Saturday 6 June 2015

Ignorance and arrogance harms people – A response to the “Public Catholic” blog

Heya everybody,

I have to put more new studies on, but I found a link to an article called Trans … What Did You Say? Trendy Medical Malpractice on the Mentally Ill on the well-known Patheos blog platform in my inbox that needed a reply first. The article is pretty disgusting, linking gender dysphoria to all kinds of rare and extreme illnesses, a relatively modern version of equating gender-dysphoric people to people who think they are Napoleon or a rabbit. I don’t want to discuss these comparisons here, I just want to highlight one specific point.

The author, Rebecca Hamilton, asserts firmly that hormonal and surgical treatment for transsexuals is an outrageous medical malpractice, surgical mutilation, dismemberment, disfigurement, cruel, destructive, life-long hormone abuse. I wish she told us how she really feels instead of beating around the bush like this! :)

However, what’s relevant for the point I want to make is that she’s absolutely sure hormonal and surgical treatment for transsexuals is wrong:

It is wrong; it is flat-out wrong, to support the surgical mutilation, dismemberment and disfigurement of healthy people for the purposes of pretending that this is a ‘treatment’ for their illness. I cannot and I will not support something so cruel and destructive to the person as this.

I just can’t my head around the logic behind this. In reality, where most of us live, things are so simple:

  1. People suffer

  2. Our goal should be to make people suffer less

  3. We try different interventions, and see how effective they are

  4. We apply the most effective intervention, and keep perfecting it, while looking for better interventions

And that’s really all you need to understand. How hard can it possibly be?

People with gender dysphoria suffer. We can measure this objectively, by asking them, by rating their quality of life, by looking at their suicide rates, by looking at their social adjustment, etc. We can try different treatments on these people, and then measure their quality of life again. Then we know which treatments work and which don’t. That’s it. That’s really it. How can anybody argue against this process?

If you have no heart, and no empathy, and you can’t figure why society should help people who suffer, you even can put monetary values on things. A healthy, well adjusted person contributes +X euros to society, a poorly adjusted person costs society −Y euros. A specific treatment costs −Z euros, and increases the societal contribution of the treated person to some figure between –Y and +X.[1]

I’m not sure how to put it more clearly. All that transsexual individuals are asking for is that we look at how the suffering caused by gender dysphoria can be relieved. I don’t think that anybody is fixated on a specific cure, all we should do is go where the evidence leads us. And overwhelming evidence shows that hormones and surgery can help. Other things that help greatly are the reduction of discrimination, hate, bullying and more tolerance and acceptance.

Oh, before I end this post – pro tip for Rebecca Hamilton: One such step towards a more charitable society would be to stop calling people mentally ill without having sufficient evidence.

[1] I know that in a world with limited resources, we have to make cost/benefit analyses to base decisions on. The polemic at the beginning of this paragraph is reserved for people who are unable to see that helping distressed people is a good thing in its own right.

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