I have for a long time objected to the superficial propaganda word “homophobe” which implies those who believe homosexual practice is wrong are afraid of homosexuals. But now we have the equally superficial propaganda word “transphobe” to describe those who have genuine concerns about aspects of the promotion of transexualism.
It is important to keep a sense of proportion about the number of homosexual, bisexual and transgender people. The Office for National Statistics discovered that 1.1% of people say they are homosexual or lesbian and 0.4% say they are bisexual. The Equality and Human Rights Commission research found that 1.3% of British people are in some way transgender or gender variant. In the US the Williams Institute found in 2011 that 0.3% of the population are transgender. Yet, the dominance of concern for the rights of transgender people as of homosexual people, seems to be seriously out of proportion.
Nevertheless, the fact these groups are a tiny minority of the population does not mean that their needs are unimportant. For example, in 2014 a survey showed that 48% of transgender people under 26 had attempted suicide compared with 6% of all 16-24 year olds. They can face discrimination, bullying and violence.
However, the cause of transsexualism is well-advanced. Justine Greening, UK Minister of State for Education has been criticised for appearing to believe that whether you are a man or a woman is merely a feeling, an inner essence, which transcends biology. Transgender men have given birth to babies in the UK and the US. Senior NHS doctors have said that male transsexuals should be given womb transplants so they can have children. The Scottish government are considering allowing people to identify as neither male nor female in the next census. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn thinks people should be able to self-identify their gender. The World Health Organisation has removed a page from its website which outlined the biological differences between men and women.
“Transgenderism is a mental disorder”
One serious area of concern is the way that the issue of transgender people is becoming very dominant in our schools.
Dr Joanna Williams, Senior Lecturer in Higher Education at the University of Kent warns: “In doing more than just supporting transgender children, and instead sowing confusion about gender identity, schools do neither boys nor girls any favours.” If a child is genuinely transgender then, of course, that child needs careful support. But the overemphasis on the problem raises serious concerns for the welfare of children.
Dr Paul McHugh, Professor of Psychiatry at John Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore, Maryland, states that transgenderism is a mental disorder. He says it has two aspects: “The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.” He continues “The transgendered suffer a disorder of ‘assumption’ like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists” such as “anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight. With body dysmorphic disorder, an often socially crippling condition, the individual is consumed by the assumption ‘I’m ugly.’”
He pointed out that “When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings.” He added that John Hopkins University was the first American medical centre to carry out “sex-reassignment surgery” – in the 1960s. Then in the 1970s it carried out a study “comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as ‘satisfied’ by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a ‘satisfied’ but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.”
More significant, research carried out by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden in 2011 “revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.”
He concludes: “‘Sex change’ is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.”
Understandably, Dr McHugh is strongly criticised by the transgender lobby. He laments the fact that several America states have passed laws barring psychiatrists, even with parental permission, from striving to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor.
We should support an understanding approach to the very small percentage of people struggling with their sexuality and disapprove of them being “persecuted.” But there are real dangers in the approach of the very dominant transgender lobby. It seems clear that people, especially children, can be seriously harmed by that approach.
The important moral issue raised by abortion is when the embryo becomes fully human. I remain thoroughly unconvinced that an embryo suddenly becomes human at some stage after conception. I’ve not come across convincing evidence for this and I first addressed the issue publicly in 1980.
Of course, the lesser of two evils argument is relevant. So, for example, if an abortion would save a mother’s life it would be morally justified. But the 1967 Abortion Act has opened the floodgates to virtually abortion on demand up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Now there is a strong feeling – expressed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists – that abortion should no longer be subject to legal sanctions. That would effectively open the way to abortion at any stage in pregnancy.
It is interesting that almost two-thirds of British people interviewed for a recent ComRes survey said the upper limit for abortion should be lowered from the current 24 weeks to 20 weeks – with a fifth saying it should be reduced to 12 weeks.
