• No, Ben Shapiro, Transgenderism Is not a Mental Disorder

    This week, Ben Shapiro posted a list of all the dumb stuff he’s done, breaking it all down in four categories, one of them being “Stuff the Left just doesn’t like very much that happens to be true”.

    In that category, he claims this:

    Transgenderism Is A Mental Disorder. I haven’t been unclear about this. Transgenderism is a mental condition. It is not about societal construction of gender identity or social disapproval of those who don’t “act like us.” If you are a biological man and you believe you are a woman, you suffer from a mental disorder.


    None of this is an argument for mistreatment of people who suffer from this mental disorder. Far from it. But pretending that male and female are completely malleable categories is a total and absolute, anti-scientific lie.

    I don’t care about this being a right-wing or left-wing issue. I care about this being a testable claim; and as far as I can tell, Shapiro’s claim is demonstrably false.

    Let’s start with the mental disorder claim. I didn’t know Shapiro was a trained psychiatrist or an expert in abnormal psychology, but in case he missed class that day, here’s a reminder — in order to diagnose a mental disorder the patient usually needs to meet a four points criteria:

  • Psychological dysfunction: which means a breakdown in cognitive, emotional or behavioral functioning.
  • Personal distress: which means disliking how they feel.
  • Impairment: the condition must be interfering with the personal, occupational, academic, and/or social endeavors.
  • Atypical response: violating a social or cultural norm.
  • I am going out on a limb here and guess there are transgender folks out there that do not suffer a psychological dysfunction, and their gender does not cause them any personal distress whatsoever. So… no mental disorder.

    So what about gender dysphoria? It is a clinically significant distress that transgender people may feel. And some feel it, but some do not.

    To sum up: some transgender suffer a mental disorder, and some transgender are in perfect mental health. Not all transgender feel a clinically significant distress.

    Back to my educated guesses, it wouldn’t be outlandish to think that labeling all transgender people as mentally ill could increase the risk of suffering gender dysphoria. If Shapiro really believes that people suffering from mental disorders should not be mistreated —as he claims—, he might as well stop helping drive those numbers up.

    Now, for the biology part, Shapiro seems to have taken a page from the SJW playbook, merging in his mind biological sex with gender identity. But they are different. And gender identity does exist independently from the chromosomes and genitalia.

    There are biological differences between cisgender people and transgender people. For instance, just to name a couple of facts, the brains of trans people showed brain structures typical of the gender they identified with (not the one assigned at birth); and some aspects of transgender women’s hypothalamus functioning are similar to those typical of cisgender women.

    Now, I would contend that “pretending that male and female are completely malleable categories” is an anti-scientific lie as much as claiming that male and female are completely fixed and discreet categories — they’re not; the categories are in our minds, to help us understand the world around us, but biology is a little bit more complicated than that: we know for a fact that the genitals and the brain don’t get their male-or-female traits at the same stage of development, and that there could be hormone fluctuations that account for the organs’ mismatch.

    In his list, Shapiro said he was happy to admit to making mistakes whenever they were pointed to him so, you know, it would be nice of him to admit he was wrong to claim transgenderism is a mental disorder, but I’m not holding my breath — or maybe I’m the one in the wrong, and he’ll provide a myriad of peer-reviewed papers published in long-standing journals with high impact factor and the diagnoses of every single transgender person in the world, proving they all suffer a clinically significant distress.

    (image: HLN)

    Category: Skepticism and Science


    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker