woody zimmermann 120Legendary wit Will Rogers famously said, “Whenever the Congress cracks a joke, it turns into a law…” If he were around today, (the original) Mr. Rogers might amend that to include “whenever the president cracks a joke...” The current case in point is President Obama’s executive “diktat,” ordering public school systems to allow any student to use the restroom or locker-room corresponding to the gender with which he/she (or other) identifies. Nicknamed the Potty Policy (i.e., PP) in some circles, the order includes an ominous warning that school systems found to be non-compliant with this expanded non-discrimination policy could be denied federal education funds.

Firmly in the center of this controversy stands the state of North Carolina. On March 23, 2016, Governor Pat McCrory signed into law the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which applies to students at all North Carolina public schools. The law requires use of public restrooms or locker-rooms that correspond to a person’s biological sex. It overturned an anti-LGBT discrimination ordinance that had been passed by Charlotte, NC, and prohibits any local government in the state from enacting a similar ordinance.

It was undoubtedly the North Carolina law which prompted Mr. Obama to issue his ground-breaking – some say “non-Constitutional” – order changing the terms under which federal education funds can be denied to a state. In response, several state governors and education officials have announced their opposition to the order and their intention to fight it with every means at their disposal.

When I wrote “Potties, Currency and Other Distractions” a few weeks ago, I made some tongue-in-cheek comments about the potty-issue being a “distraction” intended to take voters’ attention off the serious policy issues at stake in the presidential campaigns. In passing, I noted that “…Roman emperors offered ‘bread and circuses’ to distract the masses. We offer no food – only idiotic controversies over men using the ladies’ restroom (or vice-versa)…” And I suggested that the whole thing was just some silly “…gag dreamed up by stoned frat boys in a late-night bull session.” I couldn’t believe officials anywhere were taking it seriously. (I still can’t.)

As they say, that was then, and this is now. I wrote those mocking statements before Mr. Obama elevated this absurdity to a national “cause célèbre” – never dreaming that public policy would actually be based on a delusion that defies biological realities.

Dr. Paul R. McHugh is the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital, and is its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry. He is the author of six books and at least 125 peer-reviewed medical articles. In a Wall Street Journal article last June, Dr. McHugh stated that:

  • transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment;
  • sex change is “biologically impossible;”
  • and “people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.”

His view – although “politically incorrect” in today’s bizarre, deluded, extreme-sexuality political environment – is shared by the great majority of medical experts in the field. They note that the chromosome arrangement which determines an individual’s sexuality cannot be altered. A man can’t be changed into a fully functioning woman, nor can the reverse be accomplished. Sensational “tabloid” stories notwithstanding, neither of these sexual transformations has ever been made. They are simply impossible.

In his article of June 2, 2015 – Johns Hopkins Psychiatrist: Transgender is ‘Mental Disorder;' Sex Change ‘Biologically Impossible – experienced writer Michael W. Chapman included these additional statements about Dr. McHugh’s work and conclusions. Instead of excerpting them, I present them essentially as written in Mr. Chapman’s excellent piece. They are devastatingly apropos to this issue:

“Transgender surgery is not the solution for people who suffer a “disorder of ‘assumption’” – the notion that their maleness or femaleness is different than what nature assigned to them biologically.

“… a new study [shows] that the suicide rate among transgendered people who had reassignment surgery is 20 times higher than the suicide rate among non-transgender people. Dr. McHugh noted studies from Vanderbilt University and London’s Portman Clinic of children who had expressed transgender feelings but for whom, over time, 70%-80% ‘spontaneously lost those feelings.’

“‘While the Obama administration, Hollywood, and major media such as Time magazine promote transgenderism as normal,’ said Dr. McHugh, these ‘policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken – it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.’

“The transgendered person’s ‘disorder,’ said Dr. McHugh, is in the person’s ‘assumption’ that they [sic] are different than the physical reality of their body, their maleness or femaleness, as assigned by nature. It is a disorder similar to a ‘dangerously thin’ person suffering from anorexia who looks in the mirror and thinks they [sic] are ‘overweight,’ said McHugh.

“This assumption, that one’s gender is only in the mind regardless of anatomical reality, has led some transgendered people to push for social acceptance and affirmation of their own subjective ‘personal truth,’ said Dr. McHugh. As a result, some states – California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts – have passed laws barring psychiatrists, ‘…even with parental permission, from striving to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor,’ he said.

