Specifically, the organization disputes that people can be transgender, adding that widespread acceptance of trans people amounts to child abuse. The statement also claims that transgender people are mentally ill.
“A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking,” the statement reads, adding that “when an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body and it should be treated as such.”
Many of the claims in the ACPeds statement are, as ThinkProgress noted, myths. Such anti-trans rhetoric also isn’t new. In fact, it is part of an ongoing crusade against LGBT people, which often include amicus briefs in court cases and statements like this latest one.
ACPeds was founded in 2002 by a small breakaway group of about 60 ultra-conservatives from the 60,000-plus member American Academy of Pediatrics, the foremost national professional organization regarding pediatrics in the country. Initially, the group was formed as a protest to AAP’s support of LGBT adoption rights. In the 14 years since its founding, ACPeds has continued to pump out demonizing pseudoscience and falsehoods about LGBT people, often parroting Paul Cameron, and calling homosexual relationships promiscuous, a danger to children, unstable, and claiming that LGBT people experience “shortened lifespans.”
The statement is jut the latest salvo in the anti-LGBT’s continued battle against LGBT people, which has recently turned to specifically target trans people through a spate of “bathroom bills” and the passage of a law in North Carolina’s that bans trans people from using public restrooms that correspond to the gender with which they identify.
One of the signatories of the ACPeds’ anti-trans statement is Paul McHugh, a retired University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School. McHugh has held anti-trans views for years, disavowing healthcare options for trans people and pushing ideas like “autogynephilia” – the idea that trans women’s identities are predicated on sexual arousal with the idea of themselves as women.
According to McHugh, trans people should be treated as disordered, like people with anorexia nervosa.
“Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery or hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction,” he wrote last year in an article titled “Transgender: A Pathogenic Meme.” Rather, “the treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it.”
McHugh, a noted Catholic conservative, was a key figure in pushing his beliefs that transgender identity does not merit surgery or medical treatment, but rather should be dealt with as mental illness. He spent a good deal of his career at John Hopkins as chair of the department of psychiatry and shut down the gender identity clinic at Johns Hopkins in 1979.
Some of his other views have also garnered public controversy. He was a defender of Catholic priests in the sex abuse scandals of the 1990s, and was appointed by the church in 2002 amidst much criticism to a lay council to resolve the sex abuse problem.
Another statement signer is Rhode Island pediatrician Michelle Cretella, ACPeds’ current president. In 2013, she stated that she was a member of the board of directors of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group now known as the NARTH Institute or Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity. The group seeks to legitimize the discredited and pseudoscientific practice of so-called “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy.
In 2009, Cretella published an article she co-wrote with Arthur Goldberg, the founder and director of now-defunct “ex-gay” therapy outlet Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), which was found guilty of consumer fraud in a lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center and forced to close.
In the article, the authors claimed that gay people are inherently promiscuous and unstable, and that allowing same-sex people to marry endangers the common good.
Cretella was also a board member of anti-LGBT group National Organization of Marriage-Rhode Island. In 2014, she was slated to speak at Providence College in 2014, but her appearance was postponed after questions about her views arose.
The third signatory is Quentin Van Meter, vice president of ACPeds and a pediatric endocrinologist based in Atlanta. Van Meter cancelled his 37-year membership in the American Academy of Pediatrics because of its inclusive stance regarding LGBT people.
Groups like ACPeds and its supporters have been pushing the idea that any kind of gender variance or expression is a mental illness, and it must be discouraged, especially when it comes to children.
Under the veneer of a professional organization with a professional-sounding name, ACPeds finds a ready and willing audience in the right-wing echo chamber, no matter the falsehoods and pseudoscience it continues to peddle. Look for a longer statement about “gender ideology” this summer, according to the group’s website.