Conservative psychiatrist bashes “transgendered” in the Wall Street Journal

Paul_MchughLEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — We’re “confused” and “mistaken” psychiatrist Paul McHugh wrote in an op-ed piece about us for the Wall Street Journal and stated that any treatment for us other than those normally prescribed for a mental disorder can “lead to grim psychological outcomes.”

Clearly any psychiatrist using the word “transgendered” likely hasn’t read the stats on transgender suicide. Had he done so, he’d know outcomes for trans people are already pretty grim — partly driven by the archaic mental disorder label applied to us by people in his profession in the previous century.

Just by staying away from people like McHugh, trans people have a shot at a less grim outcome.

McHugh: “The transgendered suffer a disorder of “assumption” like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists. With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature–namely one’s maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.”


Okay, let me get this straight. This guy is saying trans people are in the same “mental disorder” class as people with anorexia and bulimia nervosa, right?

In doing a bit of research on his background, I came up with this gem from Transexual Roadmap:

A noted Catholic conservative, McHugh famously shut down the gender identity clinic at Johns Hopkins in 1979, . . . McHugh argues that gender variance is essentially a lifestyle choice or an ideology, and that offering trans health services is effectively collaborating in a patient’s delusion. He has described it as akin to giving liposuction to an anorexic person.

While I cannot vet for the factual accuracy of the TS Roadmap statement I quoted, however, I did spot of photo of McHugh appearing on FOX News. Draw your own conclusions.



Lexie Cannes — a great award-winning feature film about a trans woman. Get it here right now:   

LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS is associated with Wipe Out Transphobia:

Read Lexie Cannes in The Huffington Post:


Categories: Transgender, Transsexual, Trans

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20 replies

  1. Nice pay wall, why would I wanna pay for this drivel anyway? As always, thanks for sharing Courtney!




  3. McHugh and people like must live in a box as they remain blissfully oblivious to any and all studies, research, and important academic papers that might reboot their perception of reality to a more currant view rather than remain in a 1950s paradigm. He’s a bloody disgrace to his profession.

  4. I would not take anything that John’s Hopkins Medical Center had to say not even with a grain of salt they tried “conversion” repairative therapy with disastrous results perhaps some may remember David Reimer was born in 1965 in Winnipeg, Manitoba he was horribly disfigured in a circumcision gone bad the Dr.s in Manitoba took it upon themselves to complete gender reassignment surgery “sex change” told his parents that their he is now a she. Then comes along John’s Hopkins Medical Center and Dr. John Money who claimed that they can make David think and feel HE was a SHE a female a Girl this worked for a while but not as they thought he understood that he was a victim of medical malpractice and tried to live with others decisions only later as an adult BLOWING HIS BRAINS out in a parking lot in his car! so yeah John’s Hopkins Medical Center you can blow me!

    • the life and legacy of david reimer

      David Reimer was born in 1965 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. One of a pair of identical twins, his birth-name was Bruce and that of his brother Brian. The following year at 8 months old, both brothers were referred for circumcision at a local hospital after it emerged that they suffered from phimosis, a condition where the foreskin does not retract fully from the head of the penis.

      Bruce’s procedure went tragically wrong and most of his penis was cauterised beyond repair.

      The family was referred to John’s Hopkins Medical Center to see Dr. John Money, who at the time was quickly developing a reputation based on his work with intersex patients. Dr. Money was a vocal proponent of the idea of gender plasticity, believing that gender developed purely as a result of learning, and was well-known for advocating that intersex children with ambiguous genitalia be reassigned and raised as girls.

      Naturally, he immediately suggested that the family raise Bruce as a little girl, and at 22 months old, Bruce’s testes were removed. He was reassigned female and given the name Brenda. Dr. Money would continue to see Brenda and her brother Brian for psychological counselling and assessment, and she would be given female hormones to aid her physical development as a girl. In many ways this was an ideal … experiment to determine the validity of gender plasticity as a theory: Brenda had a twin, Brian, who could serve as a control subject, and Bruce had also been born a perfectly healthy, non-variant male. If anything could prove that gender was purely a social construct, this was it.

