Michael Brown

Who could react negatively to one of my posts? Daisies spring up from wherever I walk. Yet Michael Brown has complained that I compared him to a 911 terrorist.

I did. It is true and I would do it again. At least he quoted me in context. I was careful to point out that, unlike the terrorists, Brown is nonviolent. What they have in common is a literalist view of sacred literature, accepting it verbatim as the word of their god and then acting accordingly.

There is one part of Brown’s kvetch that I feel compelled to react to:

And after claiming that there is no scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed through counseling or that gender-confused children can, with help, become at home in their own bodies, he writes, “If Michael Brown knows of more compelling research, he has not cited it. He has failed to make any meaningful argument in support of conversion therapy. Promoting the existence of this mythical approach only creates prejudice and discrimination. It serves no useful purpose. Come to think of it, Michael Brown serves no useful purpose. It is a cheap shot, but the guy rails against LGBT people all day, every day. Maybe he needs a new hobby.”

Actually, I and others have been citing scientific literature for years, along with an endless number of personal anecdotes from friends and colleagues. (I’m talking about former homosexuals and former transgenders.) But whoever we cite gets discredited immediately, since the psychologists and psychiatrists and therapists and scholars do not adhere to the standard LGBT talking points.

Once again, Brown had a chance to cite some research and failed to do so. He just claims that he has because he knows that anything he cites will be shred.

It will be shred, not because of political will or any agenda, but because conversion therapy is based on the flawed premise that sexual orientation is a mental illness. Sexual orientation is a continuum with heterosexual and homosexual at the extreme ends. Neither the end points nor any point along the way depict a disorder which can be cured through therapy. Moreover, neither sexual orientation nor gender identity are choices subject to correction.

The research that Brown would like to have just doesn’t exist. I have done an exhaustive search through the New England Journal of Medicine and came up empty. Not really but if I did that is where I would end up.

The one study by Robert Spitzer published to a scholarly journal was ultimately retracted with a sincere apology.

Michelle Cretella has published a study on conversion therapy.

  1. It is not her field (she is not a psychiatrist) and;
  2. It was published to the AAPS journal. AAPS is the group dedicated to getting doctors to opt out of Medicare. The group, which was originally founded by John Birchers, also opposes vaccinations and claimed that Obama won the presidency through hypnosis. There is much more but you get the idea.

Here is another example often cited by the Catholic Church’s Courage Ministry. It was published to Linacre which is the journal of the Catholic Medical Association. Perhaps the author’s doctorate in pharmacy is adequate preparation for a study of human sexuality.

The same author, Robert L. Kinney III, wrote another page-turner titled: Homosexual inclinations and the passions: A Thomistic theory of the psychogenesis of same-sex attraction disorder. After all, who would know more about sexual orientation than Thomas Aquinas? And who could doubt that a sexual orientation the Church disapproves of is a disorder?

These things beg to be dismantled. You will not find articles published to JAMA in support of conversion therapy. Picky, picky, picky.

Mr. Brown is incorrect when he says that we expect adherence to certain talking points. What we expect is research by qualified people published to respectable scholarly journals that submit articles to double-blind peer review.

As for gender dysphoria, there exists no intervention known to medical science to diminish or cure the condition. Calling it gender confusion only serves as a reminder that gender dysphoria creates a problem for religious conservatives should someone become transgender to get some relief from the intense suffering that the condition can cause.

The existence of ex-gay and ex-trans people proves nothing. There aren’t that many of them and most, if not all, seem to have a religious conflict with being LGBT. All of the ex-gays that I am aware of seem to have an economic interest in claiming to be ex-gay.

The reason that I get a bit prickly over conversion therapy is that claims of its efficacy (always from religious folks) harm children and their parents. The claims create an expectation of change that is not going to happen. Exodus International did not cease operations because of gay activists. The folks behind it realized that nobody really changes.

When a kid inevitably does not become straight, religious opprobrium in the form of shame gets piled upon shame and it does real damage to already fragile egos. Child and parent are both better off if they accept the child for who he or she is. The alternative is for the child to lie and claim that the mystical alchemy turned him straight. That dishonesty will have lasting consequences for the entire family.

Brown has a PhD. He should know better than to confuse a belief system based on faith with science which is based on evidence. If he would apply the same skills that enabled him to obtain his doctorate I wouldn’t be criticizing him. However, that is not the case.

Related content:

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.