Psychiatry Goes PC
A reader who is a psychiatrist e-mailed last week to share with me her thoughts about The Benedict Option.
This part of the chapter on the workplace spoke to her:
It will be impossible in most places to get licenses to work without affirming sexual diversity dogma. For example, in 2016 the American Bar Association voted to add an “anti-harassment” rule to its Model Code of Conduct, one that if adopted by state bars would make it simply discussing issues having to do with homosexuality (among other things) impossible without risking professional sanction—unless one takes the progressive side of the argument.
Along those lines, it will be very difficult to have open dialogue in many workplaces without putting oneself in danger. One Christian professor on a secular university’s science faculty declined to answer a question I had about the biology of homosexuality, out of fear that anything he said, no matter how innocuous and fact-based, could get him brought up on charges within his university, as well as attacked by social media mobs. Everyone working for a major corporation will be frog-marched through “diversity and inclusion” training and will face pressure not simply to tolerate LGBT co-workers but to affirm their sexuality and gender identity.
Plus, companies that don’t abide by state and federal antidiscrimination statutes covering LGBTs will be not be able to receive government contracts. In fact, according to one religious liberty litigator who has had to defend clients against an exasperating array of antidiscrimination lawsuits, the only thing standing between an employer or employee and a court action is the imagination of LGBT plaintiffs and their lawyers.
“We are all vulnerable to such targeting,” he said.
Says a religious liberty lawyer, “There is no looming resolution to these conflicts; no plateau that we’re about to reach. Only intensification. It’s a train that won’t stop so long as there is momentum and track.”
David Gushee, a well-known Evangelical ethicist who holds an aggressively progressive stance on gay issues, published a column in 2016 noting that the middle ground is fast disappearing on the question of whether discrimination against gays and lesbians for religious reasons should be tolerated.
“Neutrality is not an option,” he wrote. “Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.”
Public school teachers, college professors, doctors, and lawyers will all face tremendous pressure to capitulate to this ideology as a condition of employment. So will psychologists, social workers, and all in the helping professions; and of course, florists, photographers, backers, and all businesses that are subject to public accommodation laws.
Christian students and their parents must take this into careful consideration when deciding on a field of study in college and professional school. A nationally prominent physician who is also a devout Christian tells me he discourages his children from following in his footsteps. Doctors now and in the near future will be dealing with issues related to sex, sexuality, and gender identity but also to abortion and euthanasia. “Patient autonomy” and nondiscrimination are the principles that trump all conscience considerations, and physicians are expected to fall in line.
“If they make compliance a matter of licensure, there will be nowhere to hide,” said this physician. “And then what do you do if you’re three hundred thousand dollars in debt from medical school, and have a family with three kids and a sick parent? Tough call, because there aren’t too many parishes or church communities who would jump in and help.”
The reader, a psychiatrist, said this is hitting very close to home for her. I asked her to write something I could share with the rest of you. She just sent this in; for reasons that will soon be obvious, she asked for anonymity:
Life behind the scenes as a psychiatrist in the new world of the transgender movement can be unsettling, to say the least. I currently work in a psychiatric hospital where those with feelings of being transgender are admitted for co-occurring mental disorders (which is the norm in these affected individuals). Typically, they will be admitted for depression or suicidality, but other mental illness is also seen. There is also a wide variety of personality disorders that are manifest as extremely disordered ways of coping with the world that also affects interpersonal relationships and a basic level of functioning in society. I only take care of adult patients over the age of 18 so my job is not as difficult as those of the child psychiatrists who deal with the influx of children and adolescents who now proclaim to be transgender and their either eager or confused parents (depending on the whether they accept their child’s “choice” or not). However, it is expected that one sit through training on how to affirm LGBTQ identities. It is also expected that one subscribe to the new accepted standards of care—which has morphed into actual validation of the transgender agenda by promoting physical rather than emotional treatments.
The crux of the problem in the mental health field is the inevitable threat of losing one’s job due to your belief that the current treatments endorsed for patients who have these feelings are actually harming them. Even the American Psychiatric Association which creates the diagnostic manual for the mental health field has since 2012 indicated that the new diagnosis of “gender dysphoria” (in the past, it was “gender identity disorder”) is not so much a mental illness as it is just a variant state of unhappiness with one’s biological gender. They also now advocate for surgical changes in those who feel they are transgender. The problem is that these feelings are just that—feelings. I and other psychiatrists with whom I communicate note that in no other diagnosis is surgical intervention seen to be the treatment for emotional distress.
