Researchers Kenneth J. Zucker and Susan J. Bradley are names that every gay man and lesbian woman should know, especially if they were treated to become “straight” at a camp or a ex-gay affirming psychologist’s office — but almost no one knows who Zucker and Bradley are.
The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH) quotes Zucker and Bradley often in defense of treating children diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) — described as a “pre-homosexual condition” by Joseph Nicolosi in his book A Parents Guide To Preventing Homosexuality. (Update – See Further Reading‘s GID Reform Advocates: DSM-IV-TR: Gender Identity Disorder in Children, 302.6 for how the Childhood GID applies to LGB people.)
In Gene Chase’s review of Zucker & Bradley’s Gender Identity Disorder and Psychosexual Problems in Children and Adolescents, Chase states of Zucker and Bradley:
They are specialists in Gender Identity Disorder (GID), which is the last vestige of the characterization of homosexuality as a disorder in the old APA DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual].
Recall that GID is the feeling of conflict in one’s gender. It is not being transsexual (ts), since no biology is a part of the diagnosis. It is not being transgendered (tg) alone, since that may not be conflicting. It is not cross-dressing, since that is a behavior not a feeling.
Here’s what has been said about Zucker and Bradley’s work, some of it in their own words:
Reviewing their book Gender Identity Disorder and Psychosexual Problems in Children and Adolescents, an unidentified writer at NARTH writes:
Zucker and Bradley recognize a very important point missed by most gay activists–that homosexual attractions in adolescence may represent nothing more than transitory idealization of same-sex individuals, rather than a deep-seated sexual orientation. Their goal is to help the client find his “real”–i.e., most deep-seated on a feeling and fantasy level–sexual orientation.
One important question remains in this book: can treatment of the gender-disturbed child prevent future homosexuality? Although there are “no formal empirical studies demonstrating that therapeutic intervention in childhood alters the developmental path toward either transsexualism or homosexuality,” nevertheless Zucker and Bradley maintain a cautious optimism, saying there is some “indirect support” for the efficacy of treatment.
They discuss the success rate of therapy with children, as reported by Rekers. Rekers says that follow-up results of over 50 gender-disturbed children suggest permanent changes in gender identity, and he believes that a preventive treatment for “transvestism, transsexualism, and some forms of homosexuality has indeed been isolated,” although Zucker and Bradley express mild skepticism due to the lack of formal substantiation of this conclusion. . .
. . .Zucker and Bradley conclude: “It has been our experience that a sizable number of children and their families achieve a great deal of change. In these cases, the GID resolves fully, and nothing in the children’s behavior or fantasy suggest that gender-identity issues remain problematic…All things considered, we take the position that in such cases a clinician should be optimistic, not nihilistic, about the possibility of helping the children to become more secure in their gender identity.”
Quoting Richard Green, Zucker and Bradley say in their book Gender Identity Disorder and Psychosexual Problems in Children and Adolescents:
“The rights of parents to oversee the development of children is a long-established principle. Who is to dictate that parents may not try to raise their children in a manner that maximizes the possibility of a heterosexual outcome? If that prerogative is denied, should parents also be denied the right to raise their children as atheists? Or as priests?”
Dr. Zucker admits that there are complex social and ethical issues surrounding the politics of sex and gender in postmodern Western culture. He note that the “most acute ethical issue may concern the relation between GID and a later homosexual sexual orientation. Follow-up studies of boys who have GID that largely is untreated, indicated that homosexuality is the most common long-term psychosexual outcome.”
Zucker says that clinicians have an ethical obligation to inform parents of the relationship between GID and homosexuality. Clinical experience suggests that psychosexual treatments are effective in reducing gender dysphoria and that individual counseling and parental counseling are both effective methods of treating GID.
In the article Boys Will Be Girls, transsexuals protested Zucker and Bradley; specifically an award being given to Bradley. Excerpt:
On the morning of Mar 29 a group of trans activists crashed a celebration honouring Susan Bradley, the founder of the Child And Adolescent Gender Identity Clinic at Toronto’s Centre For Addiction And Mental Health (CAMH).
The featured speaker of the event was Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist and current head of the gender identity clinic.
If ex-ex-gays and lesbians knew more about Zucker and Bradley, my guess would be that they would have been there too in some numbers.
Frank York for NARTH: How Should Clinicians Deal With GID In Children?
GID Reform Advocates: DSM-IV-TR: Gender Identity Disorder in Children, 302.6
Special thanks to Pam Ferguson for her assistance with this article.