Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Another amicus brief - another anti-science crackpot physician

Dr. Miriam Grossman
The rabidly anti-LGBT Dr. Miriam Grossman is an adolescent and child psychiatrist in Los Angeles.
Image via YouTube
Dr. Miriam Grossman of Los Angeles emerges as a relatively new name in transphobic, intellectually dishonest rhetoric. (This is the first time she has come to my attention.) Grossman has signed onto an amicus brief in Drew Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, Florida generated by the hate group Alliance Defending Freedom.

This case is before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Drew Adams is a transgender boy. In July, 2018 a federal district court ruled that Drew must be permitted to use the boys' restroom at school. Since then I doubt that anyone has died. The sky has not fallen and Earth is still spinning on its axis.

The scientific evidence is clear and compelling. The gender-affirming care model allows children with severe gender dysphoria to function normally or close to normal. The model is the official recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The alternative proposed by religious cranks is some form of conversion or reparative therapy which essentially blames the presence of gender dysphoria on upbringing.

ADF's other amici curiae are the usual conservative Christian malcontents; defenders of the faith over science. These include:
Michael K. Laidlaw practices endocrinology in California. Laidlaw is not board certified in any specialty. Above all else, Laidlaw is a professional Catholic who is obsessed with transgender people. He has written anti-trans tirades for a number of conservative Catholic outlets. Laidlaw also signed the American College of Pediatricians letter to the Trump administration which seeks to make gender and sex synonymous. Laidlaw does not treat pediatric gender dysphoria.

Quentin Van Meter (Peachtree City, GA) is a board certified pediatrician and pediatric endocrinologist. He is also president of the hate group, American College of Pediatricians. Van Meter recently settled a malpractice suit for $1 million. Van Meter's practice is focused on pediatric diabetes. He does not treat people with gender dysphoria.

Andre Van Mol (Redding, CA) is board certified in family medicine. Van Mol is co-chair of the American College of Pediatricians’ Committee on Adolescent Sexuality which is kind of like the local Klan chapter's Working Group on Jewish Scripture. Van Mol was a promoter of the thoroughly discredited Regnerus study and is a noisy proponent of conversion therapy. There is no evidence that he has ever treated pediatric gender dysphoria.

Joining the disgruntled fundamentalist Christians is Dr. Miriam Grossman. Grossman is a board certified psychiatrists in Los Angeles with a subspecialty in child and adolescent psychiatry. My quick take is that Grossman is trying to become a celebrity; someone who will regularly appear on Dr. Oz. Grossman is a nasty piece of work. Not surprisingly, Grossman is reportedly a proponent of conversion therapy. I have been unable to determine whether or not Grossman is an orthodox Jew.

Ten years ago Grossman wrote a book about sex education:
Dr. Miriam Grossman rips back the curtain on sex education today, exposing a sordid truth. Today's sex ed programs aren't based on science; they're based on liberal lies and politically correct propaganda that promote the illusion that children (yes, children) can be sexually free without risk.
Her nemeses were the medical establishment and Planned Parenthood. We can only speculate how that morphed into anti-science crackpottery about trans and gender nonconforming kids. My guess is that she wants some attention (she got quite a bit when her book first came out).

I have not read the book. It allegedly includes a cite to this anti-trans page and pamphlet at the hate group MassResistance. There is also a cite to the vile PFOX. She has reportedly claimed that oral sex is linked to oral cancer (it is not). Her text includes this lovely bit of prose:
One notes how often the term “transgender folks” is used to get us to believe they are people just like you and I – they just want to be castrated, that’s all.
As I said, she is a nasty piece of work.

In 2010 Grossman spoke at Ruth Institute's gala in Los Angeles. Grossman seems to be a magnet to Christian anti-LGBT hate groups, including Ruth.

