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Thursday 29 June 2017

A Nasty Case of Transphobic Ventriloquism

Posted in: Our Communities
By Craig Young - 15th May 2017

Family First is misbehaving on the transgender rights front again, as its derivative, copycat, orchestrated anti-transgender school campaign stalls and splutters. What do the New Zealand Christian Right's core transphobes have to say this time? Nothing original, or even new.

The lobby group wheeled out fundamentalist Pentecostal Walt Heyer yet again. Heyer is allegedly an 'ex-transgender' person. According to the TransChristians website, Heyer underwent gender reassignment because of misdiagnosis and may actually have the rare dissociation identity disorder condition. He has made the erroneous claim that "all psychologists who support transgender rights" are transgender themselves, which is untrue. Nor are they simply 'pursuing their own 'agenda' on this issue. Gender dysphoria is a bona fide mental health condition, which can be treated through social transitioning, hormone treatment and reassignment surgery, psychotherapy and counseling. The veracity of this diagnostic category is upheld by the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Psychiatric Association and American Public Health Association. Frankly, I'd far rather trust them than Christian Right activists like Heyer or McCoskrie, who lack relevant professional expertise in matters medical, pediatric or psychological, or the pre-scientific, pre-modern twelfth century 'natural law' dogma of St Thomas Aquinas, Augustine and Aristotle.

As for the American Academy of Pediatrics, subject to much petulant foot stamping from Bob McCoskrie in one recent bizarre outburst about school crossing, once again, it is important to note that this gentleman's qualifications are in accountancy and tax policy, not pediatrics or developmental psychology. Moreover, the American Academy of Pediatrics has 60,000 members, runs the professional, peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics, and came to its current position on transgender youth health and safety due to numerous evidence-based disciplinary studies conducted by its members. McCoskrie can cite the tiny, two hundred member American College of Pediatricians religious social conservative group all he wants. It does not conduct peer reviewed replicate research of its own or have its own professional journal. Its sole reason for existence appears to be to give a spurious pseudo-legitimacy to Christian Right propaganda and political strategy for religious social conservatives or those unaware of its true ideological bias.

Lastly, there is the coalition of religious social conservative women and ant-transgender 'trans-exclusive radical feminists' known as Hands Across the Aisle. "Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists" adopt a particular philosophical position on transgender issues that is an inversion of conservative Catholic natural law theory which posits fixed biological sex and rather than denoting female gender and sex as 'inferior' as conservative Catholic natural law theory does, it instead valorises an essentialist concept of female sex and gender. Unfortunately, some strands of radical feminism tend to display disappointing strategic naivety when it comes to issues like sex work, adult erotic entertainment media and transgender rights. Given the strong presence of Catholic clergy pedophilia and rape among conservative Catholics, child sexual abuse, domestic violence and spousal rape within fundamentalist families and other wretchedly patriarchal attributes, more inclusive radical feminists, socialist feminists and liberal feminists question TERF transphobia and the questionable ethics of such outright collaboration with the Christian Right at a time when abortion rights are under severe attack within the United States and elsewhere from precisely this quarter. In any case, it isn't the first time McCoskrie has referred to this tiny pressure group. And for that matter, they do not speak for all feminists- witness Canadian lesbian feminist Brenda Cossman's defence of transgender rights and Canada's Bill C-16.

No doubt McCoskrie's latest spate of transphobic venom had something to do with the fact he believes that Gaynz.Com intends to rest its laurels when it comes to defending transgender rights. Far from it. But why is he repeating himself so often these days? Does he really have that little to say that isn't a ventriloquist dummy act from his US Christian Right propaganda suppliers on the issue of transgender rights? Apparently not.

And, inevitably, when the subject of New Zealand's influx of overseas same-sex marriage aspirant couples came up, McCoskrie gibbered that the fact that half of those who used our marriage equality legislation were overseas couples somehow invalidated the legislation. Which, remember, Family First lost by a hefty77-44margin at the third reading of the Marriage Amendment Bill back in 2013. Talk about sour grapes. I imagine that there are small religious and ethnic minorities whose proportion of marriages are smaller the number of total LGBT marriages, but is McCoskrie saying that their small proportions mean that they should somehow be excluded from wedded bliss? No.

Family First's anti-transgender obsession continues at the annual Family First Forum on the Family. The event will be held on July 24 2017 at the LIFE South Conference Centre, 3 Lakewood Drive, Manukau City on July 7, 2017. Dr Muriel Newman and Australian fundamentalist Baptist anti-pornography activist Melinda Tankard Reist will be two of the guest speakers. The third will be Dr John Whitehall, talking about "The Phenomenon of Childhood Gender Dysphoria." Whitehall is the Foundation Chair and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Western Sydney. He has been invited to the New Zealand Christian Right's networking event because he contributed two articles questioning childhood gender dysphoria to Australia's right wing Quadrant magazine in December 2016 and May 2017. Accordingly, I decided to investigate these two articles. It is interesting that Dr Whitehall wrote them in a right-wing Australian magazine, rather than in an Australian or overseas medical journal, isn't it? But then, medical journals are peer reviewed and peer review involves critical analysis by one's professional peers of claims made within research articles. To be sure, one of the articles that Dr Whitehall wrote forQuadrantdid have copious footnotes and extensively cited clinical journals within its argument. However, Dr Whitehall seems to support the concept of 'reparative therapy' to try to brainwash LGBT adolescents out of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the context of that article, which has negligible provenance within mainstream medical organisations within most of the western world. In Canada's C-16 gender identity antidiscrimination bill debate, the article has been cited by anti-transgender activists such as Dr Jordan Petersen (University of Toronto) and the Christian Right's Association for Reformed Political Action, as well as Australian Christian Right Dr David Van Gend, an opponent of abortion rights and marriage equality, and Christian Right lay activist Bill Muehlenberg. The Law and Religion Australia blog has also covered it. I'm curious, though. Again, why did Dr Whitehall contribute this to Quadrant and not an Australian medical journal? For the reasons above? And shouldn't he make it clear that he has never had a transgender client during all his years of practice?

This is the last time I'll write about the New Zealand Christian Right for Gaynz.Com. Hope you enjoyed the ride.


Wikipedia/American Academy of Pediatrics: American_Academy_of_Pediatrics

Wikipedia/American College of Pediatricians:American College of Pediatricians

Brenda Cossman: "Bill C-16: No, it's not about Criminalising Pronoun Use" Mark Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies (University of Toronto):http://sds.utoronto. ca/blog/bill-c-16-no-its-not- about-criminalizing-pronoun- misuse/

"New Zealand proves popular as same-sex marriage destination" TVNZ News: 03.05.2017:NZ proves popular as same-sex marriage destination

Not Recommended:

"At What Stage Can Kids Safely Cross the Street?"Family First:01.05.2017:https://www. what-age-can-kids-safely- cross-the-street/

"New Zealand proves popular as same-sex marriage destination" Family First: 05.05.2017:https://www. proves-popular-as-same-sex- marriage-destination/

New Zealand Forum on the Family (7 July 2017):https://www.

Dr John Whitehead: "Gender Dysphoria and Surgical Abuse" Quadrant (December 2016): au/magazine/2016/12/gender- dysphoria-child-surgical- abuse/

Craig Young - 15th May 2017

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