Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Why does a pastor without so much as a BA think that he is a qualified psychiatrist?

Mark Narankevicius, Jr.
Mark Narankevicius, Jr. is a pastor at Darby Community Church in Florida. He currently attends Gateway Seminary (apparently online). While Gateway claims to be a graduate school it only requires a high school diploma and age over 25 (in lieu of a baccalaureate). It also offers non-degree certificate programs. Apparently this erudition enables Mr. Narankevicius to author: “Transgender People Need As Much Help As The ‘Human Ken Doll’ Does.” The subtitle of this arrogant bit of ignorance reads:
Pretending women can be men and boys can be girls is just as harmful as pretending a man can become a doll.
It is an exhibition of arrogance because Mr. Narankevicius knows nothing about psychiatry, let alone human sexuality. For starters he fails to understand the difference between a disorder and dysphoria or that there even is a difference:
Thirty-three-year-old Rodrigo Alves, also known as the “Human Ken Doll,” has had more than 50 surgeries…

In 2015, he was diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a compulsive preoccupation with the defects in one’s appearance … BDD is classified by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder …
But what if we switched the term “body dysmorphic disorder” with, say, “gender dysphoria”? Suddenly the American Psychiatric Association changes its tune, prescribing the following treatment: “Counseling, cross-sex hormones, puberty suppression and gender reassignment surgery.”
But what if this guy exercised some intellectual curiosity? He might learn that it is not switching of words around. Rather it is a different type of condition. A dysphoria is a discomfort. It is not a disorder. He might also learn that there are no medical interventions to reverse gender dysphoria. Gender affirmation and support allows people with gender dysphoria to be more comfortable “in their own skin.” There are degrees of discomfort with gender dysphoria. Untreated it can lead to severe depression, anxiety and even suicide. Gender affirmation and support saves lives — and that is not hyperbole.
Although the two disorders are undeniably similar, they get two very different treatments. One should be prevented. The other should be celebrated. One should be treated as a mental disorder. The other gets a parade, fawning magazine covers, and approval from our largest companies and medical associations. Why the inconsistency?
They are not at all similar. To put it simply:
  • People with body dysmorphic disorder are trying to change their body into something that they are not.
  • People with gender dysphoria get relief by changing their appearance into who they are.
People with gender dysphoria are not confused. They are the gender that their brain tells them they are regardless of chromosomes. The use of the word celebrated is trite. Some knowledgeable people try to make transgender folks feel accepted. What Narankevicius and his ilk never seem to grasp is the stress that these folks are already experiencing. Helping to relieve that stress with positive feedback is a good thing. Some might even call it “Christian” except for the fact that accepting gender dysphoria is at odds with those ancient chronicles of dubious provenance that some folks are inexplicably obsessed with.
Plastic Surgery Is Not the Answer

In January, National Geographic ran a cover story on transgender children, including a cover photo of “Avery,” a nine-year old boy who has been living as a girl since he was five. Avery’s tragic, confused words occupied the face of the magazine: “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy.” Ironically, just the opposite is true. Avery is actually a boy pretending to be a girl. But instead of recognizing the danger of this behavior and providing help, as for Alves, society cheers Avery on.
Thank you Dr. Narankevicius. I am grateful for his medical expertise. The problem is that people like Narankevicius are a menace because some parents mistakenly believe that they have better answers than the professional clinicians who have spent many years, even decades studying human sexuality. According to research on trans kids, Avery is not confused. Not at all. Nor is she pretending. The real danger would be pretending that she is a boy because she is not. And, again, there is no medical intervention that will conform Avery's emotional gender to her genitalia.
Those who suffer from BDD and those who suffer from gender dysphoria are in similar situations: Their self-perception clashes with physical reality. There is a mental disconnect between who they are and who they believe themselves to be.
No they are not similarly situated. The circumstances are entirely different.
So what’s next? Adults who think they’re children? People who think they’re animals? Yes and yes, actually, including a transgendered man who got horn implants and hacked off his ears and nose because he realized he’s a dragon. These various groups sound loony, yet they claim that “if you support transgender rights, you ought to support” them, too. They’re right.
Now what he is doing is taking a few individuals at the extreme edge and comparing them to transgender people, most of whom, by the way, are quite normal. Certainly more normal than I am. He is not making any important points because gender is an integral part of who we really are. He is also not making a great deal of sense.
Surgery and hormone treatment for the transgendered has also produced terrible side effects such as heart disease, damaged organs, altered blood pressure, a higher risk of depression, and a higher risk of substance abuse. The transgendered community also experiences a higher suicide rate, and that doesn’t go away after sex reassignment surgery.
All surgery has risks associated with it. That second link points to that opinion piece in New Atlantis which is essentially a conservative Christian blog. The piece is not peer reviewed. I have covered it extensively, even speaking at length with one of the authors (you can search0. I am not going to re-visit the issue. And by the way, in the absence of any real research I would wager that suicide rates decline with gender affirmation. The New Atlantis piece is associated with Johns Hopkins which studied the issue. After decades of not doing so, they announced last October that they are re-starting their gender affirming surgery program.
Gender dysphoria is not natural, and those who suffer from it need help. Real compassion means recognizing that our society is sick in the head, and the cure is not in the toy aisle.
Actually gender dysphoria is a natural variant of human sexuality. And by the way, doctor, what kind of therapy do you recommend?

Transgender people can accomplish anything that cisgender people can accomplish. They are doctors and lawyers and involved in just about every form of human endeavor. Most of them are not going to be limited by narrow-minded self-righteous bigots who have no answers, only irrelevant negative dogma that doesn't help anyone.

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