On her website, Grossman promotes various topics for which she is available as a speaker. One of these is:
The Truth About Gender
Audience: General
Is being male or female unrelated to chromosomes and anatomy? Can a woman become a man, and then give birth to a child? With all the misinformation foisted on us, young people are more confused than ever. This presentation addresses the history of these ideas, how they are discredited by today’s science, and why radical agendas keep them going. This talk is very relevant to the debate about redefining marriage.
Suffice it to say that it is Dr. Grossman who is the purveyor of a radical agenda which is thoroughly discredited by medical science. She is at considerable odds with her own professional organization.

In 2010 Grossman gave committee testimony opposing California's FAIR Education Act which amended the California Education Code to include the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful reference to contributions by people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community in history and social studies curriculum. Grossman reportedly said:
It is our responsibility to protect children as best we can from exposure to facts and experiences that they are not equipped to handle… If this bill, SB 48 passes, I fear for the children of this state. More harm will come from this bill than good. Certainly, we can teach children the importance of respect and tolerance in a manner that is consistent with child development and biological truths.
Apparently it is her view that simply knowing that people are LGBT poses a threat to children. “Biological truths” is code for dismissing gender as an important construct in human sexuality.

It turns out that this is not the first anti-trans amicus brief that Miriam Grossman has signed onto. In 2017, she signed a similar brief in a similar case: Doe v. Boyertown Area School District. Doe is a Pennsylvania teen who was supposedly profoundly traumatized by the presence of a trans boy in his school's restrooms. In 2017 a federal district court ruled in favor of the school district. That ruling was upheld on appeal. ADF et al are trying to get the Supreme Court to hear the case.

On her website (accompanied by what appears to be a photo of 1990s vintage) Grossman claims:
… what’s most important to me is not debating the American Psychological Association or Planned Parenthood. My priority is to keep people out of the offices of doctors and therapists. To that end, I’m on a crusade to reach as many individuals as possible, in the US and abroad, with biological truths they need to know, but aren’t being told.
This mad woman is dangerous. What she is really saying is that she wants to persuade parents to avoid practitioners who conform to best practices. My priority could be to keep people out of Grossman's office.

Also on her website is this bit of hyperbolic sophistry:
GOODBYE Marriage. GOODBYE Mothers & Fathers.
GOODBYE Male & Female.

In a World gone MAD, Children are in DANGER

Fight the madness: arm children with the scientific truths about love and family found in The Black & White Puppy.

“A politically incorrect educational treasure that belongs in every home.” - Michelle Cretella MD, President, American College of Pediatricians
So let's look at what these people signed:
Included in the brief are references to the hate group, American College of Pediatricians and “papers” by its executive director, Michelle Cretella. It also refers to a couple of blog posts; one from Paul W. Hruz, Lawrence S. Mayer & Paul R. McHugh and another from Mayer and McHugh. Obviously these have not been subjected to peer review.

Of the four doctors, Grossman is the only one who claims to have treated patients related to this litigation. She makes no reference to either gender dysphoria or transgender youth but offers vague statements about “students who were conflicted about their gender identity” (at UCLA) and (at a clinic)“ patients who struggled with their identity as male or female.” She will not be subjected to the kind of questioning that the expert witnesses, Dr. Paul Hruz and Dr. Allan M. Josephson, faced.

In brief, the arguments are:
A child’s gender identity has no bearing on his or her sex.
Agreed. Gender does not change chromosomes. Nevertheless the claim is irrelevant.
Gender Dysphoria is a psychological disorder marked by confusion and distress about one’s sex.
Nonsense. Grossman knows better. Gender dysphoria is a condition, not a disorder. Moreover, “confusion” is religious language (conservative Christians are determined to call gender dysphoria gender confusion). Also, were I to write a short description it would be “marked by incongruent sex and gender causing distress.”
There is no scientific or medical support for treating gender dysphoric children in accordance with their gender identity rather than their sex.
According to these people gender affirmation is comparable to the irrational desire for limb amputation. Seriously! That is what the brief says. Utterly preposterous. The paper by the American Academy of Pediatrics offers both medical and scientific support. Moreover, Dr. Kristina Olson, head of the Trans Youth Project at University of Washington has authored a number of peer-reviewed studies confirming the benefits of gender affirmation.

