Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Autism and the Transgendered

Clearly, this is the horror story of the day. It shows what can happen when transgendered individuals become the latest, greatest oppressed class… deserving of every consideration and attention. And of course, receiving of the full protection of the Obama administration.... which tends to see everything through the lens of civil rights.

Beyond the question of whether or not these individuals are suffering from a psychiatric disorder or whether God made a mistake in giving them the wrong body, the current mania is not only allowing boys to shower in girls locker rooms. More importantly, it is producing more transgender individuals.

One knows, because one has read Ethan Watters’ book Crazy Like Us, that it is possible to produce epidemics of different mental illnesses. During the Victorian period there was an epidemic of hysteria, in England and on the European continent. The epidemic stopped, on its own, in the 1920s.

In Hong Kong, before 1997 there was no anorexia. Then a girl died of self-starvation and the media became saturated by stories about the dangers of anorexia. The result of this enhanced consciousness of anorexia was an epidemic of anorexia. Girls who were troubled but who did not know what was wrong lit on the idea that they were anorexic. They stopped eating.

Physicians often have difficulty dealing with people whose problems are ill defined. Anyone who is troubled and who needs medical attention might very well select an illness or symptoms that have been publicly recognized as worthy of care.

The same applies to those who want to become culture heroes. If they select a symptom that the nation is focused on, they are more likely to receive the kind of public adulation that has befallen one Caitlyn Jenner.

It is nearly certain that the current national conversation about transgenderism has produced more cases of transgenderism. It is most easy to see in cases of the disabled, people who are relatively easy to manipulate.

Consider the case of the daughter of social work professor Kathleen“Kelly” Levinstein. Both mother and daughter are autistic. They are on the spectrum. The daughter believed that she was a lesbian until she saw a television show that suggested another interpretation: she was really a male trapped in a female body.

Allow Levinstein to explain:

My daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, as am I, is now 19 years old. She had felt (and told others) that she was a lesbian most of her life. When she was 16, she began watching a TV show called “Degrassi,” which featured an FtoM character. After a few weeks, she announced that she was not actually a butch lesbian, as she had previously said, but was in fact trans. 

The daughter started going to meetings of a group called PFLAG—short for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. The meeting functioned like a cult that recruited people by convincing them that they were trans.

Levinstein continues:

She started attending a local PFLAG meeting, where she met many trans people, including a number of FtoM trans teenagers who were raving about a certain “gender therapist.” Although the APA recommends a minimum of one year of “gender counseling” before surgery, this gender therapist (whom I consented to, before really understanding what I was doing) gave my daughter the go-ahead to have a bilateral mastectomy after only two sessions. This gender specialist never reviewed any of the Special Ed records or spoke to my daughter’s previous therapist, who had known her for a decade. And, crucially, she never asked my daughter, “Might you be a lesbian?”

The gender therapist (whom I believe has an unholy financial alliance with the surgeon) gave my daughter (then 18 and one day) the go-ahead for the $30,000 surgery (covered for all university employees and their families where I work). My daughter is now on testosterone (which she clearly is unable to evaluate the risks and consequences of).

How well did the girl understand what was happening to her? Not very well at all.

Levinstein explains:

To give you some sense of my daughter’s level of understanding of what it means to transition, she told me recently that she believes that the testosterone “will grow her a penis.” I had to break the news to her that, although this is the mythology in the PFLAG meetings (where a number of the other young trans people are also autistic), this is not the case.

In any rational and moral community this would easily be recognized as criminal activity. Levinstein implies that the people involved in this scam ought to be prosecuted:

She has been taken advantage of. Healthy organs were amputated. This is insurance fraud, poor clinical practice, a violation of APA standards, unethical and unjust. It is a crime not just against women, but particularly against disabled women. So many of these young women who are “transitioning” are also autistic.

My daughter has a representative payee on her SSDI [disability] check, as it was felt that she was unable to handle her own money. This was of little concern to the gender therapist. I believe that once the therapist realized the “treatment” would be covered by the University of Michigan insurance, it was full speed ahead.