      Throughout her early childhood and into puberty, Brenda grew up and developed as a young girl. She visited with Dr. Money regularly, and he reported the case a fantastic success. On the basis of the case, sex-reassignment in the case of children born with ambiguous genitalia was adopted as standard practice, one that has continued to the present-day in many places.

      Sadly, the reality of the situation was very different from what Dr. Money was reporting.

      As early as the age of two, Brenda was insisting that he was a boy like his brother Brian, whom he would regularly beat up so he could take his toys to play with. As he grew older, he was regularly bullied at school for his unfeminine behaviour, masculine walk and his insistence to both teachers and parents that he felt like a boy. He hated his visits with Dr. Money, finally threatening suicide if he had to go one more time, and finally, upon the advice of a different psychologist, Brenda’s mom and dad told him the truth in 1980. Brenda assumed a male identity and started living as David.

      Unfortunately the damage had been done.

      Neglected and confused, scarred by highly questionable “therapy” techniques Dr. Money had employed and struggling to process his new relationship with his “sister”, Brian eventually fell into a pattern of clinical depression, drug abuse and crime that finally culminated in his apparent suicide from a lethal overdose of drugs and alcohol in 2002. David’s parents did not fare much better, his mother attempting suicide and his father eventually sliding into alcoholism.

      David also did not cope well. He tried to commit suicide twice in his 20′s, having done so repeatedly in his teens, both before and after learning the reality of his gender. Given to dark moods, fears of abandonment and explosive anger preying on his mind constantly, he believed that he would never be able to form a lasting relationship and marry.

      Despite all this, he did meet and eventually marry Jane, and his life seemed to start approaching something like normal. They raised three children together, and after he went public with his story in 2000, sales from the book he had authored with John Colapinto, gave the family financial security.

      Sadly it wasn’t to last. Feeling guilty over the death of his brother and haunted by his childhood, David made a string of bad investments, became estranged from his wife and family, and eventually committed suicide in 2004 at the age of 38. Dr. Money’s grand “experiment” was a tragic, terrible failure.

      David’s life was an unhappy one, and the circumstances around that life touched the lives of everybody around him with devastating effect. But he left behind a powerful legacy that has given intersex people their most convincing argument in preventing doctors and parents from “fixing” intersex children. Indeed, it was only after he learned from Dr. Milton Diamond how his case had been used to push “surgical correction” of intersex people that he went public with his own story.

      His case also dealt a critical blow to the theory that gender is a learned behaviour, instead pointing at one’s sense of one’s own gender being an innate characteristic as fundamental as whether we are naturally right or left-handed. In this, his life also helped the cause of transsexual people enormously, something for which I owe him and his family a profound debt.

  5. all that said no wonder he shut down Hopkins gender clinic I wonder who many lives he and that institution destroyed!

  6. I believe that the book “As Nature Made Him” by John Colapinto is the source of information about McHugh and his scorn for “sex change” as a treatment for transsexuals. He took over the Johns Hopkins clinic that the infamous John Money worked in and basically closed its surgical treatments down. My copy of the book is an ebook, but I can’t copy the text from it to quote it directly. If you do a search on “McHugh,” you’ll be able to read his history which was pretty colorful. It also matches up with your recollection about his ties to Catholicism. Not an open mind. Sad that he hasn’t learned anything new in the past thirty years.

  7. Thanks for the comments everyone!

  8. There is a never ending supply of nitwits out there. Ignorant curmudgeon.

    • all in the name of god. whats basically wrong with most religions they are a house of cards based on FAITH – stories from thosuands of years ago of an age of ignorance and STUPorstion.

      bTW here is a history of xtianity (appologies to the many xtian groups who even marry gay people etc_ its just the church of the endless hidden molestation due to its sex starved preists and the church of hte confederacy ) now also known as evangelicals) who are still in the darrk ages re marriage and trans peoples rights

  9. Instead of learning what Erin posted that gender identity is something innate and medical treatment can include surgical procedures when appropriate, McHugh learned the opposite lesson! Another issue is we still have high suicide rates post-op. One reason is we still face discrimination, hate, and violence. Another set I’ve learned from my FB Gender Research group. Doctors still prescribe bad drugs like Premarin instead of non-conjugated estradiol, and spironolactone which can have bad side effects. Or they drop E levels too much post-op.

