NARTH-affiliated doc lobbies against “special right” to be equal for trans people, calls them “deluded, psychotic.”

Joseph Berger is a past Chairman of the Toronto district of the Ontario Medical Association, and past President of the Ontario branch of the American Psychiatric Association.  He was also affiliated with NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, an organization formed specifically to “cure” people of being gay), although his bios scrub this fact and it’s not certain if he is presently affiliated with the group (He was a Scientific Advisory Committee member in 2006, and a speaker on behalf of NARTH in 2010).  While a scientific advisor, Berger garnered notice when he recommended bullying as a solution to gender diverse youth (original now offline):

“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.

“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.”

At the request of Gwen Landolt of R.E.A.L. Women of Canada, he sent a submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (JUST) to oppose the trans human rights Bill C-279.  ARPA Canada has now forwarded this submission to every sitting MP, in anticipation of Third Reading of the bill.

Berger urges MPs to oppose C-279, because according to him, trans people don’t exist:

Scientifically, there is no such a thing. Therefore anyone who actually truly believes that notion, is by definition deluded, psychotic.

He then goes on to explain that what trans people experience is “just unhappiness,” as if risking losing everything — family, spouses, children, employment, friends, assets — in order to make a whole life change is simply the path of least resistance for unhappy people.

He takes some special pains to assert that he is “speaking now about the scientific perspective – and not any political lobbying position that may be proposed by any group, medical or non-medical.”  So he’s putting aside his role as a champion of ex-gay therapy, as he presents a scientific argument that contains absolutely zero authoritative citations.  Ironically, he concludes:

As a psychiatrist, I see no reason for people who identify themselves in these ways to have any rights or privileges different from everyone else in Canada.

I say ironically, because that is not what the Canada Human Rights Act does.  Despite Berger’s often-repeated reference to C-279 as granting “some special allowances or attitudes or possibly even ‘rights’,” what it would actually do would be to assure that trans people can’t be denied employment, housing and access to services simply because of who they are.  Which would put them on the same level as everyone else in Canada.

Added:

It was pointed out that on the submission, contact info was retained.  Be aware that abusing that info will simply feed a neo-conservative’s persecution complex and give them the opportunity to spin the response as proof that we’re “psychotic.” I really do recommend that people keep the response public, professional and responding to the ideology, not the person.  This is important.

  1. Reblogged this on Cait.

  2. thanks Mercedes for bringing this issue to the forefront. While this one doctor may have his professional opinions, i am sure there are many other doctors who disagree with him. Let’s hope folks at WPATH and CPATH will write to the justice committee with a rebuttal.

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • January 16th, 2013

      CPATH did compose a submission to the committee. I don’t know if it has been similarly forwarded to all sitting MPs like this has, but will ask.

    • Kaye Martin
    • January 16th, 2013

    Mercedes, thanks for providing the ‘Berger Submission’. Initially I found Dr. Berger’s position upsetting; after a few hours reflecting upon it while walking in my beautiful city it no longer troubles me. Dr. Berger is just another source of white noise.

    • Lucia Gonzalez
    • January 16th, 2013

    This article does prove beyond scientific doubt that morons do exist and, for reasons that defy logic, can get professional credentials that they put to good use to discriminate against the most disenfranchised members of society. I have no doubt that this ‘scientist’ has a political agenda as well.

  3. Dr. Berger claims that anyone who believes the claim “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body” is delusional, and frankly, I agree: anyone who believes that is literally true is nuts.

    It is, however, just a “figure of speech”, not intended as a statement of fact, we all know that, and here’s a fellow a lot of transsexuals express dislike for providing support for just that understanding… here’s Ray Blanchard, arguing in support of publicly funded surgery:

    The phrase, “A woman trapped in a man’s body” (“Anima muliebris in corpore virili inclusa”) was originally used to describe male homosexuality. Transsexuals seized upon this phrase as the only language available for explaining their predicament to themselves and for communicating their feelings to others. The great majority of patients understand full well that this is a façon de parler, not a literal statement of fact, and are not delusional in any normal sense of the word.

    Blanchard is presenting a strong defense of medical treatment for transsexuals, by the way, involving a fair amount of offense:

    Transsexualism is a physical disease
    A few studies on homosexual males raise the possibility that transsexualism might, at the neuroanatomic level, literally represent a type of intersexuality. Such a conclusion would certainly change the complexion of the nosological debate. One might then ask who is more delusional – the transsexuals who claim they are “women trapped in men’s bodies” or the person who continues to insist they are not. At present, however, the empirical data are lacking to decide this matter one way or the other.

    Keep in mind that this was written in the year 2000, and the evidence that transsexualism is based in neurological variation from normal brain development and is indeed a form of intersex keeps piling up… so the “who is more delusional” question grows ever more pertinent, as in “why is this loony still allowed to practice medicine”?

    thanks,
    – bonzie anne

    The case for and against
    publicly funded transsexual surgery
    “,
    RAY BLANCHARD, Ph.D. and J. PAUL FEDOROFF, MD. Psychiatry Rounds, April 2000, Volume 4, Issue 2. DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, CENTRE FOR ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH. TORONTO, ONTARIO.

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • January 16th, 2013

      Thanks for this. Although, it’s a pretty scary day when Ray Blanchard’s papers can be used to counter someone even worse….

      • I don’t believe that Blanchard is as awful as some make out… although the gender clinic at CAMH apparently stinks, I think that it is (sadly) not that far out of the ordinary for a clinic (too many cooks spoil the broth, etc).

        Frankly, the most appalling papers on transsexuals and transsexualism coming from a “supporter” have been written by Anne Lawrence (with Bailey neck and neck), both playing politics by trying to make transsexuals seem perversely irrational… which is pretty stupid, if you compare the soundness of the arguments put forth by the folks they wish to undercut with their own “psychoanalytic” trash (I’m thinking of “Shame and Narcissistic Rage in Autogynephilic Transsexualism” and “What Many Transgender Activists Don’t Want You To Know” in particular here).

        Anyway, from what little I know, Blanchard strikes me as a very distanced clinician – a stance not unusual for psychotherapists, and for research psychologists in sexology? Is there a norm? (LOL: there’s not enough of them to say!), as opposed to the publicity-hungry propagandists who have fronted for his hypothesis on HSTS/Autogynephilic as the sole types of transsexuals.

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