“Confusing faith-based religion with evidence-based science requires one to torture logic and reason to the point where no science survives.”

American College of Pediatricians
What is “best for children” is the preference of science over religious dogma.

Religious conservatives have sent a letter to the administration regarding transgender people on the stationery of American College of Pediatricians. Those signing the letter include several hate group leaders. Also, according to Southern Poverty Law Center, American College of Pediatricians is itself a hate group.

The people who signed this thing are not embarrassed to be associated with a hate group. There are signatures from medical doctors. Every one of those is at odds with their own professional association. Every one of those has irresponsibly substituted their religious faith for medical science. (A list of signatories and their associations is “below the fold.”)

The letter is addressed to:

  • Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Secretary Betsy DeVos, U.S. Department of Education

At the outset the letter seeks to commend the administration for its anti-LGBT policies. This includes redefining sex to eliminate gender as a consideration. This entire letter pretends for religious reasons that gender — as a separate construct from natal sex — does not exist. All the while these religious conservatives dishonestly claim that they are championing the science.

For example:

According to the Institute of Medicine, sex is a narrowly defined biological term.
Sex is a biological trait that defines living things as male and female based on the
complement of sex chromosomes and the presence of reproductive organs.i The
American Psychiatric Association defines sex similarly as the “biological indication of male and female (understood in the context of reproductive capacity), such as sex
chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, and nonambiguous internal and external

The name Institute of Medicine was phased out two years ago. Since then it is known as The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. If Michelle Cretella actually practiced medicine and met continuing education requirements, she might know that. Perhaps.

A recent editorial in Nature International Journal of Science is headlined: US proposal for defining gender has no basis in science. It is subtitled:

A move to classify people on the basis of anatomy or genetics should be abandoned.

According to an article in Scientific American to which leading experts contributed:

As science looks more closely … it becomes increasingly clear that a pair of chromosomes do not always suffice to distinguish girl/boy—either from the standpoint of sex (biological traits) or of gender (social identity).

These sum up the scientific consensus accurately.

The ACPeds letter indulges in proforma intentional confusion and an intellectually dishonest presentation of statistics:

Gender identity is not an immutable trait found anywhere in the body, brain, or
Gender identity is an awareness of, and comfort level with, one’s physical body.
Gender identity may be factually correct or factually incorrect, and, unlike sex, may
change. Children with gender dysphoria, for example, will come to identify with their
biological sex in 61-98 percent of cases by adulthood. There is also a rise in the
number of adults who seek surgery to reverse their past sex reassignment surgeries.

They say the exact same nonsense about sexual orientation not being immutable. Michelle Cretella promotes thoroughly discredited conversion therapy. She does so in an attempt to support the teachings of the Catholic Church. It all translates to “God did not create LGBT people” because that would create a conflict with scripture.

As for the statistics about desistance, even if true (which is not the case) I fail to see the relevance with respect to how we regard transgender people. Obviously, those are people who have not desisted. Furthermore,
those percentages are derived from four very dated studies going as far back as 40 years. Included is the discredited “Sissy Boy” study which glued gender identity and sexual orientation together.

Furthermore, according to the nation’s leading expert on trans youth, Kristina Olson at University of Washington, that is misleading. Based on evidence-based research, once the severity of gender dysphoria is such that a child transitions they almost never desist.

Further along in the letter, these people have created a problem. This idiotic letter is just the latest part of the problem of persecuting gender diverse people. They use the very problem that they themselves have created to disparage transgender folks:

The rate of suicide attempts among transgender identified individuals has been estimated
to be almost 9 times that of the general population. Sweden is a transgender affirming
country that has adopted laws and policies conflating sex and gender-identity.
Nevertheless, a study conducted by researchers there in 2011 found the rate of completed
suicides among surgically “gender-affirmed” adults to be 19 times greater than that of the
general population. Clearly, transgender affirmation does not prevent suicide, and may
paradoxically worsen the emotional health of these individuals in the long term.

“They” keep making this claim but they omit some important information. This study includes people who had gender-affirming surgery as far back as 1973. That’s 45 years ago. Furthermore, the opinion of these researchers (with whom I have communicated) is that suicide is the result of minority stress syndrome.

The conclusion that these Swedish researchers draw from the study is that transgender people need improved counseling. The conclusion that the religious zealots who signed this letter arrive at is that people should not be transgender. It is farcical. People affirm their gender as the only means of mitigating the extreme misery of gender dysphoria.

Many of those people also lacked family support or even rejection. Moreover, due to discrimination, the economic reality is that trans people can find it difficult to support themselves. The people who signed this letter could help to reduce transgender suicide by simply accepting the science and encouraging others to do likewise.

Do not forget that purpose of this letter is to support religious dogma.

Not being transgender to reduce suicide is also contrary to science, logic and reason. The research clearly indicates that youth who transition have levels of anxiety and depression at, or near, those experienced by the general population. That translates to a reduction in self-harm.

When it comes to minority stress, the folks who signed this letter are carriers.

