- - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Last year, a very intelligent but equally common-sense challenged 17-year-old girl told me she was a boy — the same bombshell she had dropped on her parents several months before, causing them significant angst, as the remaining rational among us can certainly appreciate. I asked if she possessed any male biological characteristics. She freely admitted that she did not. She had come to the conclusion she was a boy because she felt like a boy. I asked how boys felt. After a long pause, she told me she just didn’t feel like a girl. She was more interested in boy stuff. I asked her to define boy stuff. (Full disclosure: I enjoy shopping with my wife and have no interest whatsoever in sports, yet I firmly believe I am a man.) She launched into an obviously rehearsed monologue to the effect that a person’s gender was not defined by biology but was strictly a matter of feelings and that people were free to choose whatever gender they felt most comfortable with (there being, apparently, more than two) and that was that. End of conversation.

In the past couple of years, several parents have asked my counsel concerning teenage children who have suddenly announced that they are not the genders stated on their birth certificates. I honestly don’t know what to tell them, so I fall back on the obvious: Their kids are very confused. In some cases, however, a parent has become equally confused, thinking that perhaps their child is right after all. In one case, a Catholic priest told the parents of a very mixed-up teenage girl that it was possible for a boy to be born in a girl’s body and vice versa. How a priest knows this to be true is beyond me. I can’t seem to find any reference to it in scripture.

In early 2015, Oregon enacted a policy allowing 15-year-olds to obtain “sex-change” operations (Parentheses are used because the term is a misnomer. The operations in question do not change anyone’s gender and are more accurately termed genital mutilation surgery.) Neither the very confused children nor the physicians in question are required to obtain parental consent. When this news broke and became the subject of a group discussion on the Internet, one physician reported that “at St. Louis Children’s Hospital we offer transgender therapy for adolescents. Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, the Catholic children’s hospital in St. Louis, also provides transgender therapy for teens.” It was not clear whether she was pleased or not. Make no mistake, the purpose of said therapy, which is gladly provided by certain psychologists and other mental health professionals, is not to help said adolescents recover from their delusional states; rather, it is to help them accept that what the voices in their heads are telling them is true and successfully adjust. In most cases, this “therapy” precedes being sedated, wheeled into an operating room, and being permanently physically maimed by a physician who is convinced of the nobility of his deed.

I have a pretty good memory of being fifteen years old. It was my sophomore year in high school (1962-63). I was a straight-A student. In addition to what I was required to read for American literature, I was into stuff like Leon Uris’ “Exodus” and “Never Cry Wolf” by Farley Mowat. My hobbies were my chemistry set and building transistor radios. In the IQ department, I was no slouch. But in the emotions department, I was an impulsive, self-dramatic and often irrational moron. And I was the norm, or at least within one standard deviation of it. My observations of and discussions with today’s teens lead me to conclude that impulsivity and self-drama in 15-year-olds has increased exponentially over the past fifty years. And we are to believe that although they are deemed too immature to cast responsible votes, consume alcoholic beverages, join the military, obtain tattoos, drive, smoke, donate blood or even lie in a tanning bed, 15-year-olds are mature enough to decide that their bodies are wrong and obtain “corrective” surgery with or without the consent of their parents.

Anyone who has been fifteen and survived knows that young teens and perhaps teens in general do not possess a clear understanding of long-term consequences. For many of them, the longest of long-terms is the coming weekend. Making matters much worse, the present crop of teens seems to think that a life without drama and victimhood is devoid of meaning. Not surprisingly, their role models are trailer trash like the Kardashians. Is it any wonder, then, that the latest drama of choice is “I’m a girl/boy stuck in a boy/girl body!”“

To be clear, the belief that one’s biological gender is a mistake, that male and female are — in the words of the aforementioned 17-year-old — a matter of feelings is rightly called a delusion. A person who says that when he/she stands in front of a mirror, he/she sees she/he is either hallucinating or lying in order to attract attention to themselves. In either case we are talking about either a serious mental disturbance or narcissistic sociopathy. The people in question—including the infamous “Caitlyn” Jenner — need serious help from compassionate people who know what they’re doing. Apparently, that does not include a significant number of people in my profession, psychology.

Since its founding, psychology straddled the line dividing ideology from science, but in the late 1960s and early 1970s it resolved the tension and become the former while continuing to cultivate a public perception of scientific authenticity. The profession tends to attract people who adhere to a secular progressive worldview, meaning people who believe new ideas are better than old ideas. In psychology, new ideas give birth to new therapies, not one of which has ever demonstrated reliable efficacy. I’ve been a psychologist for 43 years, during which time I worked in a variety of settings, including private practice. My experienced take is that psychologists often (I restrain myself from substituting “more often than not”) encourage people to have symptoms by helping them construct what I call personal soap operas in which they are victims and their symptoms are, therefore, justified. Instead of helping people come to grips with wrong-headedness and become right-headed, psychologists are wont to focus on and legitimate the feelings that arise from the wrong-headedness. That happens because the profession encourages wrong-headedness in its practitioners by promoting fad therapies cut out of whole cloth by people with too much time on their hands. The ruling ethic seems to be “Freud did it; you can too!”

