In my view, reputable universities and medical centers have an obligation to condemn bogus research offered to the public under the apparent credibility of such institution. When the Christofascists paid Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas to concoct a flawed and now discredited study that was used to oppose same sex marriage, Regnerus' department stated in no uncertain terms that it rejected his supposed findings and made it clear that Regnerus' views did not represent those of the institution. With the publication of a new, non-peer reviewed article by two individuals with Johns Hopkins University and Medical School, that institution finds itself in a position where it needs to take a similar stance. Sadly, to date it has failed to do so and instead has made mealy mouthed statements about "freedom of expression." As a result, the Human Rights Campaign is on the verge of revoking the institution LGBT-friendly and supportive ranking, and rightly so, in my view. NBC News looks at the controversy. Here are excerpts:
The fate of transgender Americans may now be in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, as it decides whether to hear the case of trans student Gavin Grimm, who is suing his school district in order to use the boys' bathroom. Those who would deny individuals like Grimm their civil rights, however, hope to block not just their right to pee — but to be.
The movement's latest effort is a controversial 143-page report that LGBTQ advocates consider an early Christmas gift to religious conservatives. Its authors are Dr. Paul McHugh and Dr. Lawrence Mayer of Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., who between them have never conducted independent research on LGBTQ Americans.
McHugh, a retired professor at Johns Hopkins and a psychiatrist who considers being trans a "mental disorder," collaborated with Mayer to change what people think about sexuality and gender through science. This is an opponent of transgender rights who made a name for himself by declaring homosexuality a choice, lending his expertise to legal efforts to block same-sex marriage in California. The self-described cultural conservative and strict Catholic once compared the practice of administering hormone therapy to children as akin to performing "liposuction on an anorexic child."
The paper was published in The New Atlantis, which is not a peer-reviewed medical journal, where reports by members of the Johns Hopkins team might normally be found. Instead, it's the product of the Ethics and Public Policy Center(EPPC), a Christian-focused conservative think tank "dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical areas of public policy."
Even if you've never heard of EPPC, their stance on some key issues in LGBTQ life will be familiar. The group supported the now-defunct Defense of Marriage Act, objected to the elimination of Don't Ask, Don't tell and supports efforts by conservative states to enact religious freedom restoration acts.
Although it might appear unusual that Johns Hopkins healthcare professionals would publish a paper of this kind in a religious publication with a political agenda, Mayer shrugged it off.
NBC OUT has learned that unless Mayer and McHugh's bosses at Johns Hopkins immediately disassociate themselves from what the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) considers their transphobic findings, the reputation of the university, its medical school and its hospitals may suffer.
The claims made by the authors have triggered an unprecedented review byHRC, which is the nation's leading LGBTQ civil rights organization. The group says it has been warning the internationally respected university medical school for several months that it will remove its name from an elite classification in its Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) unless action is taken.
A person with knowledge of HRC's leadership decisions told NBC OUT that after repeated warnings, Johns Hopkins is now on the brink of losing its perfect score on that closely-watched benchmark for LGBTQ equality. The source provided the text of a warning sent in June, prior to the release of the report by Dr. Mayer and Dr. McHugh:
"Failure to take significant steps to distance Johns Hopkins Medicine from this line of Dr. McHugh's personal beliefs and opinions will be considered an activity that undermines LGBTQ equality and patient care for the purposes of the Healthcare Equality Index score for Johns Hopkins Hospital."
NBC OUT reached out to spokespersons for both Johns Hopkins Medicine as well as the university, in hopes of getting their reaction to its endangered perfect score, and to ask whether anyone would endorse or would condemn the controversial report on transgender Americans.
A spokeswoman for Johns Hopkins Medicine, representing both institutions, addressed the issue via email, but refused to directly address the report. . . . they're not endorsing Mayer and McHugh and "not necessarily" distancing themselves, either. On Monday, HRC sent another warning letter to Johns Hopkins, mentioning the report in the New Atlantis, according to the HRC official who requested anonymity.
Sarah McBride, HRC's national press secretary and the first-ever transgender speaker at an American political convention, talked to NBC OUT on the record and said she believed the report by Mayer and McHugh posed "dangerous consequences for transgender people, in particular transgender young people."
"There's no question that the public narrative is that this is a Hopkins study," and unless the institution were to take action there will be "consequences," she added. As to what those might be, McBride later emailed a statement to NBC OUT to shed a few new details.
"We are deeply troubled by the continued use of Johns Hopkins' name and reputation to back up the unscientific, unfounded, and harmful personal prejudices of a few of their doctors. We have repeatedly reached out to Johns Hopkins to express our disappointment and anger with the ongoing use of their credibility to back up discredited theories. The next version of our HEI will include criteria regarding institutional support for similar anti-LGBTQ actions, which means that unless Johns Hopkins addresses this situation, their score will be significantly impacted. We have made and will continue to make that fact clear to Johns Hopkins as we work to end this practice."
The Advocate invited Dean Hamer, PhD., to investigate Mayer and McHugh's report. Hamer, who is scientist emeritus at the National Institutes of Health . . . . did not mince words in his article, writing in conclusion: "When the data we have struggled so long and hard to collect is twisted and misinterpreted by people who call themselves scientists, and who receive the benefits and protection of a mainstream institution such as John Hopkins Medical School, it disgusts me."
The real test of Mayer and McHugh's controversial report will be whether it is largely ignored, as Dr. Hamer believes it will be, or whether it will find its way into the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court justices as they consider what could be a precedent-setting case on trans civil rights.