BLOGMissed Again: Another Wave of Maggie’s Drawers

By Gary McCaleb Posted on: | June 23, 2016
About a week ago I wrote of Maggie’s Drawers—an old military term which means “you missed the target,” and explained several ways that Target stores missed the mark with a bathroom policy that elevates self-proclaimed transsexual status over the privacy interests of men, women, and children.

Several interesting conversations ensued, and a few of the opposing remarks merit a reply—and a wave of Maggie’s Drawers once again.

An aircraft mechanic—identifying as a transsexual woman—said the study I cited was “debunked.” That Swedish study raises serious concerns about sex realignment surgery—noting a tripled risk of patients’ death from all causes, and almost a twenty-fold increase in suicide rates in a trend that appears about ten years after surgery. The study drew conclusions after finding 324 persons out of 13.8 million who suffered a form of gender dysphoria and were surgically treated, then comparing their health history over 30 years to controls selected from the same national databases.

Objection One:  “I’m a successful, highly functional aircraft mechanic who has no inclination to suicide—so the study is therefore “debunked.”
Let me respond in aircraft terms: In 2009 there was a horrifying crash of a C-130 firefighting plane—the wings peeled off as it made its run, with fatal results. The culprit: hidden corrosion within the wings. The FAA immediately ordered an inspection of similar aircraft—and let’s say that 3% of inspected aircraft had serious corrosion. If one mechanic checked out their airplane and found no corrosion, that says nothing about the 3% that had it: corrosion is still identifiable and quantifiable, just as is death and suicide in the study.

Objection Two:  “Suicide is driven by ill treatment of transsexuals by society.”
Let’s assume (although research has yet to prove) that slurs and other social pressures do drive some to suicide. Would that assumption impact the study results, when Sweden has long affirmed transsexuals—and all of the patients in the study were carefully screened for mental and physical readiness (only 324 of 804 potential surgery patients were treated)? The study evaluated the “best” possible candidates for the treatment, living in a very affirming society. It seems most unlikely that societal pressures alone would result in nineteen times more suicides than expected in such a positive environment as Sweden.

Objection Three:  “It worked for me, therefore it’s the right treatment.”
But that is not an argument; it’s merely a data point that falls on the “no problems” side of the study’s results, which recognize that sex realignment surgery is well-received by some patients.

But the statement does point out the huge gap in knowledge about dealing with gender dysphoria. The gold standard for research is a randomized, double-blind study comparing an untreated control group with alternatively treated groups, all carefully matched for relevant characteristics. But no such study exists in the transsexual realm. Worse, almost all of the published papers are written by individuals with a major professional and financial interest in continuing the existing treatment model. That doesn’t mean that they intentionally skew results, but it is a challenge to be completely objective when your reputation and income are on the line.

Objection Four:  “No one’s rights should ‘trump another’s.’”
But that is exactly what the Target policy does: it places any claim to transsexual status above the normative modesty of women who do not want the opposite sex in the bathroom.

Consider this: a couple years ago I was on a community “task force” to evaluate a gender identity non-discrimination proposal. The main advocate for the measure was a man who ran his professional office as a man, but came to the task force dressed as a buxom blonde woman—still using his masculine name and voice, but insisted he was a woman. Under Target’s policy, if that man walks into the women’s room and a woman objects, she loses. Target will enforce his subjective sense of “gender” over the woman’s biological reality. Is Target not dealing a trump card there?


Join in the Discussion on Facebook
As this discussion continues, more objections will surely arise. Join us on Facebook and let’s talk. And if you need a little help, here’s a great piece on how to have a conversation about a controversial topic.

Gary McCaleb

Senior Counsel

Gary McCaleb serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a member of the Center for Cultural Engagement and Scholarship.

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