Mental Illness Should Not Drive Policy That Disrupts Thousands Of Years Of Moral Order

John Arehart (Photo: Shutterstock

John Linder Former Congressman
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Agnes Nelson lived just down the street from us in Deer River. She worked as a clerk in Butch Shafer’s drug store. She wore men’s shirts and pants. She carried her pack of Lucky Strikes in her shirt pocket like the rest of the men in town. She had her hair cut in Ken Hill’s barbershop.

As I grew old enough to notice something didn’t seem normal I asked my mother what was going on.

My mother responded, “She’s a lovely person, but she’s just different.”

Looking back I feel certain that Agnes, from time to time, had to go to the bathroom. It didn’t cause any problem for that little town of 800 people in Northern Minnesota. It was no big deal.

President Eisenhower did not decide to show his concern for Agnes by mandating that she be allowed to use the bathroom of her choosing. Had he done so it would have forced the people in that town to consider the issue, not as a question of decency or modesty, but as a matter of public policy. Then views would change.

The Obama administration has used transgendered people, 0.3 percent of the population, as a means to achieve a political end.

Two years ago a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review board ruled that Medicare would pay for the “reassignment” surgery sought by the transgendered.

One year ago, in his first trip as Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter held a town hall style meeting in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was asked his thoughts on transgender service members.

Secretary Carter responded, “I’m very open-minded about … what their personal lives and proclivities are, provided they can do what we need them to do for us.”

In the past week the Obama administration announced to great fanfare the appointment of Barbara Satin, an 82 year-old transgendered woman, to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based Neighborhood Partnerships.

The appointment was accompanied by a press release that highlighted Satin’s lifetime of commitment to LGBTQ issues.

A Minnesota company was sued by the administration for refusing to let an employee, who was hired as a man, to use the women’s bathroom. The settlement included a $115,000 payment, an agreement to call the person “her” and the expunging of “any poor evaluations, discipline, or discharge documents after September 1, 2010” from personnel records.

The order that public schools open all bathrooms to any person is a natural follow-on to administration policy that is willing to use confused people to disrupt thousands of years of order.

The effort over the past several years to “normalize” what is clearly abnormal does not enhance the lives of the object class. They deserve humane consideration, not objectification.

We know very little about the psychological issues that lead one to “wish” or “choose” to live a life totally different from how they were born.

Mental health professionals who specialize in gender identity differ on how it should be dealt with, but are clear on what they are dealing with, a mental disorder.

“It’s different from other mental disorders,” says Jack Drescher, a New York psychiatrist who was part of the American Psychiatric Association’s work group on gender identity.

“In a typical mental disorder, we try to make those symptoms go away. “He said. “Here the treatment has emerged to align the person’s body to match their gender identity.”

Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh says that it is a “mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken – it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.”

The transgendered person’s disorder, said Dr. McHugh, is in the person’s “assumption” that they are different than the physical reality of their body, their maleness or femaleness, as assigned by nature. It is a disorder similar to a “dangerously thin” person suffering anorexia who looks in the mirror and thinks they are “overweight.”

Johns Hopkins was the first American medical center to perform sex-reassignment surgery in the 1960s. After a 1970s study of outcomes of those who had undergone the surgery they stopped the procedure.

Rates of suicide among those dealing with sex confusion are 20 times higher than in the general population.

Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic tracked children who had reported confusion about their sexuality and found that in 70 to 80 percent of the cases the feelings dissipated over time.

Proving that this is a political issue rather than a medical issue, progressive legislatures passed laws barring psychiatrists, even with parental permission, from striving to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor.

Making sexuality the central focus of administration policy forces the nation to make a judgment on normalizing a mental disorder as a matter of public policy.

This does nothing to help the confused 0.3 percent of our population, but it does disrupt thousands of years of moral order which fits precisely with President Obama’s commitment to “transform” America.

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