In my view, the transgender activists are so busy lobbying for new laws of protection that they ignore the 31% suicide rate.
Sex change regret, sadly, can and has resulted in suicide. We only need to remember Mike Penner, aka Christine Daniels, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, who committed suicide in late 2009.
In a U.S.A. Today article dated 2/26/09 Steve Friess says: “(Mike) Penner's story, heralded in its early days as a triumphant example of transgender progress, has instead become a cautionary tale of the lesser-known phenomenon: transgender regret.”
The warning signs of suicide are often difficult to see, and for transsexuals, the high rate of suicide has been underreported. An article in Metabolism says that the suicide rate among transsexuals was five times greater than was expected when compared to a similar group.
Mike Penner, a very talented staff writer for the Los Angeles Times for 25 years, announced he was a female transsexual and began living as Christine Daniels in April, 2007. Except that the transition to female didn't last. In mid-October 2008, after a lengthy leave of absence, Penner, then 51, returned to the Los Angeles Times sports pages and the Times newsroom as a man. In a shadow of regret, he committed suicide only 13 months later.
Currently the acceptable treatment for gender disorders is to assist the patient to change gender. The doctor who originated the radical irreversible treatment in the 1960s, John Money, became best known for his fraudulent research, pedophilia activism and a long-held belief that gender was a learned behavior and not innate at birth.
I want to challenge the status quo of that accepted “treatment.” Because suicide is not a passive consequence when changing genders. Mike Penner became a media darling for changing genders. But changing genders remains without adequate support of quality research studies that objectively conclude the medical and psychological effectiveness of changing genders as a treatment.
Dr. John Money became highly controversial among his medical colleagues when he was one of the first in the U.S.A. to advocate for surgically changing men into women at the Johns Hopkins Gender Clinic in 1966. Ten years later, a follow-up study published by Dr. Jon Meyer, chairman of the Gender Clinic, evaluated 50 transsexuals who had been patients at the Gender Clinic. The findings were a warning sign about the treatment. The report concluded that no improvement was noted in the patients’ psychological functioning as a result of Money’s gender change treatment. The clinic at Hopkins was then closed.
This one psychologist, John Money, set in motion an inexhaustible controversy that continues today between activist groups for gender change as a treatment and psychologists who prefer to have more “objective” medical findings that gender change treatment is beneficial and psychologically effective. I did speak to Dr. John Money in the early 1990’s regarding my concerns for the gender changing treatment; nothing he said resolved my concerns.
It should be noted, no conclusive “objective” research at any time in the last 40 years has demonstrated changing genders is an effective treatment for all gender disorders and suicide among this population remains a problem.
The accepted standards of care for most ailments are scrutinized and tested. Extensive studies are published in the medical literature over a long period of time to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment. But in the case of gender change, the standards of care were developed, adopted and promoted quickly, pushed by people like John Money, Dr. Paul Walker and Dr. Stanley Biber.
John Money’s follow-up study in the 1960s was shown to be questionable, fraudulent and/or misleading. In the forty years since, the effectiveness of changing gender as a treatment for gender issues has not been thoroughly questioned by the medical community through scientific study. No clear coherent knowledge or understanding of how changing genders can be an “effective treatment” in helping the good people with GID exists.
The acceptable standard for treating gender issues was developed and used quickly by one single man without the benefit and credible broad support of his medical colleagues at Johns Hopkins; in fact, it was quite the opposite.
The accepted standard treatment of GID is controversial, its effectiveness is unsubstantiated, and it has no basis in science. Is it any wonder the controversy continues and suicide remains a dark shadow of proof that no real progress in the treatment of GID has been made?
My heart goes out the entire Penner family and his colleagues at the Los Angeles Times.
--Walt Heyer, Male to female transsexual, returned successfully to my male gender now for over 15 years
Asscheman, H., L. J. Gooren, and P. L. Eklund. "Mortality and Morbidity in Transsexual Patients with Cross-Gender Hormone Treatment." Metabolism 38, No. 9 (1989): 869–73.
Steve Friess, “For some, shadow of regret cast over gender switch”, U.S.A. Today, 2/26/09, http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-02-24-transgender-penner_N.htm
"Transgender Suicide Report: Actual" by Laura Amato, www.lauras-playground.com/transgender_suicide_report.htm