Is Transgenderism a Fad?

GeorgiaLeeLang100The media circus surrounding Caitlyn Jenner (aka Bruce Jenner) has introduced transsexualism and transgenderism to a public that has been largely unaware of the nuances of these forms of gender dysphoria.

I can’t remember a time when there was such open discourse about gender identity and with this transparency comes articles, movies, TV shows, and public policy discussions.

A recent article in Britain’s Daily Mail describes an American family with two children, a girl and a boy, each of whom had researched transgenderism on the internet. Their youngest daughter who appeared to be a happy teen, albeit a tomboy, was the first to advise her parents she was transgendered and wished to transition to a male. Meanwhile, her older brother, who was bullied at school for his feminine manners and appearance came out to his parents one month later.

Both mom and dad unconditionally support their teenagers’ decisions, and surgery and hormonal treatments are underway for both, in fact, their mother wishes they had come out sooner so they each could have avoided the consequences of puberty, which complicates their gender switch.

Is this gender phenomenon on the uprise? That’s hard to say because research in this area is scant, however, if newspaper articles, daytime talk shows, the implementation of legislation in various jurisdictions to protect transgendered persons, and the development of children’s gender clinics is a sign, then the answer is “yes”.

Dr. Alice Dreger, a well-regarded American bioethicist, whose research includes intersex and sex development disorders, is not afraid to challenge the politics of gender dysphoria, while supporting social justice issues that effect this community. She opines that gender identity issues may be a symptom of other family problems.

“The dirty little secret is that many of these families have big dysfunctional issues. When you get the clinicians over a beer, they’ll tell you the truth. A lot of the parents aren’t well in terms of their mental health. They think that once the child transitions, all their problems will magically go away, but that’s not really where the stress is located.”

Experts and clinicians won’t say these things publicly, she says, because they don’t want to sound as if they’re blaming gender problems on screwed-up families.

Likewise, Dr. Joseph Berger, a consulting psychiatrist in Toronto, who is past Chairman of the Toronto district of the Ontario Medical Association, and past President of the Ontario branch of the American Psychiatric Association, believes that people who identify as transgendered are mentally ill or simply unhappy. He says that what they need is treatment for delusions, psychosis, or emotional problems, not surgery and hormones.

What is irrefutable from the research are the scores of transgendered persons who have attempted suicide, although linking suicide attempts to mental illness is problematic given the challenges faced by transgendered persons including discrimination in housing and the workplace, loss of family, homelessness, poverty, and other significant social factors.

What about sex-change regret? Numerous articles and websites discuss this issue and lawsuits against surgeons have been launched around the world, particularly in Australia. But who better to speak to regret than Rene Richards, the tennis icon who transitioned in the 1970’s:

“If there was a drug that I could have taken that would have reduced the pressure, I would have been better off staying the way I was—a totally intact person. I know deep down that I’m a second-class woman. I get a lot of inquiries from would-be transsexuals, but I don’t want anyone to hold me out as an example to follow. Today there are better choices, including medication, for dealing with the compulsion to cross dress and the depression that comes from gender confusion. As far as being fulfilled as a woman, I’m not as fulfilled as I dreamed of being. I get a lot of letters from people who are considering having this operation…and I discourage them all.” —Rene Richards, “The Liaison Legacy,” Tennis Magazine, March 1999.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Goldie Hawn’s Ex Accuses Her of Parental Alienation

DSC00280How could you not fall in love with Goldie Hawn? She was the giggly blonde, with her bikini and body paint on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, a role that launched her career.

Do you also remember the Hudson Brothers? Bill, Mark and Brett were three very handsome young men who hit the pop charts in the early 70’s and later appeared on their own television show. Their stars were rising at about the same time that Goldie Hawn’s career took off.

Bill and Goldie married in 1976, a marriage that lasted only four years, but produced two talented children, Kate Hudson, age 36, now a famous actress in her own right, and Oliver Hudson, age 38, a model and actor who currently appears in the TV show “Nashville”.

Those of you who keep up to date on celebrity activities know that Ms. Hawn began living with Kurt Russell, a successful child actor who made a small fortune for Walt Disney with his ten-year contract. He has had a prolific Hollywood career since that time.

Celebrity journalists often hinted at a serious rift between Bill Hudson and Goldie Hawn, an uncoupling that has festered over the years, but until this week the extent of their animosity was kept under wraps. That is until Father’s Day 2015 when Bill saw a photo on Instagram that immediately put a damper on what had been a wonderful Father’s Day. His son, Oliver, had posted a heart-warming photo of Bill with Kate and Oliver taken 30 years earlier, two cute toddlers with their handsome father. The caption read:

“Happy Abandonment Day….@katehudson”

The post went viral and thousands of people commented on the good, the bad, and the ugly of absentee fathers. Later, Bill saw that Kate posted a photo of herself alongside Kurt Russell with the caption: “Pa, just simply…thank you. Happy Father’s Day. I love you to the moon and back.”

