Psychiatrist Keith Ablow has made uninformed and biased public comments in recent weeks which expose him as someone on the extreme fringe, and show just how necessary it is for Americans to learn about the lives of real transgender people.
In an opinion column published on the Fox News website earlier this month, Dr. Ablow said that children should not be allowed to watch Chaz Bono perform as a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, because they might be inspired to become transgender. Ablow called Bono’s appearance on this show “toxic and unnecessary,” and “very nearly insane” while implying that all transgender people have an “abnormal psychology” and live life in "a very dark place."
This is worse than complete nonsense – it’s Ablow neglecting his duties as a doctor, and instead playing the role of an anti-transgender activist, spreading harmful misinformation about the lives of transgender people. These are the dehumanizing myths and lies that lead to the widespread discrimination and violence that transgender Americans face every day. After all, if a person believes, as Ablow does, that the acceptance of another person as part of society is “toxic and unnecessary,” then why would they treat that person with respect and dignity?
The American Psychiatric Association issued a statement from their president, Dr. John. M. Oldham in response to Ablow's comments. Oldham stated categorically, "There is no evidence that viewing a television game show with a transgender contestant would induce ... young people (to become transgender)."
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Dr. Jack Drescher, a psychiatrist who specializes in issues of gender and sexual orientation (unlike Keith Ablow) wrote:
[Ablow's] views on gender confusion mix apples with oranges and have little basis in current clinical practices. Dr. Ablow is within his rights to express personal opinions about transgender people. However, as a psychiatrist speaking in a public forum, his audience is entitled to accurate scientific knowledge of a complex subject rather than opinions, scare tactics and inflammatory language.
As Ablow is part of the Fox News "Medical A-Team," much of the broadcast media attention he’s received has been on their network. But even there, Ablow has been challenged by hosts Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly, who both defended Chaz against Ablow’s claims and seemed to support his inclusion on this season of Dancing with the Stars.
The truth is that because few Americans have close friends, family members or colleagues who are openly transgender, there is a risk that someone might take Ablow’s comments at face value as the words of a doctor with an objective opinion. But Ablow is not objective about this issue. He is a very vocal anti-transgender activist who has made no secret of his biases. As we've seen, the American Psychiatric Association has felt compelled to speak out against his biased, unscientific statements.
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Dr. Ablow is using his medical credentials as a cover for espousing discrimination against transgender people. As Americans get to know and understand Chaz Bono, they are learning that transgender people can lead happy, healthy lives and deserve to be treated with the same dignity as anyone else. By suggesting that they should live in the shadows, instead of allowing them to celebrate living their lives authentically, Dr. Ablow does a disservice to his profession by promoting harm instead of health.
GLAAD calls on responsible medical and mental health professionals to continue to clarify the unscientific misinformation promulgated by Keith Ablow and other anti-transgender activists. We will continue to work with transgender people to amplify their voices so that the truth can be heard over the lies.