I teach science and one of the assignments I often assign my students is to write an Op-Ed on a science issue. I give them various guidelines on these are the things that make up an Op-Ed, this is the general length, here are some examples and here are some current topics in the news. From this I usually get a variety of ‘why we should care about climate change’, ‘why X pseudoscience is bad’, ‘Vaccines’, ‘Plastics’, etc. One of my suggested topics for my class this time was LGBT health, because it was PRIDE month and there are quite a few legitimate health issues that are in need of reform that pertain to the LGBT community.
This essay is in response to one of the Op-Eds written, because it was full of what continues to be the most blatantly ignorant and scientifically erroneous garbage on the topic of transgender health.
Before I get to the main premise of the article, some things that set my teeth on edge before I even read very far, was in essence the phrase ‘I’m not racist but,…’ which everyone knows nothing that follows this is ever anything but racist. Second is this convoluted nonsense propagated by the alt-right that their message is the ‘truth’ and they are sorry if we snowflakes are offended by this. They have this idea that PC culture is somehow an infringement on their free speech, and that they feel culturally censored or that liberals are offended by the truth. This generally has two main problems, one; the government (which grants the right) will not act to stop you from saying what you want in most cases. But free speech as a right is only from government, prosecution, you are still held responsible by society. Second, the things that people claim as ‘truth’ are often not factual or true, and simply saying ‘you are sorry if the truth offends people’ does not automatically make your statement true. Simply saying something is a fact doesn’t make it so. Also voicing opinions that are bigoted under the guise of simply saying things that you presume are true that no one wants to hear doesn’t make your message enlightened. Self-asserting a proposition is true is not how truth works, and particularly when on a science subject is not how facts and evidence work either.
The main premise of the Op-Ed was that transgender people are suffering from a mental illness and we should prioritize seeking treatment for them, not acceptance for them into society.
The first part of this is statement is objectively false by all current standings of science, the second part is a philosophical social issue. I will make my point very clear here so that it is easy to rebut these statements in the future from people.
On May 25, 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) voted to revise its International Classification of Disease (ICD) position on transgender mental health. Dr Lale Say, a health expert at the World Health Organization, said: “It was taken out from mental health disorders because we had a better understanding that this was not actually a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma.” (WHO, 2019; BBC Health, 2019). The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association views Transgender as a “non-medical term that has been used increasingly since the 1990s as an umbrella term describing individuals whose gender identity (inner sense of gender) or gender expression (outward performance of gender) differs from the sex or gender to which they were assigned at birth” (Drescher, & Pula, 2019). Both APAs further note that Not all transgender people suffer from gender dysphoria and that distinction is important to keep in mind. Gender Dysphoria is a “psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder” (APA, 2011).
These reversals of position held in the 20th century are a result of decades of research, and the bulk of any scientific literature on the subject rejects the notion that being LGBT represents a mental disorder, immorality, or social deviancy. The conclusion of decades of research points to the affirmation that “LGBT people have a sexual orientation or gender identity that is normal, healthy, and legitimate” (Bidell, 2016; British Psychological society, 2012; Bidell, & Whitman, 2013). So to make the argument that Transgender people are suffering from a mental illness is a fallacy argument. Historical Fallacy arguments are made to justify a position, because X was true at one point, and thus must still be true. Being homosexual was also at one point also considered a mental illness and often punishable under a criminal code and even thought to be curable. But the inevitable march of science has illuminated the errors and expelled the heinous notions that were previously used to demonize and dehumanize an entire group of people.
The next erroneous and garbage science argument made against LGBT health is that of evolution. I personally love this argument because of its irony, that conservatives rage against evolution because it conflicts with their theological ideology then try to invoke it when they think it agrees with them. I am sorry to say conservatives, evolution doesn’t agree with you, you still don’t know what the fuck you are talking about. Evolutionary theory is vast and complex and your attempt to bastardize it to justify your garbage ideology is half assed, and pathetic. The position in the Op-Ed, was that being transgender is “actively detrimental to the human species”. Now this is the same regurgitated argument that is made against homosexuals, (- southern drawl – how they guna repaduce? God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve). This argument offends me as a scientist on multiple levels, not simply because the science is atrocious but because they also don’t understand how math or statistics work and make inferences that some percent of the population will disappear as a result of this non-breeding group. But the failure here is not applying the statistical likelihood of LGBT to humanity since the beginning. If the human population has always had up to 7% LGBT individuals and we just never knew it and we didn’t just start making ‘the gays’ in the 80s, we have long been increasing our population regardless of this supposedly ‘sterile’ group of individuals.