“The pro-transgender advocates do not want to know, said McHugh, that studies show between 70% and 80% of children who express transgender feelings ‘spontaneously lose those feelings’ over time. Also, for those who had sexual reassignment surgery, most said they were ‘satisfied’ with the operation, ‘but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a satisfied but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs,’ said Dr. McHugh.

“The former Johns Hopkins chief of psychiatry also warned against enabling or encouraging certain subgroups of the transgendered, such as young people susceptible to suggestion from ‘everything is normal’ sex education, and the schools’ ‘diversity counselors’ who, like ‘cult leaders,’ may encourage these young people to distance themselves from their families and offer advice on rebutting arguments against having transgender surgery.

“Dr. McHugh also reported that there are ‘misguided doctors’ who, working with very young children who seem to imitate the opposite sex, will administer ‘puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgeries less onerous – even though the drugs stunt the children’s growth and risk causing sterility. Such action comes ‘…close to child abuse, given that close to 80% of those kids will “abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated….’

“‘Sex change’ is biologically impossible,’ said McHugh. ‘People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is a civil-rights matter, and encouraging surgical intervention, is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.’”

Adding to this calumny, the Obama administration has announced that Medicare will now cover transgender surgical procedures. Naturally, both Dr. McHugh and Mr. Chapman have been denounced as “homophobes” by outraged gay activists who do not want to be confused by any facts.

Long ago Charles Dickens wrote (of another era), “It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times…” We, too, are in a time that can be described in those terms. On one hand we are, in the main, a strong, free and prosperous people. Ordinary persons of humble birth can still rise to become educated, successful and even wealthy. Millions of citizens live lives filled with loving family, productive work, and dignified retirement. Society has adjusted itself to furnish opportunity for a vastly diverse citizenry whose members can obtain decent work regardless of their race, color, national origin or sex. We are still a beacon of hope for oppressed people all over the world. As individuals, most of us have learned to tolerate many different styles of life, even if we disagree with or disapprove of them. All of these are good things – devoutly to be embraced and highly valued. We are the envy of the world for the freedom we enjoy to live, work, and worship as we see fit.

But there is almost always a “fly” in this blissful “ointment” of contentment, freedom and productivity. Something unpleasant usually has a way of intruding and messing things up. The transgender restroom-accommodation issue looks like it might be our latest fly-in-the-ointment. It’s a nuisance all right, but it isn’t really the problem. Instead, it’s a symptom of the problem. The guillotine wasn’t really the problem in the era Charles Dickens wrote of. The real problem was tyranny. Just so, ladies’ restrooms being invaded by men pretending they “feel” like a woman is not the real problem. The real issue is, once again, tyranny. People are unnerved and upset because an unaccountable president – acting as if he were king – is issuing disruptive orders to which they have had no input and against which they seem to have no power to resist.

People are certainly right that they have had no influence in creating the new “potty rules” for their schools. But they are mistaken about lacking power to resist them. Their remedy is simple, powerful and time-honored. It harks back to how this country came about in the first place. It is massive disobedience. It is bound to prevail in a free society. The strategy for resisting the president’s overreaching “diktat” on school restrooms and locker-rooms would consist of three parts:

  1. Ignore the order. Every state, locality and school system should simply decline to do as the president has ordered. Formal declarations can be made, or not made, at the discretion of local officials. But no applications should be submitted for an “exemption” or “waiver.” The order is based on a political fantasy. As Dr. McHugh has so powerfully described, there is no scientific basis for it. It is the equivalent of government declaring that sawdust is flour and can be sold as such. A government “order” cannot make it so, and citizens need not obey it.
  2. If federal funds are cut off, broadcast that fact and bring suit in federal court. The president’s actions are unconstitutional. He has no power to change the terms of existing law, and his order is not a law unless We, The People allow it to be. Outside of a corrupt court, there is no way such a denial of funds can stand. And the harsh light of public opinion will finish it. Let the sunshine in.
  3. Parental-withdrawal of students from any schools that attempt to follow the president’s order. There is always strength in numbers. Hundreds or thousands of students quitting public schools would get officials’ attention. It’s also doubtful that state authorities would be very enthused about handling thousands of “truancy” cases over this matter. Things would turn around in a hurry.

If history teaches anything, it absolutely hammers the lesson that people can remain free only if they resist tyranny whenever it rears its snakish head. It can never be allowed to incubate and grow into an uncontrollable monster. Americans have been asleep at the switch throughout the Obama regime – perhaps thinking that presidential-overreach will not affect them. They should be able to see, now, that they have been mistaken. It’s time to act.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)