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10/29/2008

Phil's 'experts': It's like having a vet and a cat debate the worth of dogs

by Jeremy Hooper

 Assets E E8Eeb0640254B6Cdc4Ac0961E5985257You know what's probably not the most scientifically sound thing to do? To book an actual, credible doctor (Dan Siegel, professor and clinical psychiatrist at UCLA School of Medicine and director for the Center for Human Development) to speak on your TV show about gender identity, but then book a faith-based, agenda-driven personality from Focus on the Family (Glenn Stanton) to serve as "the other side" in a supposedly two-sided, reasoned debate. However, that is exactly what happened on today's episode of The Dr. Phil Show."

Here's a brief rundown and partial transcript:

Joining the discussion is Dr. Dan Siegel, professor and clinical psychiatrist at UCLA School of Medicine and director for the Center for Human Development. Dr. Siegel says he works with many families going through what Melissa and Tim are experiencing.

“The basic thing we need to realize is there is something called a gender identity, which isn’t the same as the genitals you have,” Dr. Siegel says. “So your genes determine whether you have male genitals or female genitals, but the exposure to the fetus’ brain as it develops in the womb, we think, determines the identity. And it’s on a spectrum, so you could be feeling fully male or fully female, or somewhere in between, and in your case, the child we’re talking about, she feels that her brain — she even said it on the video — got an identity as a female even though her genitals are male, and that makes total sense when you understand the biology of how it develops.”

“So you’re saying how you’re born is defined on different levels,” Dr. Phil says.

“Exactly, because how you’re born with your genitals doesn’t necessarily correspond with your brain’s development,” he says. “You should accept the child for how they are born, I totally agree with that, but in the inside, when you look at the brain, it isn’t as black and white as are you a female or male as the genitals would show.”

...

Glenn Stanton is a research fellow with the Christian-based organization, Focus on the Family. He studies gender as a social phenomenon and is currently working on a book that deals with the importance of gender and parenting. He says people are not born this way and parents are responsible for guiding their children into the gender they were born with.

“What we find is that kids start out as kids,” Glenn says. “They don’t know. Most little boys have never been a man before. Most little girls have never been a woman before. They need help figuring these things out, and it’s a job of the parent to come in, as you did, with such a loving heart and care for your child, but to guide them and direct them. The children are not in the driver’s seat. They’re not the ones who are at the age and the maturity to be able to make these kinds of decisions, so we need to help them move in the right direction.”

“So you disagree with what Dr. Siegel is saying, because you talk about 'born as,' but what Dr. Siegel is saying is that it's defined by the brain as well as the external genitalia. How do you respond to that?” Dr. Phil asks.

“I’m actually agreeing with him in a way that there is a spectrum, but there are very few real Pats in the world, where we just don’t know what they are,” Glenn says, referring to the gender-neutral character named Pat on Saturday Night Live. “We always identify with either a boy or a girl, we can always determine OK, that’s girl behavior or boy behavior. For my little boy wanting to go to art museums, for me wanting to go to art museums, is that feminine behavior? For you being interested in ballet, is that a feminine behavior? No. It could be done in a very masculine way.”

FULL: The Experts Weigh In [Dr Phil]

Stay tuned for more on this.

**UPDATE(s):

-The show has a link to Focus on the Family on their website.


-Want to know how Mr. Stanton views LGBT people and acceptance thereof? Here are some comments he made while sitting on a recent marriage panel:








**UPDATE, 10/30: Check out Queers United for more

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Your thoughts

" For my little boy wanting to go to art museums, for me wanting to go to art museums, is that feminine behavior? For you being interested in ballet, is that a feminine behavior? No. It could be done in a very masculine way.”

All I can say is WTF!

Posted by: Alonzo | Oct 29, 2008 5:55:26 PM

Nothing less than we've come to expect from "Focus on the Family." I'm suprised "Dr." Phil would do this, but I always thought he was an idiot anyway. This just confirms it.

Posted by: Rainbow Phoenix | Oct 29, 2008 6:16:38 PM

Were they discussing the recent discovery of the Transexual Gene?

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,24556699-23109,00.html

Posted by: Dick Mills | Oct 29, 2008 6:22:45 PM

I was hoping you'd cover this, JH. I was watching it about an hour ago and while being happily wrapped up in my NaNoWriMo project managed to get sucked into their discussion. The applause Stanton was getting from the audience absolutely fucking apalled me, and Siegel barely got a second glance from the token conservatives of the guest family Dr. Phil had. Ugh.

"Encourage them to take ballet, but in a masculine way!"

What a load of shit. I can't remember the last time I was so offended by anything on Dr. Phil's festering sore of a show.

Posted by: Alle | Oct 29, 2008 9:03:55 PM

My boyfriend is a clinical psychologist and the author of three books. Don't even get him started on Dr. Phil!

He believes that what Dr. Phil does is damaging to the field of Psychology and the people who are duped into believing he's a real therapist.

Posted by: Fritz | Oct 30, 2008 12:30:20 AM

*Most little boys have never been a man before. Most little girls have never been a woman before.*

Is he saying he believes in reincarnation? If *most* have never - how have some done it before?

But the premise of the show feeds into what evangelicals believe - "science" is just a flawed theory.

Posted by: Robguy | Oct 30, 2008 2:51:22 AM

I don't know what to be more pissed about; that someone is making an easy target out of Trans people, or that the guy is misrepresenting some of the better LBGT science out there. The research about Trans people is pretty conclusive, they exist. The only thing they should be talking about, is how best to look after your Trans child, and provide them with the help they need.

Posted by: Corvidae | Oct 30, 2008 8:53:56 AM

Uh. I don't think gender identity is all about what gender stereotypes you fit into. Gender roles, for the most part, were invented by society. But I really wouldn't know what it feels like.

Dr. Phil has always been pretty stupid. -.-

Posted by: Nami | Oct 30, 2008 10:56:04 AM

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