Abortion is legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy but recently a baby was born at 17 weeks, weighing just 1lb 1oz and 11 inches long, and survived. A baby’s heart and nervous system are forming at 5 weeks of pregnancy. At 6 weeks, sometimes the heart can be seen beating. At seven weeks the brain is growing rapidly. It is convenient to regard the embryo as a blob of jelly but at an early stage it looks remarkably human.
In the UK some 9 million babies have been aborted since 1967, and about 200,000 per annum currently. Most people tend not to think about it but, unless we are sure those babies were not fully human, that is an extremely serious issue. If they were fully human (even though tiny and out of sight) that would be mass killing.
Some people have been ridiculed for saying that same sex marriage and related liberal sexual attitudes would result in practices such as polygamy or group marriage. But three men (a “throuple”) were ‘married’ this year in Colombia. They have received legal support although not a full marriage certificate.
Hadar Aviram, Professor of Law at the University of California, said of group marriage “The movement is absolutely going to develop if the activists so choose.” She said she found little appetite for marriage among polyamorous groups when she first started her research in 2004 but she began to see a change around 2012. She added: “Perhaps in the 1970s, same-sex marriage was as unimaginable as group marriage is today.”
Development such as this are all part of an attack on marriage and the family which will lead to chaos and serious harm to individuals.
The British divorce rate is the lowest for 45 years. In 2015 101,055 couples divorced, the lowest number since 1971. The number of couples divorcing fell by over a third between 2003 and 2015 and by 9.1% between 2014 and 2015, the biggest drop in more than 40 years.
However the major cause for this is that fewer couples marry. The number of couples cohabiting more than doubled
from 1.5 million to 3.3 million between 1996 and 2016. The problem is that cohabitation is less secure than marriage.
Harry Benson, of the Marriage Foundation, said Britain “continues to lead the developed world in family instability.” He added “Cohabiting parents now account for one in five parents yet more than half of all family breakdown. The stability that marriage brings protects couples against splitting up, protects health and well-being, and supports children’s education.”
Baroness Hale, the new President of the Supreme Court has long been calling for the introduction of no-fault divorce. This would allow marriages to be ended quickly without fault, and without the consent of one spouse. However on average over 10,000 divorces are dropped every year in England and Wales. No fault divorce would mean that many more marriages would be irretrievably ended.
The production of designer babies is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Professor Hank Greely, the director of Stanford’s Law School’s Center for Law and the Biosciences, believes that within 30 years parents will be choosing from a range of embryos created in a lab with their DNA. It can already take place but is very expensive.
Human Genetics Alert (HGA) is a secular group (which, incidentally, supports abortion rights) which warns of the dangers of genetic manipulation, sex-selective abortion, and the use of hybrid embryos for research. (A hybrid embryo is created artificially by combining human and animal DNA, in various proportions, for the purposes of medical research). It has called on the British Government not to legalise human genetic manipulation techniques for fear that it would “eventually lead to a eugenic designer baby market.” They are not against genetic research but point out that it could lead to genetic discrimination (discrimination based on a person’s genetic make-up) and cloning (producing genetically identical individuals). They also warn of a possible resurgence of eugenics (although accept some danger of hysteria on the subject). Eugenics is the attempt to improve the human species by discouraging reproduction by people with genetic defects or undesirable traits and encouraging reproduction by people with desirable traits. The “three-parent IVF technique” has already been approved and used in the UK.
Jennifer Doudna is Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Moelcular Biology at The University of California. She pioneered CRISPR-Cas9, a technology that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence. However she has said: “I have to admit that I feel personally uncomfortable with the idea that there could eventually be factories pumping out lots of human embryos for the purposes of experimentation. I can’t put my finger on why but it feels like it cheapens something about human life.” It keeps her awake at night.
We live in a society where unborn human beings can be deliberately killed and where there are real dangers of the production of designer babies. Also marriage is being increasingly undermined which damages the family. Then there are serious dangers associated with the new ‘orthodoxy’ of transsexualism, which are not being taken seriously. The potential damage, including to children, is very serious.