Regret in Medical Transition: Research from the Amsterdam Gender Dysphoria Study

One of the significant issues in treating gender dysphoria is an examination of regret, if any, experienced by patients who engage in surgical interventions. In a remarkable paper published recently in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, a report of cases seen from 1972-2015 in the largest gender identity clinic in Amsterdam is presented. The sample was large and as a group showed very little regret.

6,793 people (4,432 birth-assigned male, 2,361 birth-assigned female) visited our gender identity clinic from 1972 through 2015. The number of people assessed per year increased 20-fold from 34 in 1980 to 686 in 2015. The estimated prevalence in the Netherlands in 2015 was 1:3,800 for men (transwomen) and 1:5,200 for women (transmen)*. The percentage of people who started HT within 5 years after the 1st visit decreased over time, with almost 90% in 1980 to 65% in 2010. The percentage of people who underwent gonadectomy within 5 years after starting HT remained stable over time (74.7% of transwomen and 83.8% of transmen). Only 0.6% of transwomen and 0.3% of transmen who underwent gonadectomy were identified as experiencing regret.

The idea that regret is common is promoted by Christians who disapprove of gender transition.*** One such website “Sex Change Regret” (sexchangeregret.com) carries articles by Ryan Anderson, Walt Heyer, and Michelle Cretella.** Whether one agrees with transition or not, one should not promote a tendentious reading of research to promote one’s views. While a very small number of people have expressed regret, most don’t. In this study, some experienced social losses after transition, while others did not experience relief from their dysphoria.
If anything, the appropriate stance for a Christian is love and curiosity. Let’s keep our minds and hearts open.
**UPDATE:
After I published this post, Ryan Anderson took exception with my characterization of his position. See his tweet below:


Although Anderson quoted Walt Heyer’s article Regret Isn’t Rare in his new book When Harry Became Sally, I removed this phrase in the post:

all of whom promote the idea that regret is may be widespread

Anderson denies that he believes anything about regret. I also asked him to characterize his position which I will include in a separate post. There was no intent to misrepresent him. Given the section in his book on the subject of regret, his approving citation of Walt Heyer, and an essay in the Daily Signal, I felt I fairly and non-controversially represented his position.
 
*In the study, the authors defined “transwomen as having a male birth assignment and transmen as having a female birth assignment who might receive medical treatment to adapt their physical characteristics to their experienced gender.”
***edited to change “disapprove of transgender people” to “disapprove of gender transition.” To transgender people, there is little difference, but to be as fair as possible to those who have moral misgivings about transitioning, I made the change.

K-LOVE to Buy Chicago Rock Station for $21.5 Million

Attention K-LOVE listeners. Your easy gifts have helped K-LOVE pay $21.5 million for one of the biggest stations in rock. According to Chicago media analyst Robert Felder and this FCC filing, Educational Media Foundation is gobbling up Chicago rock station WLUP-FM 97.9.
As Felder points out in his article, K-LOVE just last year bought Los Angeles rock station “The Sound” and two other stations for $58 million. The Christian music giant pays for their expansion with twice yearly pledge drives.
Felder quotes industry analyst Tom Taylor praising the business strategy of nonprofit EMF:

“They’re very, very sharp, business-wise, and very strategic,” Taylor said of the company headquartered in Rocklin, California, near Sacramento. “They buy based on a formula of x dollars per person under [covered by] the signal.”

It should be obvious then that Chicago is a huge score. Get ready Chicagoland listeners, soon you will be asked to make those easy pledges of $40/month so you can keep K-LOVE on the air. They will need a little less than an entire pledge drive to pay for that station.
What happens when K-LOVE buys all the stations?

Read more about K-LOVE, the manipulative pledge drives, and the blandification of Christian music:

K-LOVE’s Pledge Drive: The Money Behind the Music
Pay a Bill or Give to K-LOVE?
K-LOVE: The Pledge Goal Was About $30-Million
Just Before Pledge Drive, K-LOVE Paid $58-Million for Three Stations
A Very Rich K-LOVE Uses Disaster Relief to Raise More Money
If You Want to Feed the Hungry, Don’t Give (As Much) to a Radio Station
#GivingTuesday: Your $40/Month EZ Gift to K-LOVE/AIR1 Does Not Provide a Child with a Warm Winter Coat
K-LOVE Wants You to Pull Over and Pledge
K-LOVE First Promises Answer to Listener about Executive Compensation Then Fails to Follow Through
Another Indication K-LOVE May Not Need Your Money

Christian and Missionary Alliance Church Declines to Pursue Discipline Against Ravi Zacharias

Yesterday, the Christian & Missionary Alliance made public a brief statement of the results of their investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and dishonesty against apologist Ravi Zacharias. The statement in full is below and at the church website:

Evidence does not provide basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy.