The latest iteration of this psycho-evolutionary process is adolescent transgender therapy (aka gender reassignment therapy) in which a very wrong-headed therapist “helps” a very wrong-headed teenager “come to grips” with the “need” to “resolve the conflict” between his or her self-image and her or his biology. This is child exploitation, pure and simple. But few in the profession are willing to raise even the slightest concerns for fear of being publicly demonized and even hauled up before disciplinary boards and stripped of their licenses. I know all too well of what I speak. In 1995, my licensing board threatened to do just that because I had the gall to question the legitimacy of recovered-memory therapy in my syndicated newspaper column. It took two very expensive attorneys to cause my licensing authority to be content with giving me a slap on the wrist. In May of 2013, the Psychology Board of Kentucky, acting through the Office of the Attorney General of Kentucky, accused me of practicing psychology in Kentucky without a license. Mind you, “practicing” consists of the fact that four Kentucky newspapers carry my syndicated column. Are these people easily threatened or what? Do I have unresolved issues with my profession? No, they are quite resolved, in my mind at least. In my estimation, and I speak from over forty years of experience in the field, much of psychology is quackery and the most recent evidence of its quackery is transgender therapy for children.

That is not to say that counseling per se is bogus, however, because it’s not. But being a psychologist, in and of itself, hardly makes one a good counselor and lots of fine counselors took no more than Introductory Psychology in college, if they even went. Therapists are supposed to help people improve their thinking, develop control over their emotions and enhance the overall quality of their lives. Therapists who “help” 15-year-olds boys accept that they are really girls are helping no one but themselves. We’re talking here about people who think of themselves as compassionate, forward-thinking and morally gifted. A compulsive need to indulge their self-love is their primary motivator. (I must admit, I indulge myself some pride at the fact that most psychologists don’t want me in their club.) Indulging wrong-headedness in adolescents is a means of feeling good about themselves.

For the moment, however, let’s assume that the aforementioned 17-year-old is correct and one’s “real” gender is not a matter of biological characteristics, but rather a matter of one’s feelings and thoughts. In that event — to carry forward the “logic” of this line of thinking — the biological characteristics that define a human being and differentiate said human being from other species are also meaningless. It is a small step from asserting that a biological female is actually and in reality a male to asserting that a human being, defined biologically, is actually and in reality a beaver and deserving, therefore, of certain entitlements befitting a beaver including a cool stream to swim in and the right to dam said stream. Beaver-people might not even know they are beavers in which case they are in need of trans-species therapy to help them get in touch with their real castorial selves. I’m certain there are sufficient numbers of psychologists out there who would jump at this cutting-edge opportunity.

The reader who thinks I’m merely being frivolous should consider that in 1960, one hundred percent of Americans would have regarded as absurd the notion that the United States Supreme Court would legitimize homosexual marriage in 2015. They would have universally scoffed at the idea that in that same year a genetically 100 percent male Olympic champion would publicly announce that he was really a woman and submit to castration to fulfill his bizarre fantasies and that the mainstream media would celebrate his lunacy as “courageous.” In that historical context, the not-too-distant future possibility of humans deciding they are rodents and psychologists offering trans-species therapy to help them make the transition from loathsome earth-destroyers to environmentally-conscious stream-dwelling fur balls is worthy of sober reflection.

In the course of discussing Oregon’s new transgender teen policy with some other mean-spirited bigots, someone lamented, “Where is it all going to end?” The answer to that question is that it doesn’t. The human race stepped over a line in 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association effectively normalized homosexuality by declassifying it as a mental illness. Since then, courtesy of one of the most brilliant marketing campaigns of all time, homosexuals have been able to convince the majority of Americans that their attraction to persons of their own gender is beyond their control, that they were “born that way” — an assertion that most people would be surprised to learn has never been proven and which even some liberal geneticists maintain is impossible. Central to promoting this canard has been the straw man argument to the effect that no one would consciously choose a lifestyle that is reviled by so many. By the same specious reasoning, murderers, rapists, child abusers, child molesters and animal abusers can’t help it. After all, they aren’t thought too highly of either. The argument is absurd, but it worked, and today people like myself who believe homosexuality is a choice with dire moral implications for the chooser are regarded as “haters.” The “they can’t help it” argument, therefore, is ironically self-fulfilling, downright Aristotelian even:

Anyone who thinks homosexuality is a choice is a hater.

By the standard set in (a), a good number of people hate homosexuals.

Therefore, homosexuality is not a choice.

Actually, the lid blew off the Pandora’s box of relativism in the late 1960s, when the new left — of which I was one at the time — decided it was wrong to judge others because in so doing one was using arbitrary (culture- or subculture-specific) norms. The leftie deconstructionists maintained that people should be free to express their individuality in whatever ways they chose as long as said expressions did not violate the rights of others (unless, that is, the “others” in question were opposed to unbridled free expression). “Letting it all hang out” became a sign of the truly liberated (real, authentic) person, regardless of the “it” in question. As the line between right and wrong began to blur, those who stood firm for the preservation of traditional values, for holding the line, became narrow-minded bigots, all the more so if they were Christian.

The Germans call it Zeitgeist, referring to the spirit of the time. In the 1960s, the bulwarks that had managed to keep the pseudo-intellectual barbarians at bay came tumbling down, and the New Jacobins came rushing in. One standard fell to the frenzied mob mentality, then another, then another. The objective submitted to the subjective. Fact submitted to feelings. Truth submitted to relativism. It was inevitable that sooner or later the matter of gender would submit as well.

This is the living hell of post-postmodernity. In the words of one of its prophets, Jim Morrison of The Doors, “This is the end … of everything that stands, the end,” (“The End,” from the Doors eponymous first album, 1967).

Family psychologist John Rosemond is a best-selling author, public speaker, and syndicated newspaper columnist.

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