Roger Helmer: A special type of stupid

Roger Helmer MEP for the East Midlands region asked on his twitter feed today:

Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to “turn” a consenting homosexual?

At first the question seems stupid – what’s the connection between homosexuality and gender reassignment? Isn’t this blatant homophobia? As David Allen Green has put it, has Helmer not confused “the distinct issues of gender identity and sexual preference”?

Then you read it again.

It’s still stupid.

For a longer discussion on the issue read Heresy Corner, I’m going to keep this brief. Gender reassignment is, as it is well known, the process of altering the sexual characteristics of an individual. That means a therapeutic measure of hormone replacement, replacement of organs, and other secondary sexual characteristics that aren’t reproductive organs (such as facial hair or breasts). As far as is physically possible an individual reflects the gender they have been reassinged to – nowhere in the surgery is there any attempt to mentally reassign a person, to make him/her feel like a man/woman (perhaps because there is no such feeling at all).

The notion that Helmer is comparing this with is the attempt to change, not a set of physical characteristics, but the complex psychosexual structure of an individual, which is far trickier in many ways to reassign, some would say impossible.

I’m of this latter opinion; you can’t try and “turn” a consenting homosexual, you can only try and make a person forget he or she is homosexual, or do things contrary to his or her sexuality (like be attracted to, or enjoy sexual practices with, a person from the opposite sex). And it ought not to be available by national health services like gender reassignment is. However if you want a homophobe to rub you with salts and tell you that you’re really attracted to people of the opposite sex, and that homosexuality is a myth or a lie one tells themselves, then what people get up to in their spare time is up to them – like with homeopathy it will be incumbent upon sane people to promote the truth of such ridiculous practices.,

Once again therefore, Helmer is way off the mark.We can add this to the list of other gaffes and witless opinions such as:

6 Responses to Roger Helmer: A special type of stupid

  1. harpymarx says:

    It’s just blatant vile homophobia. End of.

    Consider this homosexuality was only removed from the DSM-III in 1973 as it was classified as a “mental disorder”. This bible of the psychiatric profession was first published in 1952, it is also a bourgeois medical model lousy bible that classifies and labels people. The reason homosexuality was junked in 1973 was due to the lesbian and gay liberation campaign along with leftie shrinks that put pressure on the psychiatric profession. But it wasn’t a total victory as it may have been removed from “mental disorders” but was replaced with the category “sexual orientation disturbance” . By the late seventies it was replaced with “ego-dystonic sexual orientation”. What worries me about these clinical and unhelpful classifications is it sees the
    issues concerning sexuality centred in the individual as opposed to the the oppressive society we live in. Labels like that one can give individuals the excuse of “curing” LGB people as they may be unhappy, scared and unsure about their sexuality. But that usually reflects the kind of homophobic society we live in. The pressures put under people where people sometimes internalise their own oppression. Surely it is about supporting people.
    During the mid 1990s a woman I knew was sectioned by a shrink because of her sexuality, he told her, “the reason you have mental health problems is because you are bent”. Thankfully the homophobic idiot was sacked.

    Sorry … may have gone a tad off topic…

    • Carl Packman says:

      No that’s absolutely on topic.

      There’s two arguments here; the question of sexuality itself, and then the purposes of such treatment as is being offered for homosexuality. The first I’ve dealt with in the blog entry, the second is far more straight forward: what we can see with proposals by some is simply reverting back to a time when figures in the medical establishment felt being “bent” was a mental health problem. Therefore any talk along the lines of “curing” homosexuality is straight up homophobic end of question.

  2. Great piece of analysis here (and some misquotations). I draw a parallel between two distinct phenomena, and you point out that the two phenomena are — well, distinct! But there is also a parallel. A man who is uncomfortable with his gender seeks to change it, and we approve, and the NHS pays for the surgery. Another man is uncomfortable with his gender orientation, and seeks to change it, and we strike off the therapist. I simply asked why the apparent double standard. And I’m still waiting for the answer.

    • Carl Packman says:

      You draw a false parallel though; while you can change a person’s physical features, you can’t change somebody’s complex psychosexual structure – all you can do is try and convince that person they are something they’re not. You do this at risk of emotionally scaring the individual (for whom you can tell that black is white and white is black until the cows come home, but this does not make it so) and also at the wider risk of making homosexuality appear little more than a mental disorder. I can quite understand why the NHS would choose to distance themselves from this risk.

    • What you are doing is conflating gender and sexuality, as Carl and others have pointed out.

      Thanks to our cultural baggage, and religion of course, homosexuality is seen as “not the norm”. Thankfully that view is now swiftly receding into history, as is the belief within the mental health industry that a person’s sexuality can be changed with therapy. If someone came to me and asked to be cured of their sexuality, I would have to tell them that it is far too late to do so and they must somehow come to terms with their feelings through therapy.

      Mr Helmer, you are using a rather conceited argument at best, and displaying an astounding lack of understanding of basic human nature. So-called reparative therapy does not work. At most what you can achieve is to train the gay person to subsume their feelings and attempt to live a heterosexual life. This will naturally lead to all kinds of psychological problems, as has been shown time and time again in psychotherapy offices around the world.

      And those shining examples from the so-called ex.gay movement? Either they are lying, putting on a front to hide their psychological problems, or perhaps bisexual. There are very valid reasons why the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the American Psychiatric Association both state quite clearly that reparative therapy doesn’t work and that homosexuality is not a mental illness.

      After reviewing your personal website, I do have to say though, that I am impressed with your climate scepticism. Is that the reason why so many US companies, such as the American Nuclear Energy Council, the American Petroleum Institute, Texaco and Exxon Mobil, appointed you to their made-up position of Adam Smith Scholar, whatever that is meant to mean. ALEC, not a pleasant bunch by all accounts…

  3. Pingback: Roger Helmer! And some transphobia. | Complicity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: