The Tale of Two Doctors

There once were two doctors. One was called Ken and the other one was called Ray and they worked in the same place. They tried to understand why some people were the way they were. Ray decided that you were more likely to be gay if you had older brothers. He also decided that trans women were really men who were really excited by the thought of being women or else some kind of gay guy who didn’t know when to stop.

Between them they saw hundreds of trans people and tried to work out where each one fitted. Ken also saw a large number of trans children. Because Ray had said that trans women weren’t really women, Ken thought that trans girls needed to be persuaded to be boys. He started telling trans girls they really had to be boys, and telling their mums and dads that the trans girls shouldn’t be allowed to do anything that was girly.

However, Ray had met a number of trans women who didn’t fit his theory. Ah, he thought, they must be liars, and therefore they must be really excited by thinking they were women. This meant that any trans woman had to be one or the other.

Ray and Ken became quite famous, and a lot of other doctors listened to them about how to treat trans people. Some trans people started to complain – loudly. “What about trans men?” they asked. “Isn’t telling girls they really have to be boys abuse?”

So the people who paid Ken and Ray a lot of money decided to think. After a while they decided that what Ken was doing was wrong and dangerous, so they closed the clinic where both Ray and Ken worked, and said sorry to the children who went there.

Ken seemed pretty angry about this. Well, wouldn’t you be? So he started complaining about the horrid trans people who he said had shut down his clinic. His friend Ray agreed.

Some people with big cameras heard about this. “An argument”, they thought, “this needs to go on the telly.” So they went over with their big cameras and made a film, and persuaded the people with the transmitters to show it. To advertise the film they thought they’d say something like “nasty trans people forced Ken out of his job”. The transmitter people started to realise that wasn’t fair and might not actually be true. After all, a few years earlier they found out that another expert doctor they had shown on the telly turned out not to be an expert at all, so being fair was important. “The film is fair”, they said, before deciding that Ray could go on their news programme the night before the film was to be shown.

Ray was introduced as an expert in what makes men gay. He decided to put the programme straight, and said things like “most children who seem trans when young don’t grow up to be trans”, and “we can’t tell who is going to end up trans and who is going to be normal”, and “we should teach children to be who they are anatomically, but if the children really can’t cope then and only then we can give them some blocker pills”. He interrupted the trans person quite a lot, and didn’t like the things said about his friend Ken. When the trans lady said that about half of trans children are so unhappy that they try ending their own lives, Ray shouted that was wrong – that trans children are no more likely to try to end their lives than anyone else. It was those horrid trans people who were emotionally blackmailing parents into thinking their children were trans, and the telly was very one-sided in supporting trans people.

The problem was that a lot of what Ray said on the telly was wrong. People have already shown that, if you don’t include boys who like playing with dolls or girls who like playing football, most of the remaining trans children do grow up to be trans. Ray had ignored the people who shut the clinic who had said that trying to force children to be one thing or another was child abuse and was very wrong indeed. And people have shown that lots of trans children are very unhappy, and lots do try to end their lives. It’s not that the children are unhappy being trans, but they’re unhappy because everyone else seems to have a problem with them being trans, and this sometimes includes the doctors they see, like Ray and Ken.

Helen is going to see the people with the transmitters tomorrow, and try to tell them why they really shouldn’t show a debate like this any more. The person asking the questions seemed worried that children might be having surgery, or that they couldn’t change their minds. But if she’d done some basic research on computers, she would have known that children can’t have surgery until they’re grown up, and stopping taking the blocker pills was easy and didn’t damage the children at all. So Helen will be asking why this basic research simply wasn’t done, and why the people with transmitters want to keep showing doctors who other doctors have decided can’t be trusted.


  1. Carol Steele · · Reply

    This is brilliant.

  2. Lisa Mullin · · Reply



    Zucker endlessly contradicts himself in his public statements and his (200+) papers.