From an evolutionary perspective simple reproduction is not the absolute metric. There are many vestigial traits we humans have that are of no benefit to us, and do not impact our population numbers. I could write a whole essay on evolution and homosexuality as we see in the animal kingdom; but the point being that sexual reproduction in 100% of a population is not necessary. In some animal species we see the adoption of lone infants from single or unmated animals for a variety of reasons; whether it is a misplaced reproductive function or gaining valuable maternal experience. In any case non-reproductive parenting is often a natural component of many species. So to say that there is some evolutionary disadvantage to LGBT persons because they engage in relationships that do not produce offspring is, as usual, scientific ignorance. Personally, I would hypothesize that LGBT traits in our population are an evolutionary benefit, meant to teach us compassion and empathy towards our fellow man; and as a result of this learned skill we may avoid killing each other off and thus preventing our species extinction.
One of my favorite quotes in the Op-Ed was “I’m not saying they can’t be productive members of society, just that they aren’t normal humans as evolution intended.” To which I responded that from an evolutionary perspective humans evolved larger brains and as a result became smarter and were capable of more complex problem solving and so Ignorance is not an evolutionary advantage. I am not saying ignorant people can’t be productive members of society, just that they are not normal humans as evolution intended.
The next stage of our slow descent into fucktardom, was the assertion of abnormality due to statistics. Now I don’t know much about statistics, other than the fact that 54% of all statistics are made up on the spot. But one thing I do know is that if you have 7% of your population that is LGBT and presumably has always been present in the human population then this is what is called natural diversity. It was claimed that there seems to be some threshold of percent required to attain ‘normalcy’ and that any number below that was ‘abnormal’. To which I would say, conservative adherence to strictly binary thinking (black and white, good and bad) simply doesn’t lend them the critical thinking skills necessary for complex analysis. Conservatives and theists have a propensity for false dichotomy arguments. I find that a common atheist argument works well here, that just because you don’t understand how something works doesn’t mean god did it, or the ‘god of the gaps argument’. Just because you don’t understand biology, genetics and statistics doesn’t mean there are only two viable outcomes of human development (normal and abnormal).
The next two points made in the Op-Ed are regrettably the most abhorrent of the lot. In most Op-Eds there is the single point or issue, highlighting an example or explaining the problem and then moving to make a suggestion or action they want the reader to take. What seemed to be the suggested action was that of eugenics:
Basically, if we can figure out the cause of transgendered people, whether it starts in the womb or later in life, we can figure out ways to prevent it like the mental disorder that it is. Many people don’t like to regard it as such though.
Yes, sadly many people don’t regard it as a mental disorder, namely every organization that is considered the pinnacle of human understanding into mental health. I honestly doubt the student even grasps the gravity of their suggestion. To me, suggesting that in our exploration for cures for genetic disorders that simply adding transgender to the list of things we could cure or prevent, essentially constitutes advocacy for eugenics. Couple the general tone and context of the essay, it is not illogical to inferr the author was stating that transgender is an undesirable heritable characteristic and that we should actively remove these traits; by which we would improve the human population on an evolutionary scale – which is a textbook definition of eugenics.
Wow, Eugenics… well this can’t get worse. Oh wait… there is another paragraph. By this point I was ready to throw in the towel, I couldn’t mentally take anymore. I took a day off and came back to it, had a few beers and thought I was prepared to tackle the last point and conclusion. But no essay that included eugenics is truly complete without some reference to the Jews and the Holocaust.
I honestly don’t know how to introduce this point other than to simply quote what was stated and go from there:
However, in one study it was shown that more than 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide at some point in their life. Regardless of completion of the act, numbers like those rival the numbers of Jews during the Holocaust. People who claim that the unhappiness of the trans community comes from societal treatment can’t argue that trans people today have suffered the same misfortunes as Jews in Nazi Germany. The only logical reason for such high suicide attempts is that their brains are physically impaired just like in other mental disorders. Rather than trying to protect the feelings of these people (which sounds like a lost cause) we should invest in preventing their conditions from ever happening.