Ravi Zacharias has maintained his licensing credentials through The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) for 45 years. Along with all C&MA licensed workers, he is subject to the Uniform Policy on Discipline, Restoration, and Appeal.

Recently Mr. Zacharias has been accused of exaggerating his academic credentials. Mr. Zacharias and his employer, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, have revised and clarified their communications to address these concerns. The C&MA has determined that there is no basis for formal discipline regarding this matter.

Mr. Zacharias has also been accused of engaging in an immoral relationship with a woman through the use of electronic communications. The C&MA recently completed a thorough inquiry of these accusations, including interviews with those involved and a review of all available documentation and records. While it is not appropriate to publicly discuss the nuances of these allegations, the available evidence does not provide a basis for formal discipline under the C&MA policy.

Questions may be directed to Peter Burgo, at communications@cmalliance.org.

The C&MA Statement Comes Across as Evasive

Immediately, I asked Mr. Burgo where Ravi Zacharias or his ministry addressed the false claims about Cambridge and/Oxford. There has been no reply as of time of publication.

Although I don’t believe RZIM’s statement regarding Zacharias’ use of the title “Dr” was satisfactory, there was some kind of response. However, there has been no response from Ravi Zacharias about his claim that he was a “visiting scholar at Cambridge University.” Zacharias also incorrectly said he was an “official lecturer at Oxford University.” These claims were never admitted or addressed despite being made for many years.

The RZIM response on credentials is primarily about the use of the title “Dr.” You can read it here. The only paragraph which might relate to credentials in general is below:

Neither Ravi Zacharias nor Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) has ever knowingly misstated or misrepresented Ravi’s credentials. When it has been brought to our attention that something was stated incorrectly with regard to Ravi’s background, we have made every effort to correct it. Sometimes other entities—such as publishers or institutions where Ravi was speaking—have incorrectly presented aspects of his credentials. We were not aware of these errors when they were made; however, in some instances RZIM should have caught them and sought to have them corrected. We regret any and all errors, as well as any doubt or distraction they may have caused.

This vague paragraph does not take responsibility for the deceptive use of positions at Cambridge and Oxford not actually held by Ravi Zacharias. He did this for many years and these claims continue to be a part of his books without explicit correction.

Likewise, the C&MA statement comes across as a cover up of the credentials misrepresentations of Ravi Zacharias. In fact, Ravi Zacharias and his ministry have not revised and clarified their communications to address the concerns. They spun some of the concerns but ignored others. Alas, that is what the C&MA has done as well. Because Ravi Zacharias doesn’t refer to himself today as a visiting scholar at Cambridge, the church apparently isn’t going to comment on the many years that he did it before it was revealed to be a false claim.
According to the C&MA’s Uniform Policy on Discipline, Restoration, and Appeal, those who are investigated can face several disciplinary outcomes ranging from reprimand to expulsion. It is hard to understand how Ravi Zacharias escaped at least a reprimand for repeated misrepresentations of his credentials over the decades of his public work.

Regarding the Online Relationship

Initially, it may appear that the C&MA exonerated Zacharias for his online relationship with a Canadian woman. However, I don’t know that it should be interpreted that way. Because the statement only refers to “available evidence,” the conclusion reached by the church is limited by what they could discover. In fact, both Zacharias and the woman are bound by a non-disclosure agreement. There is little now that anyone can discern based on the legal arrangement between the two parties. The fact that there is a NDA and the denomination didn’t insist on investigation beneath that indicates they didn’t do a thorough investigation.

Rick Saccone Asked Mother of Addict What She Would Cut to Fund Opioid Addiction Treatment

Listen to GOP candidate for Congress in PA’s 18th District reply to a mother of an addict during a public hearing on the opioid crisis last year in Lewistown, PA. The hearing was part of a series held around the state on the topic.  The video of the entire hearing is 2.5 hours long and can be viewed via this link.
Near the end of the hearing, a mother told her gut-wrenching story of trying to get help for her son who is an addict. Obviously, the system didn’t work for him and she told her story as a way to provide insight into changes needed legislatively to help address the many inefficiencies in the system. To me, Saccone’s cold reply falls flat. Watch:

After telling her about his wife’s dental implants, he asked this woman where she would cut funding to put money into drug treatment. He told her, “We’re going to try to cut the budget, alright? So where do I take it from? Do I take it from education? Do I take it from Alzheimer’s? Do I take it from autistic children? You say you want more funding. Where would you think I should take it from, in those budget line items?” He then paused as if to wait for an answer. I can only imagine how that mother felt.

How About Taking it From Your Expense Account?

Perhaps Saccone should consider cutting his expense accounts rather than autism or education. Saccone has been a big spender of tax dollars for his personal use while a legislator in Harrisburg. According to the online news site Intercept, “Saccone spent $435,172 in taxpayer money using his expense account” during his seven years in office.
If only he could be forced to answer some questions in return.
I saw the link to the YouTube video in the NBC News article which gives a helpful rundown of the differences between Saccone and his Democrat challenger Conor Lamb on addressing the opioid problem. The prevalence of addiction is high in Western PA where economic recovery has been slow to materialize. Although government cannot legislate the problem away, policy which allows existing funds to go to treatments needed by addicts can be enacted.
The special election is a week from tomorrow with Saccone and Lamb are in a statistical dead heat.

Former Gateway Church Pastor's Endorsement Worth a Lot in Texas Politics

Update: In the Texas GOP State Representative race, Capriglione is easily defeating Mizani. At this writing with 458/705 precincts reporting, Capriglione has 11,224 votes and Mizani is far behind with 6,663. It doesn’t appear that the endorsement described below is having much of an impact.
………………………………………
Gateway Church still has some clout. Even though the church has laid off staff and Pastor Robert Morris’ children have left for church plants elsewhere, local politicians still want endorsements from Gateway-connected pastors. Here is a letter of sent by Texas State House of Representatives candidate Armin Mizani in his primary race against fellow Republican State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) touting the endorsement of former Gateway Church worship leader Walker Beach.

Beach doesn’t even live in Keller anymore. He is a pastor in Florida. However, apparently the Gateway name and aura still carries some weight in politics.
In the rarefied world of Southlake’s House District 98, one can’t be too conservative. According to a GOP insider in the area, Capriglione’s sin was voting for Joe Straus for Speaker of the House. Straus is conservative but blocked the “bathroom bill” which would have required people use public bathrooms consistent with their birth assigned sex. More specifically, the bill would have repealed anti-discrimination ordinances for LGBT people in Texas cities. Local Tea Party supporters wanted Scott Turner as the Speaker. Since Turner didn’t have the votes, Capriglione supported Straus, much to the consternation of the local tea partiers. Thus, Mizani has emerged as an alternative to punish Capriglione.
Even though Capriglione is sympathetic to the same ends, those pushing Mizani want him to roll back protections for LGBT citizens and any number of other Tea Party objectives.

Rachel Denhollander Responds to Sovereign Grace Churches

Because I posted a link to an article from Rachel Denhollander and Sovereign Grace Churches’ response to her, I am posting a link to Denhollander’s extensive reply to SGC. I encourage readers interested in the ongoing saga of Sovereign Grace Churches to read the entire reply from Denhollander. She begins:

I have prayed and considered for nearly three weeks whether to respond to the statement by Sovereign Grace Churches posted on February 13th. This blog post is the most extensive statement by the organization with respect to serious questions that have been outstanding for nearly a decade. However, the response is misleading on several vital points, and leaves many disturbing questions unanswered. Because of this, I have chosen to respond in greater detail and renew my call for Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC, formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM)) to submit to an independent third-party review of how they have handled reports of abuse.
This call does not rise from a sort of Javert-like obsession with SGC, but from the knowledge that evangelical churches are plagued with serious problems related to how we respond to and counsel victims of sexual assault. In fact, experts have stated that both the amount

Rachael Denhollander

of abuse, and the failure to report it, is likely worse than in the Roman Catholic Church – a religious organization often used by evangelicals as a byword for sexual assault scandals. Research bears out the claim these experts make. Because many churches are ideologically committed to the theories that lead them to handle abuse so poorly, many church leaders are very sincere, yet sincerely wrong. Sadly, these leaders and institutions also remain resistant to outside accountability or input. This is a serious problem that damages the gospel and pushes the most vulnerable away from hope and refuge. Addressing this issue is not damaging the Gospel, it is instead seeking to restore the Gospel and Christ to their rightful authority and priority over institutions and mishandled theology.

She continues to call for an independent investigation of the charges against SGC. It is hard to see any problems with this request. If SGC doesn’t trust GRACE then another person or group could surely be secured to do the job.