    He (correctly) stated that internal gender identity forms between 2-5, that someone with gender dysphoria (GD) at the start of puberty will be very unlikely to change, that even his GIC at CAMH prescribed puberty blockers and later HRT to trans adolescents. He also stated that the majority (70%) of the kids they saw did not have GD but were only gender non conforming (GNC) as judged by their parents in some way. Note a stated aim of the GIC was to accept parents fears/wishes and treat the child accordingly, in other words (like intersex kids) the actual child had no say in this.

    Then his ‘methodology’ was based on ‘gay reparative therapy’ techniques developed for so called ‘sissy boys’. This was based on:

    (1) GNC behaviour (whatever that is) seen as the key indicator of being a ‘pre homosexual’, that if this behaviour was stamped out early in life then the person would become straight.

    (2) In fact in 1990s he (and Bradley) claimed that his ‘therapy’ would not only stop a kid from growing up to be transgender but also not to be gay. That part got dropped when it became politically and socially impossible to state it, however the methodology never changed.

    (3) All transgender kids would grow up to be gay/lesbian if they didn’t transition…flying in the face of endless evidence that this is not true. The UK’s Tavistok centre put it as 50% of trans girls were not male attracted and 30% of trans boys not female attracted.

    (4) The ‘treatment’ was a weird mix of behavioural and Freudian ideas (the only difference to what NARTH recommended was that they dropped the Freudian bit). GNC behaviour was punished and conforming behaviour rewarded. While the mother was seen to be a causative factor, by alternatively being: too close, too clingy, too distant, feminist (yes really), man hating (ditto), too domineering ….and all the sorry rest.
    Naturally the only fault of the father was being too distant and not showing ‘proper’ gender stereotypical actions and relations, or in other words he should insist and force proper ‘masculine’ and ’feminine’ behaviour within the family.

    Note how similar that is to the same things said in the past about parents of gay/lesbian kids. And in fact everything they said and did to trans kids was taken from what was said and done to those ‘pre homosexual’ kids….and was still being done to GNC kids that had no GD at CAMH, in reality making what they did being ‘gay reparative therapy’.

    At the very least if a kid did grow up gay then they would be conforming, closeted ones and thus invisible in society. The wonder is why all the big gay/lesbian activist groups didn’t jump on them long ago for what they were doing under the smokescreen of it being about trans people.

    (5) Since they were really all gay according to them, trans kids were explained by them being extremely GNC and the ‘treatment’ would force them away from that, even if they did grow up gay in the end (trans being the stated ‘worst possible outcome’).

    (6) Because of that ‘model’ GNC behaviour was catagorised as Gender Identity Disorder (GID) where (at least at CAMH) GD was not a qualifier for that diagnosis. It wasn’t until much later that they tested for GD (hence why Singh’s paper is flawed)..
    So they had lots of kids, supposedly GNC with no GD, who (duh) didn’t grow up to be transgender. So they claimed ‘success’ in their treatment.

    The analogy would be to take a bunch of people with no cancer, give them treatments and then claim they cured their cancer.

    In the review the data showed one kid, brought in at 5 not diagnosed with GD (hence not trans) got 105 sessions, with all the reparative ‘drop the barbie’ treatment. That’s child abuse.

    (7) Simple arithmetic from their own statements (80% ‘desist’, 70% were not trans) then 67% of the kids they saw with GD then persisted into adolescence.
    Given that GD varies and that someone with moderate GD might or might not later transition (though may express a non-binary identity), while whose with strong GD would nearly always transition, then they had a lot of kids that showed 100% (or close to it) persistence.

    And they knew this.

    (8) Zucker stated repeatedly (in Baileys book for example) that he had no proof that his gay/trans reparative therapy worked as a ‘cure’ , but they did it anyway showing ‘magical thinking’ in effect (sometimes) forcing people into the closet been seen as a ‘success’.

    (9) The final review that led to the closing of the GIC came on top of the 2007 review which was far more damning, with even racism and homophobia being mentioned and a large list of recommendations for change.
    Fast forward to 2015 and it was clear that the GIC had not changed and the Ontario bill would mean many of Zucker’s procedures would be defunded. We can only speculate about the internal politics, but CAMH had to do something otherwise it faced a revenue black hole. Closing a dept and making people redundant is a time honoured method of getting rid of recalcitrant employees.

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