156 - "WPATH Has No Respect for Medical Ethics" with Mia Hughes

Unveiling WPATH: Political Activism vs. Patient Care

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In this episode, Sasha and Stella welcome Mia Hughes to the show for a chilling exploration of the controversial realm of transgender healthcare through the lens of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and its influence on the treatment of trans identified individuals. 

“There's no greater indication that this is a group that has totally lost its ethical compass and has no concern whatsoever for this patient cohort that it claims to be serving.”

Mia Hughes is an Ottawa-based journalist primarily covering the gender issue for Environmental Progress (EP), with a particular focus on the controversy of pediatric medical transition and how trans rights collide with the rights of women and the LGB community. She also researches media bias and other issues for EP as well. She previously covered the gender issue for The Post Millennial and has been published in The Critic, Lesbian and Gay News, and Gender Dissent. Mia is a British mother of three living in Ottawa, Canada, and before becoming a journalist was a teacher. 

This conversation covers WPATH's evolution from a medical organization to an activist-driven group. Mia speaks to how the leaked WPATH files expose prioritization of activism over patient care, stifling open debate about treatment options. The conversation also delves into the influence of WPATH on medical guidelines and the challenges of patient-led care.

Mia shares a little bit about how she became involved in gender issues, reflecting back on her reactions to J.K. Rowling’s (not so) controversial tweets. She talks us through her transition from teaching to becoming a full-time writer covering gender-related issues, and ultimately her collaboration with Michael Shellenberger.

A highlight from the episode is the exploration of the similarities between historical medical scandals, such as lobotomies, ovariotomies, and apotemnophilia, along with the current controversy surrounding pediatric gender medicine. There is an emphasis on the role of social contagion and the dangers of pseudoscientific ideas driving medical practices. 

Mia references Ian Hacking's concept of ecological niche of transient mental illnesses and explains how the modern trans rights movement creates a cultural environment conducive to gender dysphoria. They also discuss the exportation of Western mental health narratives and its effects on global populations. The conversation explores the extraordinary procedures recommended by WPATH as being extreme body modifications, raising questions about medical ethics. They even get into how the desire for some men to transition to women, rooted in a long-standing historical context, is distinct from the distress experienced by young girls fixated on their bodies, yet both issues intersect within the broader discourse on gender dysphoria but require distinctly differing ethical and medical considerations.

“We're creating bodies that don't exist in nature”

It’s a remarkable context for spotlighting how cultural narratives surrounding gender dysphoria further contribute to its complexity and impact, but the potential for change lies in a societal shift towards reality-based approaches. 

This episode proves to be yet another conversation to add to the collection uncovering flaws and biases within pediatric gender medicine and the need for evidence-based approaches.

Resources & Links

Mia on X(Twitter) @_CryMiaRiver


J.K. Rowling’s Tweet

Ian Hacking has written extensively on the idea of transient mental illnesses, social constructionism, and the intersection of psychiatry and culture. Some of his notable works include:

Ethan Watters is an American journalist and author known for his exploration of cultural influences on psychology and mental health. His book "Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche" investigates how Western psychiatric diagnoses and treatments are shaping mental illness perceptions worldwide. He examines phenomena like eating disorders in non-Western cultures, highlighting the impact of Westernization on mental health narratives globally.

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If you liked this episode, more episodes you might find interesting include:

Pioneers Series PlaylistGender: A Wider Lens episodes featuring conversations with key figures in the history of gender distress, gender medicine, and gender transition.

Gender: A Wider Lens
Gender: A Wider Lens
Therapists Stella O’Malley and Sasha Ayad explore diverse perspectives through a psychological lens, fostering open dialogue on gender identity, transition, and the transgender umbrella. Their work with gender dysphoric clients and unique experiences yield an informed outlook delving into gender's psychological nuances. Interviews with clinicians, academics, transgender individuals, parents, detransitioners, and others touched by gender provide varied insights and intimate inquiry into the taboo yet relevant topic.