Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A Shick-Fit Offers an Opportunity

Being LGBT is not unhealthy. Bigotry and persecution are unhealthy for LGBT people.
Denise Shick
Denise Shick | via YouTube
Monday, Denise Shick wrote: Loving homosexuals, transgenders means telling them the dangers of LGBT behavior. Shick regurgitates lore about the health of LGBT people as a means of justifying discrimination. If gay people, for example, disproportionately suffer from [fill in the blank] then Shick's solution is for people to stop being gay. I suppose that they are expected to pray their gay away. Shick is kind enough to link to her sources which provides an opportunity for exploration. Suffice it to say that:
Loving LGBT people means accepting them for who they are!
It might also mean treating the words homosexual and transgender as the adjectives that they are rather than as nouns.

In the way of background, Denise Shick is an anti-LGBT warrior who had a transgender father. Apparently he was a crappy parent. That has made her an expert worthy of Jack Turban at Harvard Medical School.

In her current piece Ms. Shick is complaining about the reaction to some to the intellectually dishonest commentary from conservative Christians regarding California Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99. ACR-99 is a nonbinding resolution encouraging clergy to cease their embrace of conversion therapy and pray-the-gay-away efforts. There is no sense repeating what I have already written on that subject. It amounts to defending the lie of conversion therapy with more lies.

Shick ends up here:
Christians oppose to [sic] affirming homosexuality and transgenderism as normative. Yes, a primary reason is the Bible’s plainly stated opposition. There is no point in reiterating the much debated passages again here. But, apart from the Bible, let’s examine some facts — as opposed to the many suppositions within ACR-99 — about the gay and transgender lifestyles.
The word Christians should be preceded with the word “literalist” because the overwhelming majority of Christians subscribe to the overwhelming consensus of science that sexual orientation and gender are continua providing normal variants of human sexuality across their scales.

The Bible says nothing about being transgender and the prohibition on gay sex reflects the times in which the Bible was written. Same-sex sex was between heterosexual men of stature and young slave boys they owned. That activity was unquestionably immoral.

The first fact that Ms. Shick should try to accept is that sexuality and lifestyle are two different things. In my experience lifestyle is a function of things like one's occupation, pastimes, tastes and income.

Let us wander through other things that Shick presents as fact:
I left the links intact. So let's take these one at a time:

Shorter lifespans: The link is to a 2007 article in LifesiteNews titled: “Expert Research Finds Homosexuality More Dangerous Than Smoking.” Do tell. The “expert,” as you might have guessed, was the thoroughly discredited Paul Cameron who was expelled from the American Psychological Association for frustrating an ethics investigation. Needless to say, the “expert research” was not published to a peer-reviewed academic journal.

To this day, some gullible people (including Denise Shick) still believe that “[a]ccording to the Cameron research, married gays and lesbians lived 24 fewer years than their conventionally married counterparts.” It doesn't even make sense.

More sexually transmitted infections: Yup, it is true. Gay men have much higher rates of STDs than the general population, at least as of 2014. There are several contributing factors. Among these are economic disparities affecting health care making gay men less likely to be vaccinated against hepatitis and HPV.

More importantly, research demonstrates that viral passage is more dependent upon its source than sexual orientation. For example, in the United States HIV first spread among the gay community. In Africa, HIV is a heterosexual disease because it was first spread among heterosexuals. We are still passing around viruses that first appeared in the gay community 50 years ago. The solution? Wear rubbers.

General health problems: The link is to a 2018 article in PsychCentral which is a website in contrast to an academic journal. It refers to a 2007 UK study. Rather than “general health” the survey dealt with emotional health. According to the paper:
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation predicted certain neurotic disorder outcomes, even after adjustment for potentially confounding variables. 

In other words, Ms. Shick is contributing to a problem that she attributes to LGBT people.

In 2003, Dr. Ilan Meyer at Columbia University came to the same conclusions. He attributed the findings to minority stress. In essence, the religious right oppresses LGBT people causing minority stress which negatively affects psychological well being. That effect, in turn, is used to further oppress the same population. That is exactly what Shick is doing. It creates a self-propelled syndrome.

As a community we are paying ever less attention to the personality disordered ravings of religious cranks. We are experiencing less discrimination in many locales. We are also improving our employment and economic prospects yielding better insurance and better health care.

Yet there are still many awful places for LGBT people such as Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Part of the solution is to further marginalize the religious right, not so as to persecute them but in terms of separating faith-based belief systems from evidence-based science. Ms. Shick, for example, is merging the two together.