Former Colleagues Question Rick Saccone’s North Korea Diplomat Claims

According to a career foreign service officer, Rick Saccone, the GOP candidate for Congress in the upcoming PA 18th District special election, stretched the truth when he called himself a diplomat in a campaign ad. David Lambertson, former ambassador to Thailand also denied that Saccone was the only American working in North Korea at the time as Saccone claims on his website. Lambertson said that two others were involved, including himself, and that very little negotiating occurred.
The March 13 contest in PA’s 18th District between Saccone and Conor Lamb is being closely watched around the nation. Donald Trump won the district by 20 points in the presidential election, but currently Republican Saccone is up by only three points over Democrat Conor Lamb in a recent Monmouth University poll.
Saccone’s ads tout his military and foreign affairs service over the youthful Lamb, a former prosecutor. Saccone has long been interested in the Korean peninsula, spending many years in South Korea. He also spent some time in North Korea which formed the basis for the claims now being scrutinized.
In a campaign television ad, Saccone says he was “a diplomat in North Korea.”

On his website, Saccone claims:

His experience also includes being the only United States citizen living in North Korea that negotiated with the North Korean regime on a daily basis.


The claim has been repeated in press reports (see also here, here) like this one from the Washington Examiner:

And during the George W. Bush administration, he held the distinction of having served as a diplomat to North Korea from 2000 to 2001 and was the only U.S. citizen living in Pyongyang at the time.

A Diplomat?

At the time, contact between North Korea and the U.S. was limited. President Clinton signed the Agreed Framework in 1994 which called for a nuclear power plant to be built in exchange for a freeze on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The organization formed to support the construction of the power plant was called the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). According to one of his books on North Korea, Saccone was given a job of representing the U.S. on site. He portrays the position as an exclusive one beginning in December 2000 with no other American presence. He said David Lambertson welcomed him to North Korea. In Living with the Enemy: Inside North Korea, Saccone wrote:

Suddenly I was headed North as a representative for an international organization building a nuclear power plant on the east coast, north of Hamheung, in an isolated region known as Geumho. The lone American at the site, along with one Japanese and about 800 South Koreans.
KEDO was formed as a key element of the Agreed Framework signed during the Clinton administration. Under this international agreement, the North agreed to shut down its nuclear program in exchange for two 1000 megawatt Light Water Reactor power plants built by a U.S. led consortium consisting primarily of American, South Korean, Japanese, and later European Union participation.

Regarding the claim of being a diplomat, I asked another former KEDO representative and former ambassador to Thailand David Lambertson for his perspective. Lambertson told me that he worked for KEDO on a part-time basis for five years and during that time visited North Korea a dozen times. Altogether he spent “a total of a year and a half there.” He said Saccone visited the North “two or three trips maximum.”  Because the Agreed Framework with North Korea required an American presence, someone rotated in and out of North Korea about every month or six weeks. He said, “When Saccone did it there were three of us, and then later on just two.” He said Spence Richardson replaced Saccone after a month to six weeks. “Saccone was most certainly not there for a year.”
About the claim to be a diplomat, Lamberson said,

As to whether Saccone was a “diplomat” in North Korea, I suppose that depends on one’s definition of the term.  We occasionally had to work out solutions to problems that arose at the work site (a nuclear power plant was being constructed), but it was rare that the American’s role rose to the level of “negotiator.”  Most of the negotiating took place in periodic meetings in which senior representatives of KEDO headquarters in New York came to the work site or to Pyongyang for discussions with the North Koreans.  I participated in numerous such meetings, but only in a support role.
All in all, I’d say that if Saccone is claiming to have been a “diplomat” in North Korea, he is stretching the facts just a bit.  Politicians are known to do that.

Lambertson’s account also contradicts Saccone’s website claim that he was the “only United States citizen living in North Korea that negotiated with the North Korean regime on a daily basis.” According to Lambertson, negotiations weren’t frequent and he and Richardson spent most of the time there. None of the KEDO annual reports refer to the American on the ground as a diplomat.
I also spoke by phone with Desaix Anderson who was the Executive Director of KEDO at the time Saccone was hired. Anderson, who was Executive Director from 1997 through mid-2001, did not recall Saccone’s involvement with KEDO at all. He remembered Lambertson and Richardson but not Saccone. He referred me to Lambertson for more specifics about what happened on the ground in North Korea.
I reached out to the Saccone campaign via email earlier today but did not receive a response.
Lambertson was appointed ambassador to Thailand by George Bush and served with distinction as did Anderson, who was the first envoy to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam after the U.S. established diplomatic relations. Given their accounts, I hope Saccone will come forward with a correction or explanation for his characterization of himself as a diplomat and as the sole representative for the year 2001 to the North Korean government.