National Affairs Rory Leishman

National Affairs Rory Leishman

Salem, Mass., will remain forever notorious as the place where, in 1692, more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft, 30 were found guilty and 19 (14 women and five men) were executed by hanging before Massachusetts Governor William Phips terminated this travesty of justice.

Today, we look back on the Salem witch trials with amazement and many of us assume that such mass hysteria could not happen today. But that is not true. In The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, Douglas Murray cites several examples of mass delusional thinking that have arisen in recent decades, including fantastical conceptions of transsexualism.

Murray observes that back in the 1960s and 1970s when experiments with sex-reassignment surgery were just beginning, many physicians wondered how a patient asking for the procedure could be distinguished, as he puts it, “from a patient telling a doctor that they believed themselves to be Admiral Nelson and in pursuit of this belief wanted their right arm removed? Could somebody wanting their penis removed be any more sane?”

That was, and remains, a good question. Yet in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association removed gender identity disorder from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Not all psychiatrists agree with that decision. Prominent among the dissenters is Dr. Paul McHugh, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. In Try to Remember: Psychiatry’s Clash Over Meaning, Memory and Mind, McHugh confessed that he has often asked: “What’s wrong with psychiatry? I ask it,” he explained, “having repeatedly witnessed how faddish misdirections of thought and therapeutic practice sweep across the field to dominate opinion and action for years, only to sink from favor and fade away, leaving wounded patients and public scorn in their wake.”

Among these faddish misdirections of psychiatric thought, McHugh includes sex-reassignment surgery. While stressing that transsexuals deserve compassionate psychiatric care, he laments that by fostering sex-reassignment surgery, we psychiatrists “have wasted scientific and technical resources, damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.”

The political correct view of transsexualism is grounded in the bizarre notion that a man who thinks he is a woman is a woman, and vice versa. Yet mere thinking cannot make it so. And neither can any amount of cross-hormone treatments and sex-reassignment surgeries change the sex of a patient.

Dr. Jen Wagner-Assali, a champion cyclist and orthopedic surgeon from Houston, Texas, is acutely aware of these physiological facts. In 2018, she came in third in a race for women at the Masters Track Cycling World Championships. The winner, Rachel McKinnon, is a male-to-female transsexual who now prefers to be known as Veronica Ivy.

In a twitter exchange following the race, Wagner-Assali complained that it was “definitely not fair” that McKinnon won. As Wagner-Assali well knows, male-to-female transsexuals retain a decisive superiority in average muscle mass over biological women. Regardless, for daring to speak out as she did, Wagner-Assali has been widely defamed as a hate-mongering transphobe.

However, Wagner-Assali has also got considerable support from both men and women. Among her more remarkable backers is Debbie Hayton, a prominent British male-to-female transsexual. In a column entitled “We trans women should compete only against men,” published in The Times of London on Sept. 3, 2019, Hayton derided the slogan “We trans women are women” as “vacuous rhetoric that has led us away from truth and into a land of make-believe. … Whatever female hormones trans women might take, we are still on average taller, faster and stronger than women.”

On this basis, Hayton concluded: “We trans women should compete against men in open competition. We can campaign for separate facilities to protect our dignity, but let’s leave female sport to female people.”

During the Salem witch trials, Governor Phipps took just a few weeks to come to his senses and stop the tragedy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has had several years to contemplate cross-hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery, but has he shown any concern about the dire risks posed by these unproven treatments for vulnerable young Canadians?

Not at all. Trudeau and his fellow Liberals are now pressing Parliament to adopt Bill C-8, legislation that would make it a criminal offence for the parents of a gender-confused child to consult a psychiatrist like McHugh for help in enabling their child to identify comfortably with his or her sex.

As justification for this pernicious law, the preface to Bill C-8 alleges that psychiatric treatment for gender identity disorder “is based on the myth that a person’s gender identity can and ought to be changed.” That is complete nonsense. It is a well-established scientific fact that approximately 80 per cent of children who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria end up becoming comfortable with their biological sex at some point during adolescence.

Sometimes these days it seems that we Canadians are living in a madhouse.