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Paul McHugh

Paul McHugh is someone I'd eventually like to know more about. He worked at John Hopkins in the earliest years of their gender clinic alongside the infamous John Money and spent decades trying to close the clinic, eventually succeeding. More recently, he has become the Vatican's authority on sex topics, being influential in their recent statement on transexualism. He also broke state law by concealing acts of pedophilia from police.

McHugh is well known helping close the SRS clinic at John Hopkins in the 1970s and explaining his reasoning in a pop-science article Surgical Sex in 2004. Surgical Sex is widely circulated among gender defenders such as Help4Familie to bolster their claim that SRS for transexuals is not wise from a scientific perspective. The main fallacy is that McHugh's research, as he states, concluded that SRS had no visible effects on clients and "only a few regret it." That's a far cry from SRS ruining post-ops' lives, as gender defenders claim. McHugh opposes SRS in transexuals because, he says, he has no effect on them. 

There are glaring scientific problems with Surgical Sex as well. Obvious even to amateurs is that McHugh equates the SRS of transexuals with the SRS of intersex infant males with ambiguous genitals. He specifically used a study by Dr. William Reiner on infants with cloacal exstrophy where the gender identity was estimated to be male That is, previous infants with cloacal exstrophy always grew up to identify as male. Assigning these infants into a girls-assigned life, the clients soon revolted as children and insisted they were boys. Needless to say, these were extremely bad outcomes and the children should have been raised as boys even with abnormal genitalis. McHugh throws the baby out with the bathwater, concluding that because SRS was bad for this one group, SRS is bad for all groups. However, the study, as the David Reimer qualitative study before it, only further demonstrates that gender identity is primarily, if not exclusively, Nature and not Nurture. Reiner, who performed the original study, concluded, "The sense of who one is--[boy or girl]--is powerful and inborn." How does that square with the pro-binary belief of reparative therapy that trans people can and should convert their gender identity into their assigned gender? It doesn't.

Links

Surgical Sex - His well circulated written opinion on SRS and a response

Paul McHugh Defames Transsexual Women - Lynn Conway's analysis

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