Prominent Psychiatrist: Transgender is ‘Emotional Unhappiness … Purely Psychological’

Michael W. Chapman | February 2, 2016 | 4:02pm EST
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Dr. Joseph Berger. 

Dr. Joseph Berger, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, states that from “a scientific perspective,” being “transgendered” is a psychological issue – “emotional unhappiness” – and “cosmetic surgery” is not the “proper treatment.”

Dr. Berger, who also is a past president of the Ontario District Branch of the American Psychiatric Association, presented his remarks before the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights when it was considering a bill (C-279) in 2013 to “include gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination.”

The proposed legislation, popularly known as the “bathroom bill,” essentially would prohibit discrimination against the transgendered. In the bill, “gender identity” is defined as “the individual’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex that the individual was assigned at birth.”

Dr. Berger told the committee, “From a scientific perspective, let me clarify what ‘transgendered’ actually means. I am speaking now about the scientific perspective – and not any political lobbying position that may be proposed by any group, medical or non-medical.”

“‘Transgendered’ are people who claim that they really are or wish to be people of the sex opposite to which they were born, or to which their chromosomal configuration attests,” he stated. “Sometimes, some of these people have claimed that they are ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ or alternatively ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body.’”

“Scientifically, there is no such thing,” he said.

“The medical treatment of delusions, psychosis or emotional happiness is not by surgery,” continued the doctor.

(AP photo)

“On the other hand,” he said, “if these people are asked to clarify exactly what they believe, that is to say do they truly believe whichever of those above propositions applies to them and they say ‘no,’  then they know that such a proposition is not true, but that they ‘feel’ it, then what we are talking about scientifically, is just unhappiness, and that unhappiness is being accompanied by a wish -- that leads some people into taking hormones that predominate in the other sex, and even having cosmetic surgery designed to make them ‘appear’ as if they are a person of the opposite sex.”

“The proper treatment of emotional unhappiness is not surgery,” said Dr. Berger.  “Cosmetic surgery will not change the chromosomes of a human being. Cosmetic surgery will not make a man become a woman, capable of menstruating, ovulating, and having children. Cosmetic surgery will not make a woman into a man, capable of generating sperm that can unite with an egg or ovum from a woman and fertilize that egg to produce a human child.”

“These are the scientific facts,” he said.

(AP photo.)

“There seems to me to be no medical or scientific reason to grant any special rights or considerations to people who are unhappy with the sex they were born into, or to people who wish to dress in the clothes of the opposite sex -- which I believe is not illegal,” said Dr. Berger.

In concluding his remarks, Dr. Berger said, “I have read the brief put forward by those advocating special rights [for the transgendered], and I find nothing of scientific value in it. Words and phrases are used that have no objective scientific basis such as ‘the inner space.’”

“[T]he so-called ‘confusion about their sexuality that a teenager or adult has is purely psychological,” he said.

Dr. Berger’s practice is based in Toronto, Ontario. In addition to the medical credentials cited, Dr. Berger is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology; the former representative for Ontario (2002-2010) to the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association; and the author of The Independent Medical Examination in Psychiatry, as well as numerous medical and academic papers. 

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