Sex-change delusionDr Berger is the most outspoken member of NARTH, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, though he is not and has never been a member of the WPATH, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
Sir - Every profession has members of whom colleagues are deeply ashamed. I am a consulting psychiatrist, and I am appalled at the ignorance shown by my German colleagues who have approved the wish of a 12-year-old to "change sex" (Telegraph.co.uk, January 31).
The notion of a person being "trapped in the body" of someone of the opposite sex is nonsense. If someone genuinely believes that, then they are indeed delusional. They are suffering from a psychiatric disorder, and the treatment of delusions is not with hormones and genital surgery.
Far more likely is that the person is plain unhappy with who they are, and the treatment of unhappiness is not with hormones and genital surgery either.
Dr Joseph Berger, Toronto, Canada
Dr Berger is best known for his eccentric views on child health and bullying.
NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee member Joseph Berger said on a blog in reaction to a San Francisco Chronicle article on gender identity issues, “I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex - but not counselling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.and
“On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world.
“Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.”
“Here in cold Canada, I often talk with mothers of small children who routinely complain about how difficult it is to get their children dressed in the winter in the multiple layers of clothing they need to go off to school. I suggest to them that they make it clear to their children that they will leave home — or that the school bus will come — at such-and-such time, and they will go whether they are ready or not. I suggest that going just one day in their pajamas or underwear will be enough to “cure” them of their procrastination.”After some unfortunate incidents, NARTH has quietly disavowed Dr Berger's views, and removed his controversial articles from their website. According to their website:
Sex differentiation takes place immediately as the male or female begins to develop within the womb. The sex hormones --primarily estrogen and testosterone--have a significant impact on the behavior of males and females. Why do boys typically like to play with trucks and girls like to play with dolls? Feminists usually claim this is the result of socialization, but there is growing scientific evidence that boys and girls are greatly influenced by their respective hormones.It is unfortunate that this eccentric and outspoken individual has been given the opportunity to express his controversial and distinctly minority viewpoint "as a consultant psychiatrist" without challenge or explanation of his
Males and females are not only markedly different in the hormones that drive them, but they are also different in the way they think. The brains of men and women are actually wired differently.
To be sure, gender-distorting prenatal abnormalities do affect some individuals, and may increase the likelihood that such an afflicted person will later self-identify as transgendered or transsexual (and in some cases, homosexual).
But barring such unfortunate developmental errors--- which we should not normalize as if they were not disruptions in normal growth and development--the simple truth remains: maleness and femaleness are innate and integral parts of our human design.
Zoe Ellen Brain