The student got an F on this assignment simply for the content of this paragraph. I am not even going to deal with the issue of the Holocaust, because it is to absurd. What I will deal with is the actual [Scientific Evidence] based reason for such high suicide rates in transgender people.
There should be no misunderstanding, transgender people face high rates of discrimination and violence in the United States (Miller, & Grollman, 2015; Rhonda, & Rothblum, 2008; Lombardi et al, 2002). They face high levels of stigmatization, victimization, physical threats, and harassment leading to negative mental health outcomes, higher school dropout rates, economic marginalization and unemployment (Nadal, Skolnik, & Wong, 2012).
Transgender individuals are four times more likely than the general population to have an income less than $10,000 (Sears, & Badgett, 2012). The low income of transgender individuals is exacerbated by the fact that 19% have reported being refused housing due to their gender expression, and one-fifth have reported being homeless at some point. When they are able to find jobs they are frequently subjected to negative performance evaluations, missed promotions, unfair terminations and face these things with inadequate legal protection against discrimination (Attia, 2016; Bailey, 2014).
Transgender individuals face discrimination from medical establishments and social groups which can make getting treatment or establishing social safety nets difficult. This lack of resources to make healthy behavioral choices can increase the likelihood of engaging in health-harming behaviors (drug use and self-harm) (Cochran & Mays, 2000; Pascoe, & Richman, 2009). The culmination of these daily stressors generates higher percentages of mental health issues (depression, anxiety, dysphoria, etc.) and thus increases the suicide rates within a vulnerable population (Miller, & Grollman, 2015). Because as case and point, transgender persons have to deal with ignorant fucktards who write Op-Eds about how they are abnormal humans who should be genetically expunged. So while transgender people are not currently rounded up for summary execution, their lives are made extraordinarily difficult by the majority of the population that goes out of their way to be preverbal shit stains on the social landscape. The comparison to the Jewish population in WWII and the subsequent failure of logic that the only other (false dichotomy) reason for their high suicide rates is ‘mental disorder’ are objectively false. Transgender people are targeted as a vulnerable population because the hate monger ideology of white Christian nationalists can’t be fully demonstrated if they have no one to abuse. This is also a particular reason why there is still objection to the DSM-5 description because many feel the inclusion of transgender in any definition of mental illness perpetuates stereotypes and increases stigmatization.
I will summarize the student’s conclusion as such:
I am an ignorant white person who has never experienced an ounce of hardship in my middle class male white privileged life and I see the world in terms of black and white. Trans people are icky because they don’t look and act just like me, and we shouldn’t accept the social pariahs because they have a mental disorder. We should do like the good old days, when America was Great, and we locked up all the depressed people and women in poorly funded and managed sanitariums. Because taking five seconds to treat them as a human being is too much of a burden on my white experience. I haven’t read any current science on mental health and have never taken a biology or statistics class and so I am sorry if I am wrapping my bigotry in the guise of made up bullshit offends you.
No, your misuse of science to try to justify your bigotry, offends me. Your outright sociopolitical ignorance, offends me. Your lack of empathy and concern for other people different from you, offends me. Your immoral and reprehensible ideology, offends me. Your fallacy argument shit sandwich, you are all too proud of, offends me. Your hypocrisy and drive to further ostracize and demonize a vulnerable minority, offends me.
Facts, Evidence and the Truth do not offend me.
If these people took half the time they did writing this garbage to read something on the subject, they might accidentally learn something. Transgender persons are normal people just like you, they are a natural part of the amazing spectrum of diversity we see in the human population. Diversity is an evolutionary advantage, and has been since the beginning of sexual reproduction.
Transgender people do not suffer from a mental illness, simply by being transgender; and no appeal to pre-21st century science is going to make it true again. Denial of this reality is not truth, and it doesn’t make your bigotry any less. We all have to accept new information, adjust our perceptions and move forward together as a society, that is how we grow as individuals and as people. Failure to do this in the face of overwhelming evidence doesn’t make you woke or a skeptic or a purveyor of truth; it makes you a bigot and a moron, which is not an inalienable right that affords you protection.
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