  10. So many thoughts.

    First, McHugh is clearly a bitter old man at this point. I spent a bunch of time fact-checking and investigating his column in First Things a while back. ( ) This is mostly a regurgitation of the same nonsense, with a skewed interpretation of the long term follow up studies he cites.

    McHugh’s termination of the Gender Identity Clinic at Johns Hopkins had nothing to do with the Reimer case, nor in fact with any methodologically sound analysis. He in fact walked into that role with the intent of shutting the program down on the basis of his personal opinion. ( )

    With regards to the David Reimer case, and what it means for transsexuals, I’m a little more cautious about it. First of all, you have to recognize that Money’s working model at the time was that gender identity was “learned”, and therefore, the plasticity youth would allow you to “teach” someone a gender role from an early age. In the light of today’s evidence, that theory was tragically flawed, and David Reimer was an unfortunate victim of a profoundly flawed experiment.

    Having said that, if you look at the trajectory of David Reimer’s life, and in particular the strong insistence throughout of a masculine identity, in spite of everything he was told/taught. Although reversed (Reimer was not trans by birth, but rather by the result of a medical accident), his identity story closely parallels many of the common dimensions of transsexual narratives. In short, it reinforces a notion of essentialism in gender that people like McHugh both claim and deny at the same time.

    McHugh argues that a transsexual is “choosing” their gender for what he seems to view as spurious reasons, while at the same time asserting that gender is in fact a “biological reality” rooted in the physical body. Whether we are talking about it from a genitalia perspective, or looking at chromosomes and DNA doesn’t really matter.

    Transsexuals are living demonstrations that there is far more to the picture than the obvious physical attributes. Tragic as David Reimer’s story is, it actually to a degree represents an experimental demonstration that gender identity is not purely a matter of learned behaviours and identity. In some ways, the failure of Dr. Money’s hypothesis serves as a validation of the narratives of so many transsexuals. ( I attempted to go after this using an inferential reasoning model: )

    Dr. McHugh may be an embittered old man, but his words continue to be used by the political right wing that lobbies against even the most basic of human rights protections for trans* people. It would be easy to dismiss him as a “a cranky old man”, but we cannot afford to ignore his statements. The political cost is far too high.


      From “Psychiatric Misadventures”:
      “Moral matters should have some salience here. These include the waste of human resources; the confusions imposed on society where these men/women insist on acceptance, even in athletic competition, with women; the encouragement of the “illusion of technique,” which assumes that the body is like a suit of clothes to be hemmed and stitched to style; and, finally, the ghastliness of the mutilated anatomy. But lay these strong moral objections aside and consider only that this surgical practice has distracted effort from genuine investigations attempting to find out just what has gone wrong for these people–what has, by their testimony, given them years of torment and psychological distress and prompted them to accept these grim and disfiguring surgical procedures.”

      Beyond the fact that McHugh’s decided what “human resources” he in his sole responsibility feels should be allotted to those who need them based on spurious post-Freudian armchair psycho-scatology, the terrible “confusions” placed on the unaffected who should never be discomfited and who aren’t dying as a result of lack of treatment, his assumption that trans neurology doesn’t exist and is therefore the wistful fashion of the SEXUALLY over-attaining and not a life-threatening and -destroying condition, And that he’s denigrated every surgeon, ER and triage physician and first responder because of his “moral objections” based on what’s ookie; but he’s shown how poorly I think now and will become worse at by his ignoring completely the progress of the last twenty years and the simple evidence and proof of need-for-treatment for “just what has gone wrong for these people”. Perhaps he should have studied memory itself rather than False Memory Syndrome.

      Where was I? Oh, yeah… I won’t bother with the standard INAH3 and BSTc studies and don’t believe you need to see them or these, but someone may, so, just some fanciful modernities…

      “The microstructure of white matter in male to female transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A DTI study” Rametti et al
      “Our results show that the white matter microstructure pattern in untreated MtF transsexuals falls halfway between the pattern of male and female controls.”

      “Neuroimaging Differences in Spatial Cognition between Men and Male-to-Female Transsexuals Before and During Hormone Therapy”
      “The present study indicates that there are a priori differences between men and transsexual patients caused by different neurobiological processes or task-solving strategies and that these differences remain stable over the course of hormonal treatment.”

      “Increased Cortical Thickness in Male-to-Female Transsexualism”
      “These findings provide further evidence that brain anatomy is associated with gender identity, where measures in MTF transsexuals appear to be shifted away from gender-congruent men.”

      “Specific Cerebral Activation due to Visual Erotic Stimuli in Male-to-Female Transsexuals Compared with Male and Female Controls: An fMRI Study by Gizewski et al”
      “Significantly enhanced activation for men compared with women was revealed in brain areas involved in erotic processing, i.e., the thalamus, the amygdala, and the orbitofrontal and insular cortex, whereas no specific activation for women was found. When comparing MTF transsexuals with male volunteers, activation patterns similar to female volunteers being compared with male volunteers were revealed.”

      “Dichotic Listening, Handedness, Brain Organization and Transsexuality”
      “Taken together, the dichotic and handedness data reported here indicate that the MtF and FtM conditions are not mirror images in terms of the verbal-auditory aspects of their brain organization and neurobiology plays an important role, particularly in the development of the male-to-female trans-condition.”

      “Effects of cross-sex hormones on cerebral activation during language and mental rotation: An fMRI study in transsexuals.”
      “Language activation increased after sex steroid treatment in both groups”

      “Transsexual patients’ psychiatric comorbidity and positive effect of cross-sex hormonal treatment on mental health: Results from a longitudinal study — Marco Colizzi,Rosalia Costa, Orlando Todarello”
      “The results revealed that the majority of transsexual patients have no psychiatric comorbidity, suggesting that transsexualism is not necessarily associated with severe comorbid psychiatric findings. The condition, however, seemed to be associated with subthreshold anxiety/depression, psychological symptoms and functional impairment. Moreover, treated patients reported less psychiatric distress. Therefore, hormonal treatment seemed to have a positive effect on transsexual patients’ mental health.”

      “Hormonal therapy and sex reassignment: a systematic review and metaanalysis of quality of life and psychosocial outcomes”
      “Very low quality evidence suggests that sex reassignment that includes hormonal interventions in individuals with GID likely improves gender dysphoria, psychological functioning and comorbidities, sexual function and overall quality of life.”

      “The results in term of global satisfaction are high despite a relatively high rate of complications as well.”
      “Results in terms of well-being and psychological improvement justify this treatment despite its relatively high morbidity.”

      Opposed to both McHugh’s and Berger’s artifactual twentieth century declarations that surgery will not cure delusions, I believe calling upon the ghost of Walter Freeman and his twin ice picks would do wonders for them. Failure to treat is murder.

  11. I find it “amusing” that non-transgender people declare themselves to be “experts” on the transgender community.

  12. McHugh is another idiot ignoramus that seems to either be unaware or deliberately unmindful of any and all of the many studies, papers, and facts about the transgendered. To call transsexuality a “lifestyle choice” is the height of irresponsible ignorance. For the Wall Street Journel to publish such McHugh’s editorial rubbish and thus give credence to his false, grossly wrong, and completely misinformed ideas is nothing short of criminal. McHugh and the WSJ have hands stained with the blood of thousands of TG suicides and murder victims. For edification of the ignorant let it be known that transsexuality is NOT a choice or psychological in nature. It is the result of an inuterro physiological process that occurs to the fetus about
    seven weeks after conception. Further, it is not unique to homo sapeins, it occurs in all species of mammals. This and the continuation of transsexuality among countless succeeding generations demonstrates, in my
    opinion, that the important function of
    transsexuality is that of a survival imperative of the species. We should study the role of the transsexual members of various species within the social order of those various species. The results of such studies could be most illuminating, maybe not to bigots like McHugh, but certainly to all fair-minded and inquiring men and women of science.

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