The girl was unable to handle her own money but was allowed to consent to radical surgery that mutilated her healthy female body. And then, to consent to hormone therapy.

How is Levinstein’s daughter doing? Sorry you asked:

She had a legal name change in Dec of 2014, a bilateral mastectomy in April 2015, and started testosterone in Sept 2015.  My daughter has severe Crohn’s Disease, and currently, she is having grave reactions to the testosterone. She has been hospitalized three times now for complications.

And naturally, given the current state of American culture, you will understand that Levinstein has been attacked for questioning these dogmas.

How many times have we heard that anyone who is anti-trans is indulging in hate speech. In New York City you can get fined for using the wrong pronouns. In Canada they are proposing laws that will incarcerate people who say the wrong thing about the transgendered.

Levinstein explains:

Instead, there is a vilification of anyone daring to ask questions about these issues, including the evidence of MtoF physical, sexual and psychological violence against women. Women who publicly question receive death threats, threats to rape us and our children, burn us to death with gasoline, decapitate us, and so on. This all coming from people who claim they are our “sisters.”

Even health care professionals have been silenced.

She continues:

I have found no health professionals willing to go on the record against this. Everyone is afraid of professional suicide and threats of violence. I am standing alone.

My daughter’s latest hospitalization has been described by doctors as due to “absorption issues.” She now has a full beard but still has her period. The testosterone is wreaking true havoc on her system.

Autistic women (again, I am one) frequently have a difficult time, sensory-wise with their periods. But rather than attempting to help us with this difficulty, our problems get labeled  “gender dysphoria” and the answer has become to remove our periods from us.

We will find out in 20 years the effects of testosterone on our young women. I am confident that it will not be a pretty picture.

Making this a civil rights issue ought to be a crime, in and of itself.


Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: In Hong Kong, before 1997 there was no anorexia. Then a girl died of self-starvation and the media became saturated by stories about the dangers of anorexia. The result of this enhanced consciousness of anorexia was an epidemic of anorexia. Girls who were troubled but who did not know what was wrong lit on the idea that they were anorexic. They stopped eating.

This narrative sounds surprising simplistic and the word "epidemic" sounds unnecessarily dramatic, but I accept that's what media does - exaggerate to gain attention, and they succeeded apparently.

Here's a review of the book, Crazy like us, with the case.
Watters presents his argument with four case studies. The first one focuses on the tragic death of an emaciated 14-year old woman in Hong Kong, who fainted and fell to her death in broad daylight in 1994. When journalists wanted to report on the case, they quickly found out, using Google, about the symptoms and causes of anorexia nervosa. Soon after, awareness campaigns and prevention programs were organized based on Western insights—and lo and behold, the number of young women in Hong Kong suffering from anorexia nervosa increased dramatically.

By way of contrast, Watters describes the research and ideas of Dr. Sing Lee, who had studied a small number of women patients who had deliberately starved themselves. Interestingly, they did not display the symptoms of anorexia nervosa. They did not have a morbid fear of becoming overweight, did not have body image issues, and did not starve themselves to look thin and attractive.

It appeared that Dr. Lee had found a rare form of mental illness which might be unique to Asia, and which resembled anorexia nervosa, but was a distinct disease entity. Unfortunately, he was not able to cure this condition with the aid of traditional Chinese medicine and other approaches based on local culture. His only patient with this condition died of starvation.

It does make sense to consider that all categories of human behavior contain cultural aspects that are not universal, and not directly applicable to people raised in very different cultures, even if there are universal needs behind any given behaviors in a given culture.

And it makes sense that people who are suffering are willing to grab onto whatever culturally legitimate explanations for their experiences, and that allows them to gain attention and sympathy, and this can contain copy-cat behavior, just like any "defense mechanism" we learn to sooth negative feelings or whatever.

But all I get out of this is that we shouldn't trust mass media or google-searches to replace professionals expertise.

Marsh said...

This is truly horrifying. How could any Dr do this to an autistic person?

Also, handing out hormones like it's no big deal is absolute madness. If our hormones aren't balanced, it causes illness. Of course giving females male hormones (and vice versa) are going to have terrible consequences.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: The daughter started going to meetings of a group called PFLAG—short for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. The meeting functioned like a cult that recruited people by convincing them that they were trans.

