The National Association For Research And Therapy Of Homosexuality (NARTH) is again commenting on transgender issues, although their mission, vision, and previous leadership statements have indicated that their focus has “nothing to do with any social issue other than same-sex attraction.”
NARTH recently posted an article on their website entitled NYU Students Find Accepting Campus For Transsexuals. In the article, Christopher Rosik, Ph.D. (a member of the NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee) is quoted:
While transgendered students are clearly in need of our compassion, I suspect that simply affirming their disjuncted gender identity does them a disservice. A preferable first response would be to determine if any help can be provided to lessen the disjunction for these individuals.
Follow up studies of transsexuals have suggested that, while interventions such as sex change surgery reduced distress due to the perceived gender incongruity, their relational, vocational and emotional difficulties continued unabated. The collusion of NYU officials with these students’ psychological reality to the apparent exclusion of encouraging them to seek help is therefore ill advised.
The gist of Rosik’s message seems to be that he doesn’t believe New York University should be trans-affirmative. Since a significant number of post-operative transsexuals still have employment, relationship, and emotional problems, Rosik believes the goal of treatment shouldn’t be to affirm a transgender person’s gender identity, but rather to affirm that their gender be joined or rejoined to their natal sex. Rosik doesn’t clarify whether or not he believes joining or rejoining gender to natal sex would then, by itself, solve all of these individuals other employment, relationship, and emotional problems.
Beyond treatment, he appears to be implying that no government or private agency should recognize a person as transgender — again, because a significant number of post-operative transsexuals still have employment, relationship, and emotional problems after sex reassignment surgery.
He also appears to be implying that if transgender people seek assistance that isn’t help joining or rejoining one’s gender identity to one’s natal sex, and then these transgender people aren’t actually seeking help.
What Rosik is proposing is outside of mainstream medical thought. He wants NYU, and other public and private entities to adopt his minority medical opinion as policy instead of the Harry Benjamin Standards Of Care. The mainstream medical opinion indicates public and private entities’ trans-affirmative treatments/policies are appropriate for transgender people.
If Rosik and NARTH were actually interested in changing NYU policy on transgender people — or affecting public policy in general regarding transgender people — they would work within the system (i.e. American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, etc.) to change the standards of care for transgender people to non-trans-affirmative.
Or, an alternate strategy might also be found in NARTH adding transgender issues to their mission/vision statement, and then developing an alternate standard of care to rival the Harry Benjamin Standards Of Care. Then, they could argue to public and private entities that their standards of care are the ones that should be adopted as mainstream medical thought, and should be utilized for developing public policy instead of the Harry Benjamin Standards Of Care.
My suspicion is; however, that Rosik is merely voicing his opposition opinion regarding trans-affirmative public policies, and that’s as far as he and NARTH will go. He and NARTH likely have no intent to do anything about trans-affirmative public policies except to provide quotes for the future use of ex-gay and ex-transgender affirming organizations as to why trans-affirmative public policies are the “wrong” policies. Basically, NARTH doesn’t appear to have sufficient transgender mission identification or alternative documentation to offer real, actionable alternatives to the trans-affirmative public policies that NARTH (via Rosik) objects to.
Of course, why would the lack of a transgender issue mission identification statement or alternative documentation preclude either Rosik or NARTH commenting on transgender issues in the future? The lack of these haven’t stopped them previously — I doubt the lack of a transgender issue mission identification statement or alternative documentation will stop them in the future.
David Roberts contributed to this article.