Op-Ed: I'm Not Convinced Keith Ablow Is An Ethical Doctor
Keith Ablow is a man of many hats. Whether he’s writing murder-mystery novels, having his professional ethics questioned by his peers, resigning in protest from the American Psychological Association, or appearing as part of Fox News’ “Medical A-Team,” Ablow keeps busy.
In an editorial for Fox News, Ablow once again launched into a transphobic tirade, illustrating a disdain for medical science, and a dangerous level of ignorance on trans topics, this time using California’s transgender student law as a jumping-off point.
Ablow is unabashed in his transphobia, wrapping it into one exceedingly long sentence:
“The mere fact that teachers and administrators will have to explain to kindergarten and first-grade students that they might see girls in the boys’ room, or boys in the girls’ locker room, but those really aren’t kids of the gender they appear to be, could do harm to their own developing sense of self by suggesting to them that their gender is fluid, that it might well change for them, too, and that they should be on the lookout for signs that they want to switch.”
Ablow inadvertently makes the case in favor of creating an open, trans-friendly environment, albeit contrary to his intent. Perhaps there are some genderfluid, nonbinary, or agender children who will see the acceptance of trans students as reassurance that they, too, can hope to be accepted by greater society. Perhaps by providing trans (both binary and nonbinary) students with a nurturing environment, society can begin to see the 41 percent rate of suicide attempts for trans youth begin to fall. Sadly, this seems to be the exact opposite outcome from what Ablow articulates.
Ablow abandons any illusion of remaining "scientific" when he brings the concept of souls into the discussion. “I believe that children have enough to deal with as they struggle to feel comfortable with their bodies, with the notion of privacy, and later with changes involving puberty, without urging them to grapple with the notion that their souls may have been born into the wrong bodies,” Ablow writes.
Blending science and spirituality, Ablow goes on to claim he doesn’t “believe we have definitive data that any male or female soul has ever in the history of the world been born into the wrong anatomic gender.”
Of course, "definitive data" that such a thing as a "soul" exists is tought to come by, as well.
But picking and choosing which "data" to believe appears to be Ablow's tactic throughout the piece. “I am not convinced by any science I can find that people with definitively male DNA and definitively male anatomy can actually be locked in a cruel joke of nature because they are actually female,” declares Ablow.
Apparently the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders falls into the category of “science” Ablow can’t “find,” as it devotes an entire chapter to the topic of gender dysphoria.
Ablow then goes on to describe a few lewd, absurd, hypothetical situations involving people with “female anatomy” using mens’ room urinals, recycling the tired — and false — idea that transgender people are inherently predatory in nature.
He concludes his editorial with a call to recall California Gov. Jerry Brown, whom he warns is a “threat to children everywhere.”
Ablow’s advice and commentary often fall far outside the realm of confirmed medical science, which begs the question: Why does he hold the existence of transgender people up to such unattainable, data-driven standards, when he treats self-coined pathologies without scientific background as unquestionable fact?
Earlier this week, Ablow suggested that it’s possible to justify the shooting of a man caught texting in a movie theater, comparing this outburst to road rage, coming up with the term “data rage.”
Ablow has a long history of going out of his way to attack transgender people, though his medically inaccurate screeds tend to follow a common theme: kids can be “tricked” into being transgender.
In an April 2011 Fox News editorial, Ablow criticized J. Crew’s online catalog for showing a picture of a mother painting her son’s toenails. Ablow claimed that children seeing the image would lead to “the choosing of gender identity, rather than suggesting our children become comfortable with the ones that they got at birth.”
This "choice," Ablow contended, will lead to “psychological turmoil,” and the “crowding of operating rooms with procedures to grotesquely amputate body parts.” He concludes that editorial by claiming that the very concept of gender variance is “hostile to the gender distinctions that actually are part of the magnificent synergy that creates and sustains the human race.”
Five months later, Ablow returned to the Fox's opinion pages to warn parents against letting their children watch Dancing With the Stars during the season featuring Chaz Bono. He wrote of his fears that the show would drive “millions of young people” to contemplate “transgender surgery.”
“It would be wrong to think that gender dysphoria cannot be kindled by celebrating those who [are transgender],” wrote Ablow, betraying his belief that parental agendas or environmental impacts can "turn" cisgender people transgender.
Ablow puts his ignorance front and center when he argues, time and time again, that the only way to protect children of the future — indeed, the future of the entire human race — from becoming transgender is to look down upon and discriminate against those who are. That doesn't sound like it adheres to the hippocratic oath Ablow almost certainly took when he recieved his medical license, to exercise the "utmost respect for human life from its beginning."
PARKER MARIE MOLLOY is the founder of Park That Car and works as a freelance writer. She has contributed writing to Rolling Stone, Salon, The Huffington Post, and Talking Points Memo as well as The Advocate. Follow her on Twitter @MissParkerMarie.