Doctors at the esteemed institution are perpetuating dangerous myths about transgender people — and the university is not doing enough to stop them.
The name Johns Hopkins University connotes an institute of higher learning in medicine to most people. For those paying attention, it represents one of the most unapologetically transphobic institutions in America. JHU professors have headlined conferences on reparative therapy, cozied up with many Southern Poverty Law Center-certified hate groups, and taken money from the government to argue in court that transgender people don’t need medical care.
Administration has allowed staff members at JHU to ignore standards of care, reject evidence based medicine, and skip over guidelines of their professional organizations as long as the transgender community is at the receiving end of such malpractice.
Just prior to an October gathering of the World Congress of Families (which is an SPLC-certified hate group), a radio station in Utah held a pre-conference event called STAND4TRUTH 2015, sponsored by the Family Research Council (another hate group), American Family Association (another hate group), and MassResistance (yet another hate group). Their speakers included some of the most radical anti-LGBT leaders from these groups such as Peter Sprigg, Peter LaBarbera, Michael Brown, Dave Welch, Matt Staver, and Brian Camenker.
And then there was Dr. Paul McHugh of JHU, prominently displaying his JHU credentials in support of reparative therapy and anti-LGBT animus.
When I contacted JHU regarding Dr. McHugh’s participation in this conference, the university informed me he had “declined the invitation” and that “Johns Hopkins Medicine lives by its mission and its vision and embraces diversity and inclusion.”
However, when I spoke with the STAND4TRUTH 2015 organizers, they informed me that McHugh was in town for the event but missed his panel because he set his alarm to the wrong time. They also claimed he came to the conference after his panel. STAND4TRUTH organizers deny that McHugh declined their invitation. Wherever the actual truth lies, however, the conference’s brochure suggests he had said yes at some point.
Dr. McHugh has a lot in common with these right-wing, religiously -motivated hate groups. He is a self-described orthodox Catholic whose radical views are well documented. In his role as part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ review board, he pushed the idea that the Catholic sex-abuse scandal was not about pedophilia but about “homosexual predation on American Catholic youth.” He filed an amicus brief arguing in favor of Proposition 8 on the basis that homosexuality is a “choice.” Additionally, McHugh was in favor of forcing a pregnant 10-year-old girl to carry to term even though she had been raped by an adult relative.
His words and actions toward the transgender community are the most radical and egregious, however. He has compared medical care for transgender people to “the practice of frontal lobotomy.” McHugh’s disdain for his own patients is evident, calling them “caricatures of women” and pushing the demeaning narrative that all transgender women are either self-hating gay men or perverted heterosexuals. Worse, the damage McHugh has done to transgender health care is incalculable. McHugh shut down one of the few gender clinics in the U.S. in 1979, and his lobbying in 1981 was instrumental in getting a national coverage decision forbidding the government from covering gender-affirming care. It wasn’t reversed until 2014. As a result of his outspoken desire to see transgender people shoved back into the closet, Dr. McHugh has become the go-to “expert” for right-wing organizations.
While Johns Hopkins claims “respect for patients’ backgrounds and beliefs” is vital in its Diversity and Inclusion Mission Statement, the actions of staff members and administration should make it clear that these are just words where transgender patients are concerned. When other JHU staff members have made controversial and public anti-LGB statements, the organization has been quick to put space between themselves and the positions of their staff. Dr. Ben Carson (also of JHU, also of bizarre and offensive beliefs about lesbians and gays) went a step too far by comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality and the North American Man/Boy Love Association. Johns Hopkins University publicly distanced itself from him as a result.
“Controversial social issues are debated in the media on a regular basis, and yet it is rare that leaders of an academic medical center will join that type of public debate,” said Dr. Paul Rothman, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, in a statement in April. “However, we recognize that tension now exists in our community because hurtful, offensive language was used by our colleague, Dr. Ben Carson, when conveying a personal opinion. Dr. Carson’s comments are inconsistent with the culture of our institution.”
Continue reading at: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/12/15/scary-science-johns-hopkins-university