Friday, September 01, 2006

NARTH Backs Down

NARTH (the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) Scientific Advisory Committee member Joseph Berger had a blog post this week that raised more than a few eyebrows. He argued that schoolyard bullying is an effective technique for keeping transgender boys in line. He said:
The notion that a person is really someone of the opposite sex “trapped in the wrong body” is poetic stupidity. It doesn’t exist in reality. A person wishing to change their external manifestations to appear to be a person of the opposite sex is someone very unhappy with being their “real” sex and/or believing in some idealized fantasy of how much better it is to be of the opposite sex.

We don’t treat distorted fantasies with mutilating surgery.

Here in cold Canada, I often talk with mothers of small children who routinely complain about how difficult it is to get their children dressed in the winter in the multiple layers of clothing they need to go off to school. I suggest to them that they make it clear to their children that they will leave home — or that the school bus will come — at such-and-such time, and they will go whether they are ready or not. I suggest that going just one day in their pajamas or underwear will be enough to “cure” them of their procrastination.

I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex — but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.

On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.

It is a mistake for various interfering, ignorant, and biased busybodies to try to “counsel” the other children into accepting the abnormal. It is very healthy to be able to draw the line between what is healthy and what is sick.

...and so on. I'd link to the blog post, but ... guess what. It's gone now, but lives on in the Google cache.

NARTH even went so far as to issue this statement:
Entry pulled on "gender variant" children

We have pulled the discussion on gender variant children in Oakland. The article contained comments that were deemed offensive to many readers and failed to accurately express the overall views of the physician who expressed them.

We apologize for publishing the article without getting proper clarifications first about how children with gender identity disorders should be treated by parents, teachers, and counselors.

NARTH President Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D. has issued the following statement related to gender variant children and remarks made by Dr. Joseph Berger:

"NARTH disagrees with Dr. Berger's advice as we believe shaming, as distinct from correcting, can only create greater harm. Too many of our clients experienced the often life-long, harmful effects of peer shaming. We cannot encourage this."

Uh, yeah, first they try to make it sound like that wasn't really what he meant. But we can read, he was very clear. He was advocating "peer shaming" as a way to control children with unusual sexual identities.

At least NARTH figured out this was a bad PR move. It's a little hard to find anybody (outside of NARTH) who actually advocates bullying, and I don't think they quite wanted to put themselves right on the bulls-eye like that.

NARTH exists to try to "cure" homosexuality. This psychiatrist Berger doesn't believe it's innate, he has said that all that talk is a "gay-activist political position" and a bunch of hooey.

Generally, a social group enforces its norms effectively. You do something weird and you're embarrassed if people find out -- sometimes they laugh at you or say something, but most of the time it's enough just to know they know. Or to know they might know. This kind of social control is extremely powerful, conformity is an incredible force in a group.

So here's a little boy who likes to dress like a girl. The social group reacts to this ... to put it mildly. The other boys are going to give this kid a tough time. For Berger, that's all a good thing, they should humiliate him until he conforms, that's how the world goes round.

I remember standing in line for something when my kids were in Catholic school, maybe sixth or seventh grade. Parents and kids had to wait for a bus, or to buy tickets, or something, I can't remember what, but a boy up in front of us, I'll call him Billy though that's not his name, was a kid with an idiosyncratic sexual identity. He played with the girls, he was kind of pretty, he wiggled when he walked. He was extremely kind and good-hearted, what you'd have to call a "sweet" kid.

And the other kids in line were brutal to him. They stood there saying "Billy's queer, Billy's queer," and poking him and bumping into him; it was a constant stream of heckling. He just looked at them, with a kind of distant look of saintliness, as their words bounced off him. Somehow he was able to take it, day after day; it didn't fluster him outwardly and it didn't make him try to be like the other boys.

Can you imagine the courage it takes to be that kid?

I can't quite congratulate NARTH for their good judgment in taking the blog post down. The article described a heinous attitude. It's bad enough that they think that way, they don't get any points for backing down when they realize that people won't put up with it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oddly it is the same attitude used by the gay rights groups to attract their critiques. Funny how it is only bad when your side is the recipient of this behavior.

September 02, 2006 10:52 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home