©Deirdre Nansen McCloskey | COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL

Follow-up to article on Spitzer

by Deirdre McCloskey
New York Times
18 May 2012
Filed under gender crossing

Dr. Robert L. Spitzer
On May 18, 2012 the New York Times reported on an admission of error by Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, the father of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of psychiatry. In 1999 Dr. Spitzer had concluded on the basis of careless telephone interviews that "reparative" therapy for homosexuality was a good idea. His article has been used widely since then by homophobic organizations. Now, dying of Parkinson's disease, Dr. Spitzer has had second thoughts. Here is the comment that Deirdre made on line when the story broke:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — The Book that Dr. Spitzer made — still treats changing gender as a disorder. In contrast to the liberating of gays in 1973 from psychiatric supervision, The Book has become more not less extreme on gender crossing. Dr. Kenneth Zucker (significantly, reported in the story as a close friend of Dr. Spitzer) was recently put in charge of the committee to revise the rules. He made them more trans-phobic. Reason? Dr. Zucker has long believed in reparative "therapy" for intended gender crossers — precisely the "therapy" that Dr. Spitzer is now apologizing for. Dr. Zucker runs a "treatment" center in Toronto which is the terror of trans people, and he has aggressively promoted his views, routinely violating norms of refereeing of articles, through a handful of disciples such as Michael Bailey (who believes gays want to be girls) and Alice Dreger (who believes that anyone who alters anything is sick). When Zucker was appointed to chair the committee, thousands of transgendered people petitioned the American Psychiatric Association to reconsider, with no result. As the story suggested, we have a case here that might be added to future editions of The Book: Careerism-Regardless-of-Human-Rights. Treatment? Reparative, a therapy that we can conclude on the basis of a sample size of one (Dr. Spitzer) appears to be beneficial, at any rate with a lag of a decade.