On June 25, 2009, Dale O’Leary posted a blog article filled entitled Legalizing Deception: Why “Gender Identity” Should Not be Added to Anti-discrimination Legislation.
His article makes several misstatements of fact, and builds on them to construct an argument against human rights for transgender people that requires refutation. So, let’s start with some of his gems:
In describing proposed human right legislation similar to GENDA, the bill pending in the New York State legislature, he states that enactment of such legislation “would mean that males dressed as females could use women’s restrooms and locker rooms.”
This is the first error – he does not seem to understand that women born transsexual were never really male, and men born transsexual were never really women – we’re born transsexual, with a brain that developed in one “sexed” direction, and a body that developed genitalia in accordance with the wolffian or mullerian duct system (both present in embryonic and fetal development of all babies) that developed in the other "sexed” direction.
He amplifies on his error with this paragraph:
“No one can change sex; it is written in DNA on every cell of our bodies. The people demanding “gender identity and expression” protection are physically normal men or women, but according to the “gender” ideologues, what matters is not what sex you really are, but what sex you want to be or think you are. People could be sanctioned for simply using the correct pronouns when referring to a person who is obviously male, but wants to be female.”
O’Leary’s first sentence is correct – transsexual people do not want to change their sex, we want to conform our genital development to our brain development, in a society that arbitrarily recognizes only two sexes, male and female. He doesn't seem to understand the first thing about DNA, or he wouldn't be using DNA as an argument - my genetic blueprint resulted in me being different - but he must be thinking of the overly-simplified XY and XX concept. As to using the "correct" pronouns - O'Leary apparently does not know what the correct pronouns are, and would prefer to insult people by using the wrong ones intentionally as a provocation, rather than to respect others and their lives.
O’Leary builds further, referring to the desire of transsexual people to conform our bodies with our brains to be a “lie” and a “deception.” The lies and deceptions are coming from O’Leary and his ilk. O’Leary’s association with NARTH indicates that he is just another dangerous demagogue attempting to conform reality to his narrow vision.
He provides some junk psychology attributing gender identity, actually based on brain structures and developed in accordance with our personal genetic blueprint, to things like, “As children they may have been wounded, traumatized, abused, or rejected.” He deceptively spins the “deceit” angle. By constantly repeating his lie, he figures it might stick in the reader's mind.
He drops more lies into the mix: “While persons who want to be the other sex desperately want to believe that they were born with this problem, there is no evidence for this.”
No evidence? That is either a baldfaced lie, or perhaps O'Leary is merely an ignorant fool pretending to be an expert. Apparently he has not heard of, or chose to ignore, any of the scientific evidence, such as:
- Zhou, Hoffman, Gooren, Swaab A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality (Nature 378, 68-70 (02 Nov 1995)
- Lauren Hare; Pascal Bernard; Francisco J. Sánchez; Paul N. Baird; Eric Vilain; Trudy Kennedy; Vincent R. Harley Androgen Receptor Repeat Length Polymorphism Associated with Male-to-Female Transsexualism (Biological Psychiatry, Volume 65, Issue 1, Pages 93-96, 1 January 2009)
Instead, he goes to the pop-(pseudo)psychology writings of J. Michael Bailey, whose book The Man Who Would Be Queen is a poorly-written pop rehash of the poorly-constructed psychological theories of Ray Blanchard and Anne Lawrence with regard to the nature of transsexuality. And O’Leary doesn’t even get that right – Bailey, Blanchard and Lawrence posit that some transsexuals are “homosexual transsexuals” and others are “autogynephilic.”
O’Leary ought coinsider the idea that autogynephilia is a normal state of mind for a female person – essentially liking oneself as a woman. Only those who see women born transsexual as “really being delusional men” can come to the conclusion that “liking oneself as a woman” is a psychiatric disorder.
His quote of Anne Lawrence is a joke. I am personally an example of a transsexual woman who does not have an issue with reality, and the number of those who do have any issues, have issues that are based on internalized transphobia, often as the result of years of inculcation with erroneous social and religious beliefs that are antithetical to the truth.
The implication O’Leary paints for us is that transsexual people are delusional. He doesn’t even understand that which would constitute a delusion for a transsexual person.
If I were to be convinced that I was menstruating, pregnant, or claimed to have given birth to babies, those beliefs would be delusional. My mullerian duct system did not develop – I have no uterus or ovaries, and while I wish I did, that doesn’t make me delusional. A belief that I *am* a woman, even though I had a wollfian genital development, is not delusional, since it is based on the fact of my brain development.
We live in a society that expects two kinds of people – men, or women. There is no separate classification for those who are different. Many of us have sufficient identity with the sex opposite that we were assigned at birth, based on physiological structures in our brains, to be able to live in society in accordance with the way our brains developed. Others may well have a less-developed or differentiated brain structure, while still others may identity in such a way as to require that society recognize an “other” in addition to male or female.
The enactment of laws that protect us against job discrimination, discrimination in housing, insurance, and public accommodations (and yes, that includes bathrooms) is just. O’Leary panders to the fear-mongers and hate-mongers – and to the reparative therapists.
O’Leary uses his lies and deception to advance the idea that transgender people should not be entitled to reasonable accommodation under the law. He would rather impose his world-view on people it doesn't cover. Anyone who does not fit into that world view must be insane.
O’Leary claims to be writing the truth – but all I see in his article are lies. Perhaps he doesn’t believe he is lying – perhaps he is only delusional, after all.
He claims to be Catholic – and he may well be Catholic. After all, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t seem to understand sacred scripture as it relates to transsexual people. The current Pope Benedict doesn't comprehend the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, one would be expecting too much for the Pope to understand transsexuality.
I am appalled that some conservative Catholics have been at the forefront of the movement against human rights for my people. I am appalled that the Catholic hierarchy has seen fit to oppose civil marriage on a gender-neutral basis. O’Leary may well share in this lack of moral values. I would expect the “Cafeteria” Catholics out there, who have a well-developed moral sense sufficient to be able to discern the Truth, will reject the lies of O’Leary and his ilk (Paul McHugh, the eating-disorder specialist who heads the psychiatric department at Johns Hopkins comes to mind), much as they have rejected Church teachings on issues such as birth control, the treatment of women, and gay rights.