeing hair is a world of difference from having self-mutilating surgery.

          • Phoenix1977

            No argument there. However, both are adjustments to the way your god supposedly created you. And that was what I wanted to point out.

        • Phoenix1977

          And yet, at the age of 12 children will have the authority to make their own medical decisions, if they show enough knowledge and insight in the matter. So if a child age 12 is diagnosed with cancer and he or she refuses treatment a doctor is obliged to cease treatment if the child demonstrates enough understanding that, without treatment, he or she will die. That’s also the reason why girls can get birth control or abortions without their parents consent. Because with the right to make your own medical decisions comes the right to doctor-patient confidentiality.

          • Steve

            I suppose in your view a 12 year old child would also be able to agree to doctor-assisted suicide.

          • Phoenix1977

            They already can.

      • iffydiffy

        Those are mighty horrid ethics, then. Yes, I have heard that kids as young as 12 can get their own birth control and make decisions about surgery. If we are discussing what the law is, then fine, that’s what it is. But if we are discussing what is RIGHT …

        12 is an insanely young age to allow a child to make decisions like this, interviews and psychological assessments be *(#)(@. This isn’t just about the ability to do laundry (although I do get the point of Scott’s remark there). 12 year olds are still growing up. They are fickle as heck. They don’t know what they want to be, or who they want to be. They are just figuring out how to relate to the opposite sex, figuring out what they like (or not) about themselves. It is pure madness to allow a person that young, at a stage of their development that is awkward enough to begin with, to make decisions about life-changing (or ending) surgery.

        • Phoenix1977

          In the Netherlands we recently had a case of a boy, 14 yo, with some form of cancer (can’t remember which form). He refused to have chemo after surgery, even though his chances for survival would increase exponentially with chemo. His parents disagreed with the boy and went to court to force the doctors to override their son’s wishes and give him chemo against his wish. The courts sided with their son and his doctor’s though, stating a 14 yo has the right to decide of his own body and medical treatment, especially if the boy demonstrates adequate understanding of what might happen if he refuses treatment. The courts also added in the ruling judges have no business interfering in the doctor-patient relationship.
          The boy died a few weeks ago.