Bill was devastated by Oliver’s message and angry that Oliver believed Bill had walked away from him and Kate. As Bill’s phone rang off the hook he decided it was time to answer the allegations that he had abandoned his children.

He agreed to sit for an interview with the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail where he got a few things off his chest.

“When we split up, she never had a bad word to say about me. But when Kurt came on the scene, the narrative changed and I became the big, bad wolf. I would say to her “Goldie, why are you trashing me and saying I’m an absent father when it’s simply not the case? and she’d laugh and go “Oh Bill, you know it makes for a better story. I believe the drip, drip, drip of poison which started when they were kids finally took hold. Goldie wanted to create this myth of a perfect family with Kurt and she wanted me out.”

In the interview Bill confirmed that gradually Kate and Oliver rejected their relationship with him, although initially he lived on the beach in Malibu not far from Goldie and was part of the children’s lives for years, including weekends and family holidays. He wrote a letter to his children every week, but now wonders whether they were given the letters. He also takes objection to Kate’s statement that she never even received a birthday card from him. He says that he sent a card every year to each of his children and called them faithfully on every birthday.

Meanwhile in the social media flurry, Oliver responded to one post saying:

“What started out as what I thought as a joke has turned into something more. And I embrace that. I’ve done and continue to do a lot of work on myself to better understand what make me tick. Yes, science links us but love binds us.”

It is hard to say where the truth lies but Bill Hudson’s reply to the allegations rings true to me and is typical of stories of parental alienation I have heard over the years.

He ends his interview saying that Kate and Oliver will no longer be in his life and that if they are that unhappy they should change their last names, a sad and bitter conclusion to many years of hurt and misunderstanding.

Oliver’s suggestion that his post began as a joke is disingenuous and childish coming from a 38-year old man. I’d say he needs to continue “working on himself” and if Bill Hudson’s protestations are true, then Goldie Hawn should be ashamed of her behaviour.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Waiting for Canada’s New Euthanasia Law

GEO_edited-1A perfectly healthy 24-year old woman in Belgium will be killed by her doctors only because she has “suicidal thoughts”. She does not suffer from any terminal disease or physical illness.

While Nazi Germany pioneered legal euthanasia, Switzerland was an early adopter, followed by Columbia in 1997, Holland in 2002 and Belgium in 2003. Belgium’s original law applied only to adults, but in February 2015 they extended the law to include children.

The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail quotes the woman as saying:

‘Death feels to me not as a choice. If I had a choice, I would choose a bearable life, but I have done everything and that was unsuccessful. I played all my life with these thoughts of suicide, I have also done a few attempts. But then there is someone who needs me, and I don’t want to hurt anyone. That has always stopped me.

Canada, of course, is never far behind when it comes to controversial social justice issues, such as abortion, same-sex marriage, legalized prostitution, and most recently, euthanasia.

In a historic decision this year, (Carter v. Canada) the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that desperately suffering patients have a constitutional right to doctor-assisted suicide, giving the government twelve months to draft legislation.

The criteria established by the Court is that the person must be a consenting adult under a physician’s care, who cannot tolerate the physical or psychological suffering brought on by a severe, incurable illness, disease or disability.

Only last week the government indicated that because of the coming election it will need more time to draft appropriate laws, a situation that will not likely induce sympathy from the high court.

But Belgium’s data on euthanasia will undoubtedly be studied by the government as they shape the new law. Interesting statistics include the following:

1. Euthanasia deaths are increasing year over year. In 2011 there were 1,133 and in 2012 1,432, an increase of 25%. In 2013 1,816 were euthanized, an increase of 27% over 2012.

2. Of the total cases in 2013 51.7% were men, while 48.3% were women.

3. Persons aged between 70 and 90 years accounted for 53.5%, those aged 60 to 70 represented 21% and those over 90, 7%. Persons under 60 made up 15% of the total cases.

Most of Belgium’s euthanasia deaths attract no attention, however, there have been several media-worthy deaths, including the assisted suicides of 45-year-old Belgian twins, Mark and Eddy Verbessem.

The twins were deaf and conversed in sign language and had been told to expect to lose their sight, but there was no indication their condition was “medically futile” or their mental suffering at the prospects of becoming blind, could not be alleviated with appropriate medical treatment. Also recent was the euthanization of a transgendered Belgium man who applied because he was horrified at the way he looked after hormone therapy and surgery.

Whoever forms the next government in Canada will be saddled with the responsibility of crafting a law that allows terminally ill patients to die with dignity, while still ensuring that vulnerable adults are protected, a goal that has apparently eluded the Belgians.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang