Johns Hopkins was an early pioneer in American trans care until anti-LGBT activist Paul McHugh began working at the hospital. In 1979, McHugh was able to end trans care at Johns Hopkins and later wrote that it was his goal to force the closure of the hospital’s gender program saying, “It was part of my intention, when I arrived in Baltimore in 1975, to help end it.” McHugh went on to describe his professional assessment of how and why transgender medical care was made available at Johns Hopkins:
The zeal for this sex-change surgery–perhaps, with the exception of frontal lobotomy, the most radical therapy ever encouraged by twentieth century psychiatrists–did not derive from critical reasoning or thoughtful assessments. These were so faulty that no one holds them up anymore as standards for launching any therapeutic exercise, let alone one so irretrievable as a sex-change operation. The energy came from the fashions of the seventies that invaded the clinic–if you can do it and he wants it, why not do it? It was all tied up with the spirit of doing your thing, following your bliss, an aesthetic that sees diversity as everything and can accept any idea, including that of permanent sex change, as interesting and that views resistance to such ideas as uptight if not oppressive. Moral matters should have some salience here.
Compare McHugh’s fact assertions about the genesis of the Johns Hopkins’ program with the way the program’s creator, Dr. John E. Hoopes, described the program in 1966:
After exhaustively reviewing the available literature and discussing the problem with people knowledgeable in the area. I arrived at the unavoidable conclusion that these people need and deserve help… Over the years, psychiatrists have tried repeatedly to treat these people without surgery, and the conclusion is inescapable that psychotherapy has not so far solved the problem.
Anti-trans activists have, for decades, cited McHugh’s closure of Johns Hopkins’ gender program as “proof” that whatever anti-trans trope they were pushing (usually to a credulous reporter) was evidence-based or reasonable. Today, the Catholic News Agency earnestly told their readers, “Johns Hopkins University, once a pioneer in sex reassignment surgery, has since ended the practice, finding that it was actually damaging to those who undergo it.” Recently, news cited a (non-peer reviewed) “study” that had Johns Hopkins’ name attached to it as yet more proof that it’s unethical to provide trans medical care. Unfortunately for McHugh and other anti-trans activists, Johns Hopkins has announced that it is strongly committed to providing trans care, including trans surgery, and that it’s committing to being an LGBT-affirming provider of care.
What follows are two letters that are being distributed among the Johns Hopkins faculty members:
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