McLaurin Apologizes for “Circus Freak” Comment
April 20, 2011
Flushing the Potty Panic
June 21, 2011

Reparative Therapy for Trans Youth: Kenneth Zucker is Different from George Rekers How?

Watching this recent CNN story on reparative therapy and the damage it did to George Reker’s poster child (Kirk Andrew Murphy), I was struck by the similarity of this story and a child that NPR covered about childhood gender identity issues. “Bradley” was treated by Kenneth Zucker for gender identity disorder. Does this:

“So, to treat Bradley, Zucker explained to Carol that she and her husband would have to radically change their parenting. Bradley would no longer be allowed to spend time with girls. He would no longer be allowed to play with girlish toys or pretend that he was a female character. Zucker said that all of these activities were dangerous to a kid with gender identity disorder. He explained that unless Carol and her husband helped the child to change his behavior, as Bradley grew older, he likely would be rejected by both peer groups. Boys would find his feminine interests unappealing. Girls would want more boyish boys. Bradley would be an outcast.”


“‘There was a one-way mirror or one-way window — and some days they would let him choose which table he would go to,’ said Maris, who has read about the experiments.

At one table Kirk could choose between what were considered masculine toys like plastic guns and handcuffs, and what were meant to be feminine toys like dolls and a play crib. At the other table, Kirk could choose between boys’ clothing and a toy electric razor or items like dress-up jewelry and a wig.

According to the case study, Kaytee Murphy was told to ignore her son when he played with feminine toys and compliment him when he played with masculine toys.

‘They pretty much told him he wasn’t right the way that he was, but they never really explained it to him what the issue was. They did it through play,’ Maris said.

Rekers wrote that Kirk would cry out for attention, even throwing tantrums, but Kaytee Murphy was told to keep going.”

look much different? What is the difference between Zucker’s approach to trans kids and Rekers approach to “sissy” boys? Why isn’t Zucker being vilified in the same way that Rekers has been?

Zucker is the chair of a workgroup (Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group) that decides how gender identity issues are defined and categoriezed! In 2010 Andrea James said of the effect of the changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):

“Its negative effects will harm sex and gender minorities well into the 2020s. It will particularly harm an entire generation of transgender youth and intersex people”

One real difference between Zucker and Rekers is of scope. Rekers’ work only effected those who came under his care or came under the care of his NARTH associates. The changes to the DSM will effect any child that is treated for gender identiy issues.

I wish CNN would shine the light on Zucker and the like the same way that they’re shining it on Rekers. We can’t do anything for Kirk, but we can change the world for Bradley and children like him. If only someone would listen….


  1. […] it really wasn’t. Zucker’s clinic was essentially one based on the idea of reparative therapy. I.e. the idea that one can “fix” being trans or being “girlier” or […]

  2. […] even alludes to it, while being so uninformed as to not know Zucker may still be performing this discredited “corrective” on trans kids!) Indeed, Zucker, in an observation that would make Keith Ablow smile, opines that […]

  3. […] continues to be quoted in the mainstream press as an “expert” on trans issues, but is infamous within the trans community for using what many feel to be aversion therapy on children as young as […]

  4. […] continues to be quoted in the mainstream press as an “expert” on trans issues, but is infamous within the trans community for using what many feel to be aversion therapy on children as young as […]

  5. Christine says:

    I have heard Jack Drescher, an openly gay psychiatrist and chair of the 2009 APA report on sexual orientation change efforts, defend Zucker on the Division 44  APA listserv (LGBT) – and I never understood why Drescher would defend him.  I think what both advocate – what is listed above- (whether Rekers or Zucker)  is unethical.

    I have also heard ex-gay therapists use Zucker’s work as support for what they do.  This is very telling.

  6. […] “What had happened was that two 10-year-old boys had thrown him off some playground equipment across the pavement because he’d been playing with a Barbie doll — and they called him a girl,” Carol says. “So that sort of struck me, that, you know, if he doesn’t learn to socialize with both males and females … he was going to get hurt.” [ht Transadvocate] […]

  7. […] people at the hands of non-transgender gays and lesbians. She shared with me a link to the story: Reparative Therapy for Trans Youth: Kenneth Zucker is different from George Rekkers how? It is well worth […]

  8. […] Girls would want more boyish boys. Bradley would be an outcast. [from a 2008 NPR report, ht Transadvocate. Trigger warning for major cissexism and […]

  9. Kat says:

    “Kenneth Zucker is Different from George Rekers How?”

    Well, I think “Zucker” would be a higher word score in Scrabble  than “Rekers.”

    Other than that…………………………………?

  10. Mercedes says:

    Mind if I repost (w/ credit, of course)?

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