Testimony of Dr. Berger

I find this to be a powerful statement about how no person is scientifically actually “transgender.”  It is written by Dr. Berger, a psychiatrist in Toronto.  The truth is that people have feelings of unhappiness or unease about their gender.  The solution is not surgery but rather psychological help to address the feelings instead of altering the body.

http://arpacanada.ca/attachments/article/1724/Testimony%20of%20Dr.%20Berger%20re%20c279.pdf

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6 comments on “Testimony of Dr. Berger

  1. Ralph says:

    “Therefore anyone who actually, truly believes that notion, is by definition deluded, psychotic.”
    Wow, he’s going to catch a LOT of heat for that. Mostly from people who will respond not with a scientific rebuttal but “He’s wrong because I just *know* it in my heart!”

    I agree with most of what he said, but… there is just no way in this universe he’s going to convince people that they’re mistaken about “really” being the opposite sex. The problem, as always, is getting everyone to agree on what it means to be male or female. “I know I have a Y chromosome and male genitalia and a beard and a deep voice, but deep down inside I’m really female because….” Because what, you’re emotionally sensitive? Nurturing? Men can be like that too and it doesn’t make them any less male. Because you like wearing pretty clothes and looking at yourself in the mirror? Men can do that too, although personally I think *anybody* who does that is rather shallow. So when someone says that deep down inside they’re really female, what is it about them that can’t possibly be male?

    Now having said that, I’ll switch teams and play devil’s advocate for a moment. People are born every day with biological conditions that lead to an unhappy life — poor eyesight, missing limbs, whatever. We don’t tell those people “That’s how you were born, so surgery isn’t the answer.” If laser eye surgery will make me happier, is it wrong? Yes, it’s just an artificial representation of someone with perfect eyesight, but it’s a close enough approximation to let me live out my dream of being able to see better. At the most, SRS could be considered no different from tattoos or body piercings — surgical alteration of the body to allow us to express ourselves the way we feel is right. So I figure, if someone thinks that SRS would improve their quality of life, who am I to deny them the right to make a mistake?

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  2. thorin25 says:

    Well Ralph, your point against the article, keep in mind that while both he and I think that surgery is not the right solution, he is not arguing that surgery like that should be against the law. Dr. Berger is just arguing that transgender people don’t need “special rights” as they already are allowed to get such surgeries freely. And I would not argue that it should be against the law either. But I would argue against making laws that force me to act as if, or believe, that they have truly “changed sexes.”

    On the other hand, I think doctors should be allowed to refuse doing this “treatment” for transgendered people. It is abundantly easy to make powerful arguments that doing this is actually harming people, and doctors are supposed to do no harm. That makes it very different from laser surgery to repair eyesight in that it’s much more difficult to make an argument that that is physically harming people. Laser surgery repairs eyesight, enhancing bodily function, SRS mutilates proper bodily function.

    And I agree with you that he probably won’t win the transgendered crowd over with his arguments. But I also don’t find it offensive that he says they have pscyhological problems or that they are deluded. When my relative had an eating disorder, it was true that she was deluded and had psychological issues. When my other relative had depression, same thing. I even consider my crossdressing issue to be the same thing. I think all of us have various psychological problems and various things we are deluded about.

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  3. Ralph says:

    Well, it’s all easy enough to say “Let them have whatever surgery they want, just don’t force me to give them special rights.” But even in the course of everyday interaction, there are going to be conflicts. Suppose you run a business, and one of your employees has SRS. Should you be allowed to fire the employee on that basis alone, regardless of performance or other job-related qualifications? If this employee, totally convinced that (s)he is female and with the surgical augmentation to support that claim, wants to use the restroom and biologically female employees express discomfort, which side do you take?

    I’m not saying I know the right answer to either of those questions (although I think it would be a poor representation of Christian love in the first example regardless of what the law supports) but what one person calls “special rights” another person calls “being fair to everyone”. It’s like with gay marriage. Anti-marriage folks say they are demanding special rights; pro-marriage folks say they are only asking for the same rights as everyone else.

    Why does life have to be so complicated?

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  4. A Quiet Voice says:

    I tend to agree with a great deal of what Dr. Berger says, as well as Thorin’s interpretation.
    On the other hand I must point out that this following comment is highly problematic in that it reflects those terribly harmful inferences that result from failing to recognize that important distinction between cross-dressers and other denizens of the “trans-community”…and those suffering from a genuine, medically treatable malady.

    Ralph, by asserting that…”At the most, SRS could be considered no different from tattoos or body piercings — surgical alteration of the body to allow us to express ourselves the way we feel is right.” ….you are making a dismissively insensitive, and completely ignorant assessment.

    Comparing SRS–a life saving procedure for those that actually, desperately MUST have it–to tattoos or body piercings, is demonstrating a total lack of understanding of just exactly what is at issue. Ralph’s thinking, as demonstrated by these statements, just shows the harm done when people see TG’s and CD’s as just some lesser form of TS. Apples and oranges are just not the same. As long as this conflation, (mix and match), persists, tragedy will ensue.

    “So I figure, if someone thinks that SRS would improve their quality of life, who am I to deny them the right to make a mistake?” ~Ralph

    You are nobody. You are Ralph and I would argue that you demonstrably do not understand of what you speak.

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  5. Ralph says:

    “You are nobody. You are Ralph and I would argue that you demonstrably do not understand of what you speak.”

    Guilty on all charges. I’m just trying to make sense of the world and untangle right from wrong. That’s why we have these discussions, so that those with greater insight can enlighten those with lesser insight.

    However, you misunderstand my intent in the line about body piercing. I wasn’t saying “I think SRS is no better than body piercing”; I’m saying “I think SRS is no *worse* than body piercing”. The point was not to dismiss SRS as trivial, but to avoid discarding it as harmful. I don’t know if that changes your response to what I said, but there you have it.

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  6. A Quiet Voice says:

    I am sorry Ralph, and I apologizing for sounding unduly harsh. I certainly am not here to sort out right from wrong. My goal and intent is just to clear up the language when it comes to those things which I do understand and have some experience with.

    Ignorance is not necessarily a bad thing and is easily addressed via education. Understanding the distinction between fetish based or sex-fueled cross-dressing and what is arguably a congenital disorder is just one of many steps needed to make that journey to effective treatment.

    One of the things that I do disagree with Dr. Berger on is his easy dismissal of an actual etiology for gender dysphoria. There is plenty of research that does demonstrate a physiological basis for this disorder. Identifying and understanding the causes is just part of the task and most certainly does little to help those suffering. Nevertheless, I do agree with Thorin that even understanding the cause does not relieve us of our own personal responsibility to deal with the end result.

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