This week, FoxNews.com published an offensive online article by Dr. Keith Ablow titled "Inside the Mind of Chaz Bono," which asserted that Chaz's transgender identity is "a psychotic delusion."
Although the article appears to have been taken down as of this afternoon, GLAAD is urging its supporters to educate themselves in order to prevent such harmful misinformation from being released in the future.
Keith Ablow is an "expert on psychiatry" according to his website, a member of the "Fox News Medical A-Team" according to Fox News, and co-author of a book written with Glenn Beck called The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life.
Ablow begins the article with the claim that his opinion is "entirely biologically and psychiatrically accurate," and continues to assert throughout the piece that it's "a biological reality" that Chaz is a "woman," without providing any medical evidence that substantiates this claim. This vague, simplistic appeal to "biology" is often used by opponents of transgender equality in order to ground their argument in a seemingly scientific foundation. However, overwhelming majority of medical experts agree that there are a variety of physiological and psychological factors that constitute sex and gender. A person's reproductive system or chromosomes is no more "biological" than one's hormone levels or one's understanding of one's own gender identity. A more legitimate and informed medical analysis of transgender people may be found from organizations such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), which creates internationally accepted, medically responsible Standards of Care for treating transgender people.
In addition to making factually inaccurate claims about "biology," Ablow also draws completely irrelevant, spurious, and offensive analogies between transgender individuals and people who suffer from hallucinations and paranoia. Ablow contends, "I was taught to consider Chaz Bono's contention that she is male as a psychotic delusion - a fixed and false belief." Controversially, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) currently lists "Gender Identity Disorder" as a diagnosis, however, the treatment recommended by WPATH is a physical transition to bring the person's body more in line with their internal gender identity (or sense of self.) The American Medical Association (AMA) passed a resolution in 2008 affirming the effectiveness of hormonal and surgical treatment for transgender people and their right to appropriate care.
By refusing to use the pronouns and language with which Chaz himself identifies, Ablow's article is irresponsible from a journalistic standpoint as well. "Chastity Bono, the daughter of Cher and Sonny Bono, has undergone gender reassignment surgery and now asserts she (that's right, she) is a man. She now wants to be called Chaz," Ablow writes in the first line of the article. The Associated Press Stylebook advises reporters to discuss transgender women and men by using the name and pronouns preferred by the individual and/or consistent with the way they live their lives publicly. Ablow's dismissal of these guidelines is not only disrespectful and insulting to Chaz and the LGBT community, but and uncalled for on a professional level.
Ablow's attempt to use his credibility as a doctor to sway his readers' opinions of an public figure is deplorable. Attitudes and misinformation like Ablow's perpetuate the discrimination that transgender people face in America and around the world. A groundbreaking study on the transgender community released in February showed that 41% of respondents had attempted suicide - more than 26 times the rate of the general population. Transgender and gender non-conforming people face vast difficulties in housing, jobs, public accommodations, and other areas of life.
The offensive article seems to have been pulled from the Fox News website at this time, but it can still be viewed on the Wonk Room's website. (The Wonk Room has already published a terrific response.) GLAAD has reached out to Fox and expressed deep concern about the content. We have also reached out to several of Fox News' major national advertisers to alert them to this inaccurate and disrespectful article. GLAAD applauds Chaz's choice to tell the story of his transition, and hopes he will continue to educate misinformed Americans like Keith Ablow. We will continue to monitor coverage of Chaz's story, and other issues that concern the transgender and gender non-conforming community.