“Most of the religion-oriented objections to gender affirmation inherently presuppose that  a conspiracy to bury dissent exists or that the 87-year-old retired Paul McHugh has knowledge that no one else has…”

Ryan T. Anderson
It should be obvious that Ryan T. Anderson is an advocate for the
Catholic Church over the best interests of people with a medical
condition that he disapproves of.

I have hired (and fired) a fair number of people with doctorates. Many business people would agree that, presented with two otherwise equal candidates for a non-technical managerial position — one with a master’s degree and the other with a PhD — the best choice is usually the one without the PhD. I’ll leave you to ponder why that is.

The dreamy Ryan T. Anderson needs a non-managerial job at a place like Heritage Foundation where he can basically hide without consequences. Thursday, at Witherspoon Institute’s blog, Anderson has penned: “The Philosophical Contradictions of the Transgender Worldview.” At the outset it should be obvious that gender identity is not something that should be subjected to philosophizing and that gender affirmation does not construct a world view.

In other words a philosopher is forcing an issue into a framework that he feels comfortable with, regardless of the suitability to do so. Another way to look at this is as pseudo-intellectual pablum designed to support the teachings of the Catholic Church and to sell Anderson’s book. Anderson lacks the expertise to have written a book about gender dysphoria in the first place. It is a scientific subject. Before philosophizing, Anderson was a music major.

Ordinarily my custom is to quote portions of a piece and then to react. I cannot do that with Anderson’s latest screed because it is so unfocused that it can only be understood in its entirety. In its entirety it expresses the opinions of someone who is unable to accept the science because it conflicts with the teachings of the Church.

In Anderson’s world, when the Church and science are in conflict, the Church prevails. That means that Anderson prefers a belief system, one based on faith, over science which is based on evidence. Therefore, it is no coincidence that Anderson attempts to relegate gender identity to a belief system. It is a requirement of defying the known science.

Anderson quotes from various sources who pretty much explain the same thing in different ways. I think it was Eugene Volokh who recently explained this simply as 2^(-1) is the same thing as 1/2 or 0.5. Anderson says “I am confused.” I concur. Anderson is confused. He then asks the reader something to the effect of “aren’t you confused?” The answer to that question should vary depending upon the critical thinking skills of reader.

Anderson attributes something (I’m not really sure what that is) to what he calls: “Transgender Catechism.” In doing so, Anderson confirms that his real confusion is between faith-oriented belief and evidentiary science.

All scientific endeavors are a process of ongoing discovery and investigation. We do not have all of the answers about gender dysphoria and some of what we think we know might prove to be false in the future. However, the only rational approach to medicine is to work with what we have and to acknowledge what we do not have.

Along those lines, we have a clear understanding of what gender dysphoria is. Indeed, over time the science has advanced from defining it as a disorder to defining it as a discomfort. We also have evidence that the brains of people with gender dysphoria have some structures consistent with the opposite sex.

What we do not have is a means of assessing those cerebral differences except postmortem. We also do not have knowledge of any intervention that directly addresses gender dysphoria.

There is no grand conspiracy to obscure knowledge that some psychologist in the Swiss Alps has created an effective talk therapy protocol or that chemists in Bolivia have discovered a pill. Most of the religion-oriented objections to gender affirmation inherently presuppose that such a conspiracy to bury dissent exists or that the 87-year-old retired Paul McHugh has knowledge that no one else has or is willing to utilize for (apparently) nefarious reasons. That is what doesn’t make any sense.

We also have an understanding of how gender dysphoria affects people. In some people it can cause acute depression and anxiety because they have a persistent and extraordinary need to identify with their gender.

We have a pretty well-defined protocol for helping young people with gender dysphoria. Puberty blockers provide a safe period for further diagnostic analysis while diminishing the symptoms. Developing bodies consistent with natal sex causes extreme distress. Trans boys, for example, do not want to grow breasts. If a child desists then withdrawing puberty blockers will allow him or her to experience puberty just as they would have without the blockers.

More research is welcome and required. Many studies are already underway. They will further inform clinicians who are responsible for informing patients and their families. Treatment protocols might be revised. However, peer-reviewed articles of findings from such new research will not inform Ryan T. Anderson of anything. He has already arrived at conclusions based primarily on his religious beliefs.

No rational person would conform medical treatment to the teachings of the Catholic Church over medical science; faith over evidence. Doing  so should be unthinkable. Nevertheless that is precisely what Anderson advocates. As he does so he is fostering discrimination and marginalization. Some of the recipients of that persecution are children. Anderson is shameless in defense of the faith.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.