March 26th 2016

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ROYAL COMMISSION INTO SEXUAL ABUSE: J'accuse...! A travesty of justice

CANBERRA OBSERVED Turnbull's grand plan coming apart it seems

EDITORIAL Defence White Paper: rhetoric outpaces action


DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE Is not family breakdown the real issue?

ECONOMICS Oil offers resistance to free market's operation

HISTORY OF TAIWAN Kaohsiung Incident opens road to democracy

LAW AND SOCIETY Section 18C may render all speech "inoffensive"

VICTORIAN PARLIAMENT Risk to democracy, rights in health complaints bill

RESEARCH Transgenderism: treat it as a mental illness

MUSIC In deliberate pursuit of accidental sounds: Arve Henriksen

CINEMA AND SOCIETY Hollywood writes in "hero" part for Trumbo

CINEMA Hailing the Golden Era: Hail Caesar!

BOOK REVIEW Diminished expectations

BOOK REVIEW 12 million refugees

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Transgenderism: treat it as a mental illness

by a News Weekly contributor

News Weekly, March 26, 2016

The treatment of young people changing their gender is presented as normative by the Safe Schools Coalition Australian program. Even some primary schools are announcing that children are “transgendering” to another sex. So, what is and how safe is transgendering? This article summarises the advice of experts in the medial profession who deal with transgender issues.

People who identify as transgender experience a mismatch between the sex they were born with, and their gender identity. This includes genderqueer people, whose identities are not exclusively masculine or feminine, but may, for example, be bigender (experiencing two gender identities), pangender (a wide multiplicity of gender identities), genderfluid (fluctuating between gender identities), or agender (without gender).

Walt Heyer

Psychiatrist John F. Oliven of Columbia University coined the term transgender in his 1965 reference work, Sexual Hygiene and Pathology, replacing the term transsexual, which had been introduced in 1949 by surgeon and neuro-psychiatrist David Oliver Cauldwell. Cauldwell distinguished “biological sex” from “psychological sex”, and saw the latter as determined by social conditioning. He regarded sex reassignment surgery as an unacceptable response to transsexualism, and instead advocated that it be treated as a mental disorder.

Transgenderism is also known as gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder (GID). The various levels of transgender manifestation include dressing as the opposite sex, receiving hormonal treatment, or undergoing sex-change surgery.

The Nottingham Centre for Gender Dysphoria found in a study that transgenders have high levels of mental-health problems including depression, resulting in increased levels of self-injury and suicidal ideation.

Walt Heyer, who was a married father of two when he underwent a sex change operation at the age of 42, states today: “Gender change is at its heart a self-destructive act. Transgenders not only annihilate their birth identity, they destroy everyone and everything in their wake: family, wife, children, brothers or sisters, and career.”

He came to realise that his desire to change genders stemmed from deep-rooted childhood trauma, rather than a genetic disorder, and had his surgery reversed eight years later. His correspondence with several other people who had undergone and subsequently regretted sex-change surgery revealed the main trigger of their gender dysphoria to be abusive childhood environments.[1]

A Finnish study, published in April 2015 in the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, found that girls with gender dysphoria have many other mental-health issues; autism spectrum problems were very common.[2]

The researchers stated: “In the majority of the applicants, gender dysphoria presented in the context of wider identity confusion, severe psychopathology and considerable challenges in the adolescent development.”

They concluded: “In the presence of severe psychopathology and developmental difficulties, medical [sex-reassignment] treatments may not be currently advisable.”

Endocrinologist Charles Ihlenfeld, who lives with his gay lover and administered hormone therapy to 500 transgenders over six years, concluded: “80 per cent of the patients who want to change their sex shouldn't do it. … There is too much unhappiness among people who have had the surgery. … Too many of them end as suicides.”[3] The transgendered candidate, he said, has been described as “the only patient who diagnoses himself and prescribes his own treatment”.[4]

In the 1960s, Johns Hopkins University was the first American medical centre to venture into sex-reassignment surgery. A follow-up study in the 1970s found no evidence that the operations improved the quality of life of transgenders compared with those who had not undergone surgery, and the centre stopped performing these operations.

Dr Paul McHugh, the Professor of Psychiatry in charge of the John Hopkins centre, and who has been studying transgenders for 40 years, said: “Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.”[5]

Dr McHugh said: “A rare issue of a few men – both homosexual and heterosexual men, including some who sought sex-change surgery because they were erotically aroused by the thought or image of themselves as women – has spread to include women as well as men. Even young boys and girls have begun to present themselves as of the opposite sex. Over the last 10 or 15 years, this phenomenon has increased in prevalence, seemingly exponentially.”

He added: “Publicity has promoted the idea that one’s biological sex is a choice, that whether you are a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, is more of a disposition or feeling about yourself than a fact of nature. And, much like any other feeling, it can change at any time, and for all sorts of reasons.

“In fact, gender dysphoria – the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be of the opposite sex – belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it. With youngsters, this is best done in family therapy.”[6]

A Karolinska Institute in Sweden 2011 study followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery, over the period of 30 years.[7] The study revealed that around a decade after the surgery, the transgendered began having increasing mental difficulties. Their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable non-transgender population. Dr McHugh stated that this probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the ageing transgendered after surgery.

Walt Heyer wrote: “The reality is that strong feelings and the surgeries put the transgender in a limbo state, living somewhere between male and female and not fitting into either.” Heyer underwent therapy and is now living happily as a man.

Dr Joseph Berger, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, stated before the Canadian House of Commons: “The proper treatment of emotional unhappiness is not surgery. Cosmetic surgery will not change the chromosomes of a human being. Cosmetic surgery will not make a man become a woman, capable of menstruating, ovulating, and having children. Cosmetic surgery will not make a woman into a man, capable of generating sperm that can unite with an egg or ovum from a woman and fertilise that egg to produce a human child. These are the scientific facts.”[8]

The American College of Pediatricians “urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.” It maintains: “Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health – not genetic markers of a disorder. The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female. Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species. A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking.

“Rates of suicide are 20 times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex-reassignment surgery, even in Sweden, which is among the most LGBQT-affirming countries. What compassionate and reasonable person would condemn young children to this fate knowing that after puberty as many as 88 per cent of girls and 98 per cent of boys will eventually accept reality and achieve a state of mental and physical health?”[9]


In conclusion, the best medical experts on this issue, as well as people like Walt Heyer, strongly state that those who identify as transgender need counselling and therapy, not sex-reassignment surgery. Schools are not experts in psychology; some children who claim to be transgendered have serious underlying issues that are best resolved through psychological treatment.

Our children have a right to have their privacy and sexuality respected. It is not safe for schools to allow students to claim newly devised rights based on their changeable feelings, overriding the basic rights of others.



[1] Walt Heyer, “Transgender characters may win Emmys, but transgender people hurt themselves”, The Federalist, September 22, 2015.

[2] Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino, Maria Sumia, Marja Työläjärvi, and Nina Lindberg, “Two years of gender identity service for minors: overrepresentation of natal girls with severe problems in adolescent development”, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, April 9, 2015.

[3] “Charles L. Ihlenfeld (1937 – ): sexologist, psychiatrist”.

[4] “Ihlenfield cautions on hormones”, TRANSITION No. 8, 1979.

[5] Paul McHugh, “Transgender surgery isn’t the solution”, The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2014.

[6] Paul McHugh, “Transgenderism: A pathogenic meme”, Public Discourse, June 10, 2015.

[7] Cecilia Dhejne, Paul Lichtenstein, Marcus Boman, Anna L.V. Johansson, Niklas Langstrom, Mikael Landen, “Long-term follow-up of transsexual persons undergoing sex reassignment surgery: Cohort study in Sweden”, February 22, 2011.

[8] Joseph Berger, Comments to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

[9] The American College of Pediatricians, “Gender ideology harms children”.

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