There is much celebration surrounding Bruce Jenner’s transformation into the woman Caitlyn Jenner. But lost in all the noise of this being a brave decision is consideration of a question: Is it a wise decision?
One of the healthcare organizations that pioneered sex-change surgery would say no.
Despite the fact that Johns Hopkins University was one of the early practitioners of gender-reassignment procedures in the 1970s, they abandoned the practice after a number of studies showed that they failed to really help those who underwent surgery. In a fascinating 2004 article, John McHugh, then psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said:
I have witnessed a great deal of damage from sex-reassignment. The children transformed from their male constitution into female roles suffered prolonged distress and misery as they sensed their natural attitudes. Their parents usually lived with guilt over their decisions—second-guessing themselves and somewhat ashamed of the fabrication, both surgical and social, they had imposed on their sons. As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their “true” sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for surgery and for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.
While I feel compassion for Jenner and those suffering with struggles relating to their identity, my hope is that they would find healing from God who has made them in his image. Affirming people taking a stand like the reality TV star can seem loving. But ultimately, recent research (and the scriptures) show that this is a harmful pursuit.
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