Bil Browning

AC360's 'Sissy Boy' Story Followup

Filed By Bil Browning | June 16, 2011 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: AC360, Anderson Cooper, box turtle bulliten, Jim Burroway, Sissy Boy Experiments

Anderson Cooper's three part investigative report into George Reker's disastorous ex-gay therapy for effeminate boys was highly acclaimed in the blogosphere and earlier this week he followed up on the story with guest Jim Burroway. Burroway runs BoxTurtleBulletin, a blog that is one of the best at covering the ex-gay movement and the dangers they pose.


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Although I am gratified that Anderson Cooper has raised awareness on the important issue of reparative psychotherapies in this tragic story, Cooper and Jim Burroway are wrong in casting this as a gay issue to the exclusion of trans and other gender-diverse victims. In his published literature, Rekers justified his "treatment" of Kirk as "the primary prevention of adult transsexualism or similar adult sex-role deviation." Reker's "treatment" was primarily focused on punishing behaviors and identities that differed from stereotypes of assigned birth sex, and the practice continues today. While same-sex orientation was phased out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) between 1973 and 1987, gender nonconformity and diversity were emphasized as pathological in its stead under labels of "disordered" gender identity (GID) and "transvestic fetishism." Burroway was also incorrect in describing modern-day reparative therapy as a "religious based movement." While both the American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations have condemned reparative conversion therapies explicitly targeting same-sex orientation, neither organization has condemned gender-reparative therapies targeting gender identity and expression that differ from assigned birth-roles. Moreover, the American Psychiatric Association chose the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH, formerly the Clarke Institute) to lead the drafting of sexual and gender diagnoses in the pending Fifth Edition of the DSM, as it did for the Fourth Edition. This institution is well known for practicing and promoting punitive gender-reparative psychotherapies upon youth suspected of being trans or transsexual. It saddens me that trans victims of gender-reparative psychotherapies and their issues were erased from this important CNN story.

Excellent comment Kelley and there really is so much to say. I was a child in that time period and my Father is now a Baptist Minister. I've tried to get my views out there about how to deal with religious conservatives but unfortunately GID kids from conservative families are being triaged out of the scenario in favor of those kids who least need the help because their parents are more tolerant. I'd say more here but the simple fact is I don't think those who'd read it could handle it or would show just how uncaring they are even about children.If you care to chat about this off Bilerico Kelley you know how to find me on facebook.

Whilst I welcome your remarks on the excision by AC360 and BoxTurtleBulletin of the entirety of the trans aspect of Rekers evil work, you fail to mention the worst, and continuing effect on transsexual children.

Reckers senior associate, Green (in whose name most of the funding was obtained), falsely reported that the work evidenced that children with with gender dysphoria naturally grew out of it, and became homosexual. He based his long career upon that work, which has been used for decades to deny transsexual children acceptance as their identities, and cause the use of the wrong indications in the very diagnosis of gender dysphoria - which it is intended to perpetuate in the new DSM, and about which I have seen no objection from yourself, as trans blogger GIDReform.

Perhaps because they misunderstood how rare transsexual children are, their efforts at recruiting a set of "pre-transsexual" boys for their experiments in reparative therapy, including television appearances emphasising how behaviour such as liking dolls were a problem and curable, instead produced a set of gay youngsters with no gender dysphoria. Despite the "therapy" they of course remained gay.


As you know, because you were another speaker at the APA seminar where he spoke, Green's star subject, now a sociologist, has since been very clear that he never had any wish to be female. When one reads the extensive transcriptions in Green's book on the work one finds no questions or statements on any wish by any of the subjects to have a female body.

It seems, despite having collaborated with Benjamin on 'The Transsexual Phenomenon', and knowing of Benjamin's diagnostic questions and enabling of young teens to transition, Green established the continuing habit of gender therapists of not asking those questions. And then claiming difficulty in diagnosing transsexuality and belief that children will "change their minds" and, in expectation of that, should not be allowed to even live in the role of their gender of identity, and should be denied hormones until 16.

This has ruined the lives of thousand of children, and probably led to many suicides and grieving, self-blaming families.

And, of course, it allows, because the one factor that clearly distinguishes those who will, if able, transition, is disregarded, for the reparative therapy you quite rightly say is practised at The Clarke/CAMH in Toronto.

However, when you say it is done to "youth", you, in turn, are erasing how it particularly affects children. Zucker uses psychological techniques, involving parents against their child, on children up to the age of 11, trying to make them more fitting to stereotypes of their sex of birth, and happy in their body of birth. But those who have remained unchanged are then facilitated, by GNRH agonists, and at 16, hormones, to transition. Zucker's peers (including Spack at Boston)accept that abuse of children because it is "diagnostic". No doubt Zucker, and his CAMH colleagues' considerable connections and influence (not least his editorship of 'Archives of Sexual Behavior', founded by Green), power in the DSM revision, and personal style, which is ferocious, help in that.

But I feel that the open acceptance of such abuse of trans children (and, let us not forget, also all the other children, most of whom are gay or lesbian) who are wrongly swept into children gender clinics by Green's faulty indicators, by the APA, and the APA, and their lesbian and gay groups, has to be put down to sheer, ignorant, transphobia.

It is interesting though, that Green, who now advocates that transsexual children receive hormonal intervention immediately before puberty begins (earlier than most of his peers), and to challenge the psychoanalytically-based London children's gender clinic, now only describes the subjects of that notorious work as "very feminine boys, right over at the end of the spectrum." But he still claims the work is relevant to gender dysphoric children.

Good points, however I'd like to respond to--

> the wrong indications in the very diagnosis of gender dysphoria - which it is intended to perpetuate in the new DSM, and about which I have seen no objection from yourself

Actually, I have objected extensively to the proposed diagnostic criteria for Gender Dysphoria in the DSM-5 at gidreform.org, gidreform.wordpress.com, professionals.gidreform.org and here at Bilerico . I am particularly concerned with diagnostic criteria that continue to describe nonconformity to birth-assigned roles and victimization by societal prejudice as symptomatic of mental illness. These criteria contradict rather than enable transition care for those who need it. I and others have suggested an alternative four-cornered definition of gender dysphoria, based on distress rather than nonconformity to birth-assigned roles.