“Body dysmorphic disorder” is a good example of such a diagnosis. In BDD, if a patient were to feel that their nose was of the wrong proportions, and their view was clearly not accurate, and it affected their social and occupational functioning, then you wouldn’t advocate surgery to alter their nose. It is accepted that this is not a cure. The psychiatrist utilizes therapy to treat the psychological aspects of this mental disorder and possibly medications to decrease the anxiety, obsessiveness, and depression that accompanies the disorder. In fact, surgical intervention would not be effective because the psychological component is still intact.
Psychiatrists who share my concerns don’t understand why surgical intervention and hormonal treatment in children as young as eight years old would be considered to be curative or beneficial in any sense for someone who feels they are a different gender. In fact, most children grow out of their feelings of being transgender by the time they complete puberty. If a child came to me and said that he was a cat, I would not affirm that thought—it is a parental duty to point our children to the truth. Likewise, if I have an adult patient who comes to me and says that he is Satan and wants to be called by that name, I do not do so because it affirms a delusional thought. Instead, we use medications and therapy to address those delusions.
In fact, we feel that what is considered now to be a gender identity problem may in fact just be a gender role problem. If a boy likes to cook or play with dolls, maybe he just doesn’t fit traditional gender roles. He may not be transgender—he may be just a boy who likes to play in a traditionally feminine role. In the past, it was accepted that there were girls who liked to play ball and climb trees. We didn’t consider them to be boys—we considered them to be “tomboys” who were clearly not boys. Unfortunately, even innocent discussions about these observations are heresy in the new world; transgenderism is not to be questioned.
There are those in my field who don’t understand how the medical community can recommend hormonal treatments in eight-year-olds, which will sterilize them for the rest of their lives. These children are not old enough to consent to such life-altering treatments. They are to be under the protection of adults. I believe in ten to twenty years there will be a plethora of lawsuits against parents and medical professionals who promote such radical treatments. Unfortunately, it will be too late for the victims to change what decisions were made for them by those they thought they could trust.
We not only live in a post-Christian world, but we also live in a post-truth world. In fact, the suicide rate of transgender individuals is extremely high, even after surgical intervention. The fact remains that surgery does not change your gender. It is only a superficial fix — building a façade that does nothing to change the psychological issues that create the feelings in the first place.
My fear, of course, is that I will have to choose. I will either have to violate my conscience as a physician and Christian and bow to the pressure to recommend surgical intervention, or use preferred gender pronouns that, in my opinion, truly harm patients — or I will decline to do so and will lose the profession that I have pursued most of my life. I believe I am on the front lines of this fight for truth and common sense and will suffer in the near future — all because I believe we should address the feelings of transgenderism rather than rush to surgical intervention and hormonal treatments.
My fellow psychiatrists and I have to discuss our concerns privately, and have not dared to voice our opinions publicly. We cannot speak out about how much harm we feel is being done to patients without fear of losing our livelihoods. The mob is real. It was not too long ago that a fellow physician spoke up against a progressive issue online. Her words were conveyed to her employer, and she lost her job because of what was said in a “safe” online group discussion. There is no safe place to discuss these issues.
There will be no conscientious objection allowed to this agenda. You must know that up front. I think Christian Americans need to wake up to the very real threat that faces anyone who thinks that they will not be affected. The LGBTQ agenda has always been one that you must accept and affirm or your reputation will be destroyed and your career as well. You must submit fully to the agenda, or suffer. The church in America must be prepared to suffer at the hands of those who are their own gods. Jesus knew we would suffer for our beliefs and this has happened since the beginning of the church: it is foolish to believe that we will be exempt.
Make no mistake, there will be no compromise. Christians will be forced to choose to a side. You will be for God or against God and his Word.
However, it just might save the American church from the clutches of those who distort the Gospel for their own purposes. The early Christians were martyred in the Colosseum, it could be worse—and it is worse all around the world where people die for their faith. It is time for the Benedict Option.
UPDATE: The psychiatrist writes back:
I just have one thing left to add:If Christians think that the Constitution or any governmental entity or person can save them—they are wrong. We are dealing with an opposition that is empowered by their ability to manipulate and even redefine the language we use to describe our world. Remember when tolerance meant that we could agree to disagree? It seems that it was a long time ago. They have no reason to compromise with Christians and we cannot be so gullible to once again think they would negotiate in good faith for a compromise. We can’t always be so naive. They have won the culture war and if you haven’t realized that yet, you are behind.
UPDATE.2: To be clear, this psychiatrist is a Christian talking to other Christians. But secular psychiatrists also have to think hard about what it will mean to them to be compelled to assent to treatment protocols that they believe will harm patients.