Let us also remember that there is no intervention known to medical science to treat gender dysphoria.

Overall, the letter asserts that people with gender dysphoria require psychiatric treatment that focuses on the patient’s natal sex. They do not — and cannot — cite peer-reviewed research published to a respected academic journal which supports their claim. Their religious disapproval came first. Then came the contortions to prove that they are right. They are not right.

Confusing faith-based religion with evidence-based science requires one to torture logic and reason to the point where no science survives. This is apparent in the near closing paragraph:

As the biological men and women they are, transgender-identified individuals
possess the same human dignity and right to the equal protection of the law as all
Americans. For the law to respect the human dignity of all Americans, including those
who identify as transgender, it must be based on biological truth; not on ideological
falsehoods at the expense of children and women’s rights, health and well-being.

Gender is not an ideology, philosophy or doctrine no matter how much and how often religious conservatives claim otherwise. Ironically, they are projecting because it is their religious belief that is an ideology. It is based on faith: no proof or evidence required. The scientific study of gender is based on evidence.

The science separates gender and natal sex quite clearly. Yet those who do not like the science always get back to a confusion regarding the two constructs as some sort of amalgamation that does not exist.

Noticeably missing from those who signed this letter is Lawrence S. Mayer who co-wrote with McHugh those objectionable articles in New Atlantis. I find that interesting.

In signing the letter, Dr. Michael Laidlaw (signing as Michael K. Laidaw) reveals a website; gdworkinggroup.org. The domain was registered last spring and this is the first that I have heard of it. It will be the subject of another post. Dr. Laidlaw, by the way, likes to write anti-trans essays for the Witherspoon Institute, an ultra-orthodox Catholic organization. His is an unhealthy obsession. Laidlaw tweets this BS several times each day.

Dr. Paul W. Hruz also signed the letter. He is part of Alliance Defending Freedom’s stable of phony expert witnesses. Many of these names are familiar due to their anti-LGBT advocacy and antics.

To the best of my knowledge not one of these people has ever published research on gender dysphoria to a respected, peer reviewed academic journal.

Signature order is left-to-right

Michelle Cretella, M.D.
Executive Director, American College of Pediatricians
Donna Harrison, M.D.
Executive Director, American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and
David Stevens, M.D.
CEO, Christian Medical and Dental Associations
Peter Morrow, M.D.
President, Catholic Medical Association
Stephen M. Krason, Ph.D.
President, Society of Catholic Social Scientists
Paul McHugh, M.D.
University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical
School and the former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital
Michael K. Laidlaw, M.D.
Endocrinologist and member of gdworkinggroup.org
Craig Stump M.D., Ph.D., FACE
Endocrinologist, University of Arizona College of Medicine
Paul W. Hruz M.D., Ph.D.
Pediatric Endocrinologist, Physician-Scientist, Associate Professor of Pediatrics,
Associate Professor of Cellular Biology & Physiology
Angela Lanfranchi M.D. FACS
Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical
Susan J Bradley, M.D., FRCP(C)
Professor Emerita, University of Toronto
J. Michael Bailey, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Northwestern University
Marie T. Hilliard, MS, MA, JCL, Ph.D., RN
The National Catholic Bioethics Center
Mary Lou Singleton, MSN, FPC-BC
Christopher Doyle, LPC
Co-Founder National Task Force for Therapy Equality
David Pickup, LMFT
Co-Founder National Task Force for Therapy Equality
Laura Haynes, Ph.D., California Licensed Psychologist
USA Representative, International Federation for Therapeutic and Counseling
Choice (IFTCC.org)
Michael Farris, J.D.
President, CEO, & General Counsel
Alliance Defending Freedom
Matthew D. Staver, Esq.
Founder and President, Liberty Council
Charles LiMandri, J.D.
Founder and President, Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund
Robert J. Muise, Esq.
Co-Founder, American Freedom Law Center
Gerard V. Bradley, J.D.
Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame
Steven D. Smith, J.D.
Warren Distinguished Professor of Law
University of San Diego
Maimon Schwarzschild, J.D.
Professor of Law
University of San Diego
Larry Alexander, LL.B.
Warren Distinguished Professor of Law
University of San Diego
Tony Perkins
Family Research Council
Frank Cannon
American Principles Project
Matthew J. Franck, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Witherspoon Institute
Sharon Slater
President, Family Watch International
Austin Ruse
President, Center for Family and Human Rights
Allan C. Carlson, Ph.D., Editor,
The Natural Family: An International Journal of Research and Policy
Patrick Lee, Ph.D.
McAleer Professor of Bioethics
Center for Bioethics, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Christopher Wolfe, Ph.D.
Distinguished Affiliate Professor, University of Dallas
President, American Public Philosophy Institute
Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D.
Research Professor of Sociology and Director, Leo Institute for Catholic Social
Research, The Catholic University of America
Robert G Kennedy, Ph.D.
Department of Catholic Studies
University of St. Thomas
Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.
Founder and President, The Ruth Institute

Now I think that I will send Dr. Laidlaw a choice tweet.

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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.