Right-Wing Think Tank Claims Study Shows No Scientific Basis for Believing LGBT People or Treating Transgender Children With Appropriate Medical Care
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The New Atlantis, a so-called Journal of Technology and Society, released the results of a new, anti-LGBT “study” today. The study, which is over 140 pages and analyzed data from over 200 peer-reviewed studies, is said to show that there is no evidence that people are born gay, or that transgender kids are more successful in life when treated with compassionate and inclusive care.
Among their "findings":
- The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings — the idea that people are “born that way” — is not supported by scientific evidence.
- Compared to heterosexuals, non-heterosexuals are about two to three times as likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse.
- The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex — that a person might be “a man trapped in a woman’s body” or “a woman trapped in a man’s body” — is not supported by scientific evidence.
- Compared to the general population, adults who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery continue to have a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes. One study found that, compared to controls, sex-reassigned individuals were about 5 times more likely to attempt suicide and about 19 times more likely to die by suicide.
- Children are a special case when addressing transgender issues. Only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood.
To be fair, most modern scholars do agree that we don’t know nearly enough about sexual orientation or gender to determine what its root causes are. (And the "trapped in someone else's body" hasn't been a pro-trans argument for decades now.) However, the anti-LGBT right has turned this study into a battle cry for a renewed push against rights for transngender children, a return to fighting marriage equality, and – this seems to be one of their most important goals – a reason as to why they need not treat LGBT people with care and respect.
To fully understand where this study came from and what’s really going on, let’s take a look at its authors and who’s funding it.
The Ethics and Public Policy Center has been at the center of anti-LGBT activism for years. They’ve spoken out in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), in favor of keeping Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and in favor of using religion as a weapon to discriminate.
In their own words, the EPCC describes itself as an "institute dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy. From the Cold War to the war on terrorism, from disputes over the role of religion in public life to battles over the nature of the family, EPPC and its scholars have consistently sought to defend and promote our nation’s founding principles—respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, individual freedom and responsibility, justice, the rule of law, and limited government."
On their “About” page, The New Atlantis says,
We also seek to stir things up — to challenge the general public and policymakers who know too little about science, and to push scientists who often fail to think seriously or deeply about the ethical and social implications of their work.
Paul McHugh (photo), one of the authors of the study, has dedicated his life to anti-LGBT scholarship. His work has been debunked time and time again. McHugh has a distinguished track record of anti-LGBT bigotry and harm. He fully believes homosexuality is a choice and has compared hormone therapy for transgender children to "liposuction on an anorexic child." Simply, there is no possible way anyone can argue that his "scholarship" is unbiased and objective.
Lawrence Mayer focuses on interpretation of experimental and observational data and is the primary author of the study, which analyzed existing research - and reinterpreted it to fit the outcomes they desired. By incorporating many different studies, they had the freedom to pick and choose which pieces of data to use and how to spin them. Mayer also believes that McHugh is "one of the leading psychiatrists in the world."
In the preface to the study, Mayer writes, without any irony:
As citizens, scholars, and clinicians concerned with the problems facing LGBT people, we should not be dogmatically committed to any particular views about the nature of sexuality or gender identity; rather, we should be guided first and foremost by the needs of struggling patients, and we should seek with open minds for ways to help them lead meaningful, dignified lives.
Perhaps he should listen to actual LGBT people, get to know us, learn from us, and realize just how harmful his own “science” can be.
Unlike almost any other nonpartisan real scientific study, this new "study" comes complete with a slick, well-produced video from The New Atlantis, further suggesting far right wing monied interests are behind it:
Image: Screenshot via YouTube