I had heard of PFLAG before, but never looked into it.
PFLAG, formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, is the United States' largest organization for parents, families, friends, and allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ).

Of all the letters of LGBTQ, transgender looks the most radical, at least if it implies a medical need for irreversible surgery to "fix" this defect. Anyone who doesn't say this is drastic and extreme is lying to themselves. On the other hand, cosmetic surgery is also considered "normal" by much of modern culture, in that case enhancing existing sexual dimorphisms.

I actually had just seen a video from Venezuela, and their success in creating "Miss Worlds", and where cosmetic surgery is their #2 industry behind oil.
Here's one recent report. Venezuela is having a shortage of brand name breast implants leading women to turn to unapproved devices from sources such as Craigslist. Cosmetic surgery is the country's number two industry behind oil. We look at Venezuela's obsession with plastic surgery, in this Lip News clip with Elliot Hill and Mark Sovel.
Or Beauty Obsession -Venezuela, 2002 - Osmel Sousa's quest for creating beautiful women seems to know no bounds, and it's symbolic of an obsession with beauty in Venezuela.

It is easy enough to feel a paternalistic desire to protect vulnerable youth from false idols like beauty, but once a person becomes 18 or 21 or whatever age of consent we decide, its hard to know how to influence an unhappy person to believe "if I could just change X" everything would be different.

At least cosmetic surgery isn't paid for by health insurance, then money can become the moderating influence, but with payment plans financial costs can be pushed into the future. And even if we made a law for "cash only" on such medically unnecessary surgery, perhaps economy-of-scale still works on surgery, and costs will be reduced to a level that people will pay for them.

Anyway, it would seem good if PFLAG could take a more conservative stance of "sexual reassignment" surgery, but I admit I don't see where to draw the line. My line would be "no medically unnecessary surgery", and we're better off living in a world where people accept themselves as they are.

My 20yo niece recently said she doesn't like her protruding jaw, and there's apparently some corrective surgery to help her, but it seemed outrageous from what I remember, and I think I blocked my memory of the details.

Anyway I'm not willing to put gender change surgery in a much higher class of outrage. It's all dangerous crap to me.

Anonymous said...

What a tragic story, all the more so, because it seems to be in service of some
vague notions of scientific and political correctness. This is Lysenko-ism on
steroids. And the thought-criminal status assigned to the dissenters is even
more terrifying.

Ares Olympus said...

Reading more about this specific case, it is a clear tragedy, and shows a complete lack of accountability - both in the "gender therapist", and the fact the university of the mother provided insurance coverage for the surgery.

It does look like a case of a "true believer" in this therapist, someone who is not interested in protecting his/her patients, but promoting gender transitioning, perhaps as a way to normalize it.

I've never had a need or inclination to sue anyone, but if you consider the harm committed, and the potential for more harm, if there are no laws broken, this "gender therapist" needs to be sued and stopped in her tracks for gross incompetence.

Or alternatively, the University or their insurance policy also needs accountability for supporting dangerous and unnecessary surgery without enforcing proper requirements, like the "minimum one year of 'gender counseling'" recommendation.

Finally it would seem good for groups like PFLAG to accept their dangerous enabling and recognize their own culpability, and I can see that might be difficult. If you imagine all the evil in the world exists in your "persecutors", then you can fail question your false (one-sided) beliefs.

Cult is a good word for this blindness, as is any group that advocates only on one side of an issue. Or as Rush Limbaugh said "Never trust the facts of people with causes." This is a text book example.

KCFleming said...

Great post about a terrible injustice.
Since my own employer went full SJW on several issues, I'm fearful that speaking scientific truths will soon be forbidden.

I concur bout the faddish news of certain diseases.

KCFleming said...


Anonymous said...

No human beings involved, only ideology.
History Repeats.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I'm so glad that Ares has found merits in these arguments.

My God, man... about time you'd woke up!

Anonymous said...

This is an adult who made the decision to have the surgery. Why the mother didn't continue as guardian after she turned 18 isn't addressed in this naraative

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