If evangelical Christians presume expertise in Baptist theology, that just fine with me. However, when those same people suggest that they have expertise in human sexuality they should have the credibility of an incarcerated con artist.

From my personal experience, being in the closet for much of my career took a real toll on my mental health. In spite of many successes, I could be erratic and even irrational. Moreover those conditions took years to abate even when I was able to work openly. In most of America it is now possible for openly gay people to have meaningful careers. Transgender people still face enormous employment challenges.

Significantly higher abuse rates than in the general population: The link is to a very lengthy 2009 Massachusetts health survey. The word “abuse” appears nowhere in the text. I do not know what she is referring to. I also cannot assess the relevance of a data set from more than 10 years ago. Among the summary items is this:
The health of lesbian, gay people is comparable to that of heterosexual respondents. However, lesbians were less likely to have routine pap tests compared with their heterosexual female counterparts.

Transgender persons had worse outcomes with respect to self‐reported health, disability status, depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, and lifetime violence victimization.
The same thing (according to the report) is true with respect to intimate partner violence (which is what I think Shick might be referring to). Levels for gay and straight people are comparable. Transgender people suffer much higher rates of intimate partner violence than the general population. I lack the qualifications to explain this phenomenon and I will not try.

However, it is important to point out that people do not volunteer to be transgender. They are transgender because they suffer from gender dysphoria for which there is no available treatment. Affirming one's gender mitigates at least some of the symptoms which can include severe depression and anxiety.

Not being transgender is not an option. Desistence would mean the return of conditions that cause people to become transgender in the first place. People should not unnecessarily suffer to appease religious cranks who should have no standing in the first place.

Transgender people comprise a very vulnerable population which is deprived of many of the economic opportunities others have. This, in turn, affects insurance coverage, health care quality and health care access.

Denise Shick appears to be in her 40s. The fact that she had a transgender father does not mean that she has the first clue about transgender people overall.

Short-lived relationships: The link is to a 2003 piece in the Washington Times aka The Moonie Daily.
A recent study on homosexual relationships finds they last 1-1/2 years on average — even as homosexual groups are pushing nationwide to legalize same-sex “marriages.”

The study of young Dutch homosexual men by Dr. Maria Xiridou of the Amsterdam Municipal Health Service, published in May in the journal AIDS, mirrors findings of past research.
This study garnered Evangelical Christian attention as a means of dishonestly thwarting marriage equality. Chances are pretty good that Ms. Shick read only the article in the Washington Times which was published for that very purpose. Chances are minuscule that she read the actual paper.

The intended inference is that this was a study of relationships. It was not. Nor was it designed as such. Although the religious right has echoed this as gospel for nearly 20 years, the actual title of the study was The contribution of steady and casual partnerships in the incidence of HIV infection among homosexual men in Amsterdam.

This was a rolling study beginning in 1984 and the sample was designed around the title. By 1995, men over 30 were eliminated retroactively and from further study. A 25 year old, for example, has a maximum adult relationship potential of only seven years. In contrast, a 50 year old has a maximum adult relationship potential of 32 years.

For most of the study years, all of the subjects were HIV positive. The study also excluded monogamous couples which exaggerates the rate of multiple relationships. Furthermore, study participants were exclusively Amsterdam residents or people being treated in Amsterdam AIDS clinics. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. This was strictly an urban study.

This was important research at the time. It has no value whatsoever as a relationship study. It was not designed for that purpose. It certainly had no bearing on marriage equality.
In conclusion:
Denise Shick is not worthy of attention. However, her treatise offers some insight into some common mythical beliefs of conservative Christians. Those same Christians create some of the conditions that they attribute to LGBT people. Being LGBT is not unhealthy. Bigotry and persecution are unhealthy for LGBT people.

At particular risk are our transgender and gender nonconforming brothers and sisters. They are coming out earlier in life which is good for their overall mental health but it makes them potentially more vulnerable. Trans kids deserved the opportunities that the Obama administration provided in public schools. The Trump administration has rolled those back in order to appease the same Christians who oppress those children.

Making those kids less comfortable in public schools is not going to cause them to become cisgender. Nor will it cause fewer children with gender incongruity to avoid gender affirmation because medical science is indifferent to the politics. The science is on the right track.

At the risk of sounding like a relentlessly nagging Jewish mother, the only way to change the politics is to make sure that you are registered to vote, that you have accumulated whatever documents are required to vote and then that you actually vote — every damned year. Future cashews are running for the school board now. Just do it!

By the way, I make a great chicken soup.

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