Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Junk Science Masquerading As Political Advocacy

 Yesterday, I learned of the existence of a group calling themselves "Gender Dysphoria Alliance Canada". I was not happy with what I saw. 

They claim to be "evidence-based", and that's the first red flag when I wandered over to their website and started perusing it.  To me, the term "evidence-based" means something quite specific.  It means that you are using the best available science to inform your positions and advocacy. This is not particularly difficult to understand ... I hope. 

However, this group is not representing gender dysphoria, or its treatment in a reasonable  and evidence-based manner.  Far too much of the material presented is far from the mainstream of treatment and support for transgender people, and far too many talking points come straight out of the anti-transgender "Gender Critical" world. 

As far as I can tell, nobody involved with this group is actually involved in the science or treatment aspects related to Gender Dysphoria, and given the nature of what they are presenting, that is deeply concerning. 

How Do They Present Gender Dysphoria?

So, I wandered over to their "About GD" page, and I see this: 

"Oh, we're using autogynephilia ... delightful." is the first thought that goes through my head. Autogynephilia is a hypothesis that more or less rests on the idea that trans women get an erotic thrill out of the idea of having a vagina. While there is a small cadre of researchers that write about the idea, it is not well supported, or even backed by enough evidence to justify its use as a broad model for understanding gender dysphoria.  There's a reason that the WPATH Standards of Care (and other related SOC type documents) don't talk about autogynephilia, and the DSM 5 certainly does not.  

What's wrong with autogynephilia (and related hypotheses)?  First, it imposes motives on transgender women that there is no evidence that they are universal motives.  (If you get a sexual thrill out of having a vagina, go nuts - there's nothing wrong with it)  Second, it relies heavily on the same pathologizing language used for various sexual paraphilias (kinks, if you will) that can cause people clinical distress.  For many trans women, the desire to transition is not primarily a sexual matter, and it is unreasonable to impose sexual motives where that is not necessarily the case.  Third, it's a "tiny little boxes" model that attempts to impose rigid boundaries on human behaviour, a type of construct that we know all too well simply doesn't work very well in reality. 

Then they bring up "Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD)".  

ROGD, put quite bluntly, is based on junk science. Littman's study is so flawed as to be best described as garbage, and the conclusions drawn from it are simply unsupported by either the study itself or any other study.  I've written a long analysis of why Littman's study should not be taken seriously

I think by now, you should be starting to get a sense of why I am so suspicious here. The conceptualization of Gender Dysphoria being presented is clearly NOT based on credible science, and as a result it is not only misleading, but potentially harmful. 

When I took a brief look at the references list, I see a reference to J. Michael Bailey's book "The Man Who Would Be Queen" - another piece of notorious junk masquerading as science.  The rest of the list of references is fairly selective, and omits major works that are quite important. 

What Do They Provide For Resources?

The Resources Page is just as concerning as their presentation on what Gender Dysphoria is.  A significant chunk of the links go to websites that are well-known TERF or Gender Critical (is there really a difference?) sites like "4th Wave Now" and "Transgender Trend".  The rest appear to be personal project sites from people affiliated with the site (so the biases are fairly clear, here).  

Position Statements

There are 3 position statements on the organization's Documents page as of this writing.  One addresses ROGD, the second addresses SOGI-123, and the third is a briefing document presented to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional matters regarding Bill C-6 (conversion therapy ban).  

The first two are simply nonsense - I'll politely call them transphobia wrapped in a cloak of being "oh-so-reasonable".  When I have the time to give those the spanking they deserve, I'll sit down and write out more detailed treatments of them.  

The Senate briefing document is riddled with politicized language and misrepresentations of both therapy and Bill C-6.  Largely the misconceptions they are relying on have to do with not understanding the idea of 'affirmative treatment' in the first place, combined with a nice frothy amount of "Gender Critical" talking points that are ... well ... basically nonsense to begin with. 

Alternate Resources?

There are many alternate resources that provide far more intelligent and rational content about these matters.  I would recommend starting with organizations like WPATH and CPATH.  


Northern PoV said...

Interesting post.
Strident voices, who listen only to themselves seem to dumb down this complex set of issues.

Funny how a blogger on the 'progressive' site comes across as one of those voices;


MgS said...

That blogger tends to erase old posts (a lot), and yes, they also are prone to using a lot of language that is deliberately open-ended so they can stuff whatever meanings into it that they like (e.g. "Gender Ideology" - which is a dumping ground for all of the unfounded fears that they want to blame trans people for). It's basically the 21st century version of "The Gay Agenda" of the 80s and 90s.

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