Trans science: Anti-trans reparative center closed; UA to offer trans studies program; new trans studies

susan strykerLEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — A notorious center for anti-trans reparative therapy in Canada has been shut down, curtailing decades of harmful treatment. The closure of Dr. Kenneth Zucker’s Child, Youth, and Family Gender Identity Clinic at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) followed an independent review into it’s operations. They found, among other things, bias, backwards thinking, humiliation as a standard practice and cases of not placing the client’s needs ahead of family members.

Trans advocate Brynn Tannehill told ThinkProgress“This [independent review] is damning, and long overdue. The transgender community has been saying the same things the report concluded for over a decade. Given the unethical, unscientific, and damaging nature of the work done at CAMH and revealed by this report, the research done there by Dr. Zucker and his cohorts there will be relegated to the dustbin of junk science, where it should have been all along.”

Tannehill also said Dr. Zucker’s decades of damage will not go away as fast as the clinic will.


Scientific American in December, 2015 ran a wrap on trans research: “Is There Something Unique about the Transgender Brain?” Some kids immediately know they’re not the not the gender of their birth sex, and exploration of this indicates that there may be a genetic basis. Studies show trans people tend to have similarities to brains of their experienced gender than those of their natal gender (ie: a trans man’s brain is similar to a biological male’s brain), or a brain uniquely different from either the male or female brain. Although findings for a biological cause for gender dysphoria continue to grow, the case of a doctor being able to provide definitive answer to whether any given child is trans is still down the road.

(Researchers:  Antonio Guillamon of the National Distance Education University in Madrid and Carme Junqué Plaja of the University of Barcelona;  Sarah M. Burke of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam and Julie Bakker of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.)

The University of Arizona is developing a transgender studies degree program set to begin in 2016. Director Susan Stryker of the University of Arizona Institute for LGBT Studies says interest in the program remains high since the idea was first hatched by her in 2013 following UA’s desire to retain her employment at the university.

Stryker says the university saw the idea as a means to raise their international profile, enabling them to attract quality students and research funding.  $150,000 of outside funding has already been raised and faculty positions are falling into place and an international conference is planned for September 2016.


Politically, trans people still transit stormy waters, but scientifically, the seas are smooth.

susan stryker

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Categories: Transgender, Transsexual, Trans

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7 replies

  1. I’ve applied to the master’s program at U of A for Rhetoric, Composition and Teaching English. I heaven’t heard back yet, of course, but I wonder if I might apply for some parallel work in Stryker’s department. I confess, I’m rather intimidated by her, though. Geniuses kinda make me all tongue-tied.

    • Michelle Rose, there is no reason to be intimidated by Dr. Stryker. I have had the good fortune to meet with her several times. Yes, she is indeed brilliant but she is also very kind, very funny and very down to earth and approachable. U of A is very fortunate to have such an eclectic genius on faculty. If you’re going to school there by all means take advantage of her presence there. You’ll be glad you did!

    • Michelle… she was the external reader on my doctoral dissertation several years ago. I had never met her, and when I found out that my supervisor had lined up SUSAN STRYKER I was kind of terrified. It turned out she was a generous reader and critic. Since then, I’ve since gotten to know her and it turns out she is also — surprise! — a delightful and generous person. Really, she is so lovely (and funny). No need to be scared.

    • Michelle, to be a great professor, she needs great students! The program is supposedly still under development, so call her up — she’s probably looking for people like you! 🙂

  2. Zucker’s own control (non-treatment) group results (and those of Zuger and Green) discredited his work decades ago. Not for the reasons expressed in his current de-throning though. Consistently, non-treatment groups of young children diagnosed as “GID-C” or “Gender Dysphoria” defy the predictions (and interests) of researchers like Zucker because they generally don’t grow up either trans or body-dyphoric without treatment (they typically grow up to be gay and happy in their bodies). There is no justification for Zucker’s work – it applies cruel scrutiny and attempts at identity resolution (foreclosure) on young kids. There is even less justification for the even more brutally pathologising, identity foreclosure practices of treating young gender non-conforming children as “wrong bodied” and socially coercing them (through a narrative of “becoming true self via congruence of body and behavior) to a social pathway towards sterilization and lifelong medical dependence. It is very different for someone to chose a transsex pathway than for it to be socially shaped as the only way for their gender expression to be acceptable.

    We need to address the conditions that give kids discomfort – helping families and schools accept complexity (bodies , gender aspects and sexualities can happily match in many ways) and to understand children don’t owe them “congruence” or a static identity. Zucker enabled this new more brutal conversion/ identity foreclosure therapy by obscuring the results which showed there was no need for his interventions (nor for other “congruency ” interventions). Gender non conformity in childhood is healthy and largely unrelated to adult body- dysphoria. Kids need us to accept of all of who they are – not contingent on things matching in a particular way.

    Zucker should have been decisively debunked years ago. Because he wasn’t even more brutal and anti-science forms of identity foreclosure and conversion therapy have been allowed to flourish.

    Labeling 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 year olds “trans” is about as anti-science as you can get. Kids only achieve any sense of “sex-constancy” before school age if we specifically mean biological sex AND if they are directly informed of the body parts relating to this (See Bem 1989 – yes the same one misquoted by gender-essentialists). Gender as a concept separate to sex is beyond the expressive capacities of children this age. They express themselves concretely and focussing on one aspect at a time. There is at this stage nothing that can differentiate between kids who (without parent led) would grow up to be body-dysphoric and those who feel other kinds of gender difference (gender diversity, gender-role questioning or pre-homosexuality), we should allow kids to be and become, without excessive scrutiny or predicting or creating crisis. Gender non-conformity doesn’t need treatment. It should be celebrated. children’s identities should be allowed to evolve and unfold and to surprise us. They don’t owe it to anyone to make sense or to be uncomplicated.

  3. I was caught up with John Money school of gender care back in the nineteen sixties when I had surgery for a undescended testis. The surgery found female bits in the form of germ cells and such. We are not sure exactly what was found or done during the surgery, I wasn’t told a thing, nor where my parents.i was in surgery for hours and was left with a huge scar. Later on that same testis proved to be a fetal ovary when I came down with ovarian cancer as an adult. The hospital must have known that I was intersex. Deep down I knew that even at ten years old I was transgender and or intersex. My youth would have been much easier had I known the extent.
    I shared my hospital room with a child born with ambiguous sex male sex organs and he was given a sex change because it was believed at that time children could be molded into what ever gender the surgeon felt was eazier to make. In his case a girl.
    My surgery was needed but was done improperly the other child should not have been given the sex change until he could decide that was something he needed.


  1. Second transgender studies program surfaces — thanks to transgender billionaire Jennifer Pritzker – LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS

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