Scholars, Clinicians Release Statement Rejecting Misleading Anti-LGBTQ “Report”

by HRC Staff

Nearly 600 researchers and healthcare providers have signed a statement rejecting a 2016 article that reinforced dangerous, unsupported anti-LGBTQ myths.

The statement, coordinated by Vanderbilt University researchers Lauren Beach and Jesse Ehrenfeld, explains that the article’s conclusions “do not reflect current scientific or medical consensus” on the nature of gender or sexual orientation, or on healthcare recommendations for LGBTQ people. Dr. Ehrenfeld directs Vanderbilt Medical Center’s Program for LGBTI Health, and Dr. Beach is the program’s Director of LGBTI Research.

The expert statement emphasizes that “the report's conclusions should not be viewed as a source of scientific or medical justification to support any legislation, judicial action, policymaking or clinical decision-making affecting the lives of LGBTQ people or their families.” Frighteningly, the article—and other essays by its authors—are already being used to promote discrimination everywhere from the U.S. Supreme Court to the Tippecanoe County Board of Commissioners.

The flawed article’s authors, psychiatrist Paul McHugh and epidemiologist Lawrence Mayer, have never published research of their own on sexuality or gender. Nonetheless, McHugh has submitted anti-transgender opinion essays to political and religious publications.

Ashland Johnson, HRC’s Director of Public Education and Research, praised the release, explaining that "Dr. McHugh's essays misrepresent established research, run contrary to the overwhelming medical consensus, and cause real harm to LGBTQ people across the country. Dr. McHugh has no formal expertise or research on gender or sexual orientation, and avoids rigorous peer-review for his work. The nearly 600 experts that signed this statement represent a diverse array of academics and experts from across the country and send a clear message that McHugh's work is deeply misleading and, most of all, dangerous."

To join the statement, signatories had to be healthcare providers serving LGBTQ people, or researchers who had published papers on gender or sexual orientation. Experts like these are normally asked to provide feedback and correct misstatements before an article is published, a core tradition of modern science. The misleading article, innocuously titled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” skipped that expert review process: it was printed not by a legitimate scientific journal, but by a conservative think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Health & Aging