What is completely lacking in support is an alternative to gender affirmation. Amici offer no clues in that regard.
Gender-affirming policies generally harm, rather than help, gender-dysphoric children.
In this regard they quote ACPeds which has never researched the issue. ACPeds exists to provide support for Christian scripture while desperately trying to appear to be secular:
There is an obvious self-fulfilling nature to encouraging young [gender-dysphoric] children to impersonate the opposite sex and then institute pubertal suppression. If a boy who questions whether or not he is a boy (who is meant to grow into a man) is treated as a girl, then has his natural pubertal progression to manhood suppressed, have we not set in motion an inevitable outcome? All of his same sex peers develop into young men, his opposite sex friends develop into young women, but he remains a pre-pubertal boy. He will be left psycho-socially isolated and alone.
That is not the science. Moreover, it fails to note that there are varying degrees of gender dysphoria and that a teen who transition does so because he or she is in severe distress. They pose no scientifically valid alternative to gender affirmation to relieve that distress.

The brief attempts to make hay of Paul McHugh's theory about plasticity. McHugh claims that if a child is allowed to transition he or she will become permanently transgender. The basis for the theory is really an attempt to counter the very low desistance rates of transitioned children.

The extremely high desistance rates that these people cite are largely based on children who were never transgender in the first place. (It is also based on four old and inapplicable studies.) Again, this is a condition with varying degrees of severity. Kids who insist on transitioning are usually in considerable distress. It is common sense that they are usually going to do what gives them relief which is unlikely to change.

They also indulge in the selective observation of suicide rates depicted in that Swedish study of post-op transgender people. They somehow, sort of forgot — it slipped their mind — to mention that some of the subjects in that study had surgery more than 40 years ago.
CONCLUSION

Gender-affirmation treatments and the related school policies such as those demanded here assume that treating gender-dysphoric children to affirm their self-proclaimed gender identity rather than their sex is ultimately beneficial to them. But there is no scientific evidence to support that assumption; on the contrary, the evidence shows that affirming the mistaken belief that a child is a prisoner of the wrong body is ultimately harmful to that child.

Amici agree with the American College of Pediatricians’ conclusion …
Relying on ACpeds for scientific evidence is like relying on a paper published to Stormfront about race relations. ACPeds is not a medical association. It is a Christian organization which got its start in opposing gay parenting.

Overall, this is a 34 page brief. I have tried to provide some relevance in a relatively small amount of space. I believe that I have been fairly representative.

As for Dr. Miriam Grossman, we can judge her by the company that she keeps (she is abetting a hate group). Also, she has signed onto a brief that is intellectually dishonest on its face. There is no real interest in benefiting anyone — certainly not LGBT adolescents as claimed. The real objective of this brief is to give religious objections a secular patina. Religious conservatives object to the very existence of LGBT people.

These cranks offer reparative therapy voodoo as justification for blanket disapproval and shame. So, to summarize: Based on ancient texts of disputable provenance (including the Torah) these people disapprove of LGBT people. In order to assert that their god is not responsible for having made them in the first place, they support discredited gay and transgender conversion therapy as medical science when it is obviously a religious artifice.

Their alternative is that LGBT people should be miserable. Gay people should be celibate and people with gender dysphoria should never transition in spite of the relief that they realize through doing so. Suffering is beneficial. Their god appreciates suffering and rewards its victims in the afterlife.

Not surprisingly, none of this makes any sense to real medical professionals. People like Dr. Grossman have relevance and credibility comparable to Creation scientists (which is a contradiction in terms). In both cases proponents reject evidence-based science while advocating for pseudoscientific beliefs.
———
On a slightly related note I finally watched Boy Erased, a true story exposing the absurdity of Christian pray-away-the-gay programs and just how toxic they are. I was prepared to be infuriated. My anger swelled and tears came to my eyes at one point. What I was unprepared for was the 300+ pound Sumo wrestler impersonating Russell Crowe who played the boy's father. It's not what we are accustomed to.

Seriously, the script is masterfully crafted and the performances are superb. If you have not seen the movie it is available on Amazon's streaming video service.

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