Monday, July 17, 2017

Conservative Catholic philosophers are in no position to determine medical truth

Despite some pretensions to the contrary, Witherspoon Institute remains a fundamentalist Catholic organization headed by an Opus Dei numerary. Monday, at Witherspoon's blog, Gerard T. Mundy writes: “Hiding from the Sun: Gender Ideology’s Attack on Truth.”

I cannot find Mundy's academic background. Suffice it to say, he is probably not a board certified psychiatrist. According to the post, “Gerard T. Mundy teaches philosophy at Saint Peter’s University, Jersey City.” Apparently Mundy was with St. Peter's University for about three years, presumably as an adjunct instructor. Given that truth is at issue, there was a link to his bio at the philosophy department. That link is gone.

The subtitle of this polemic is quite remarkable:
Gender ideology demands that everyone say of what is that it is not, and of what is not that it is. Lovers of truth must courageously resist this call to falsehood.
This guy thinks that he is very clever. There is nothing clever in denying science. Calling a condition — gender dysphoria — a falsehood is spectacularly stupid. Calling the medically mandated treatment of gender dysphoria an “ideology” is willful ignorance. Mundy is doing so because the pope (who is a theologian and not a clinician) does so. It makes no sense and it is literally killing people. These imbeciles are placing young children at considerable risk.

Amid pretentious garble referencing Plato, Socrates and Aristotle (are we suitably impressed?) Mundy writes:
The character of these demands should not be underestimated. One is not simply witnessing a decay of morals among a small minority, and an increase in libertinism and lasciviousness. With gender ideology, what one sees is a fanatical minority attempting to compel the majority to conform to false teachings. 
Apparently, people with a medical condition are immoral,  lascivious libertines. Apparently, the redundant terms are necessary to make this insecure guy feel smart and important. Moreover, according to Mr. Mundy, people with a medical condition are also fanatics. Mundy is compelled only to employ proper forms of address. The compelling force is simply good manners.

Truth seems elusive to Mr. Mundy:
A recent incident illuminates the detrimental transgenderist illogic. This year, a New Jersey woman, who alleges that she is a man, filed suit against St. Joseph’s Healthcare System because its New Jersey hospital, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, refused to perform the hysterectomy she requested. The institution thought it perverse—and certainly outside the practice of medicine—to dismember and remove her apparently healthy uterus and cervix.
Imagine Tiny Tim's  ukulele in the background: ♫Come tiptoe through the bullshit with me-eee.

For starters Mundy is suggesting that one individual is representative of a community. That may, or may not, be correct. What is so difficult about referring to this individual as a transgender man? Mundy has to editorialize and theologize with the ridiculous “woman who alleges that she is a man.” Pretending that a medical condition does not exist does not make it cease to exist.

Mundy is simply outraged that anyone would sue a Catholic hospital. It is an attack on the faith. What is at issue here is not exactly what is presented. According to the suit, the patient was scheduled for the procedure. The hospital then declined to perform the procedure because the patient is a transgender man. I have not read the suit. However according to the Washington Post (linked above):
The next step in his transition from female to male, Conforti’s doctors recommended, was a total hysterectomy, the surgical removal of his uterus and cervix. That operation, too, was deemed medically necessary — not just as a part of his transition, his doctors told him, but because his hormone therapy put him at risk of developing reproductive cancers.
Therefore, this was not, at Mundy contends, “outside the practice of medicine.”

Later, Mundy drones on ad ignorantiam
Beyond the hubris, the case is one of classic philosophical illogic. The “first principle” that the transgenderist needs simply is not there, for a woman is not and cannot be a man. So in order to prove the faulty first principle, the transgenderist tries to “create” it, to make it appear to be true. The gender ideologue removes all evidence that conflicts with the transgender principle, surgically mutilating her body and pumping it full of testosterone—for her body, being a woman’s body, is not producing “enough” of that hormone naturally.
So, one more time, let us step through this:

1. Gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition that afflicts a small minority of the population. It is characterized by a persistent and resolute conviction that one's gender is not congruent with their natal sex. Medicine recognizes that gender and sex are two entirely different things.

2. In some individuals gender dysphoria causes extreme anxiety and depression. This creates a considerable risk of self-harm.

3. There is no known medical intervention to reverse or reduce the existence of gender dysphoria.

4. Ten years ago clinicians tried to prevent people from becoming transgender in the hopes that their gender could ultimately conform to their natal sex. We now know that this approach does not work.

5. Being transgender (gender affirmation) is the best known method of treating the symptoms of gender dysphoria. Gender affirmation relieves both the anxiety and the depression thus reducing the potential for suicide considerably.

6. Because of Minority Stress transgender people face stigmatization and marginalization. Mr. Mundy and the Catholic Church are gratuitous purveyors of this stress.

Mundy's attitude makes no sense. It amounts to a determination to express his disapproval of transgender people. Why? Would he prefer that they suffer? Does he have an alternative approach to gender dysphoria? Based upon what? After all he is a philosopher, not a doctor.

What seems to really cause them to come unglued is the use of gender appropriate pronouns. They feel compelled as Mundy put it. Mundy completely dismisses the concept of gender. He is entitled to his beliefs. However, in polite society we address people as they choose to be addressed. Conforming to that convention is just good manners. It is neither necessary nor acceptable to always display our disapproval.

There is a good chance that Mundy disapproves of me as a Jew because I have not accepted Jesus Christ as my lord. According to him my disbelief is a falsehood. If he spoke with me, would he find it necessary to pepper his conversation with words of disapproval? Why is it any different with transgender people? In fact, it is a greater obligation. Religion is a choice. I can always convert but a person with gender dysphoria did not volunteer for anything.

The constant chorus of bigotry is unnecessary and damaging. We do not know how Mundy's polemic might affect a parent but anything that drives them away from the medical science is a distraction at best and possibly toxic for their LGBT children.

These are people who falsely believe that they have discovered the alchemy to turn gay kids straight. It seems reasonable to conclude that they can coerce gender to align with someone's natal sex. There is no science to support that belief. I do not know whether to call their insistence otherwise a fallacy, delusion or superstition. Regardless of what I might call it, it is just plain nonsense. Mundy calls the existence of trans people “an attack on truth.” That is the fiction. It is Mundy's enterprise that is an assault on reality. It harms real people.

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