On Friday, the New York Times published a story profiling Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, a prominent psychiatrist who recently retracted and apologized for a study he conducted in 2003 which purported to demonstrate that some people actually could change their sexual orientation through therapy. In a recent letter to Dr. Ken Zucker, the editor of the journal that published Spitzer's study, Spitzer wrote:
I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.
With Spitzer's apology, perhaps the last iota of 'credible' scientific evidence for the belief that gays and lesbians can be 'cured' of their homosexuality has vanished. Unfortunately, few of the news networks that touted Spitzer's study in 2003 have covered its retraction.
In fact, the belief that a person's sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed is still alive and well at Fox News thanks to the work of Dr. Keith Ablow - a member of network's “Medical A-Team.”
Ablow is notorious for peddling the false idea that children might decide to identify as transgender if they see a happy transgender person - like Dancing with the Stars' Chaz Bono - on television. He's also suggested that using pink nail polish and having same-sex parents might similarly cause children to abandon their gender identity. He's been open about his belief that transgender people are suffering from "psychotic delusions" and should be encouraged, through therapy, to identify as their biological sex.
Ablow has also voiced his support for the claim that homosexuality is a product of environmental factors and, as a result, can be changed or reversed. In the past year alone, Ablow has argued that:
- Homosexuality can be caused by environmental factors, including a lack of access to women
- Homosexuality can be caused by "unresolved issues" with important females in adolescence
- Homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice"
And last week, Ablow condemned the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for declassifying Ego-Dystonic Homosexuality (EDH) as a mental illness in 1987. EDH, which was the diagnosis given to people who were distressed by their same-sex attractions, continues to play an important role in the pseudoscientific research produced by modern “ex-gay” groups today.
Although Ablow has thus far avoided explicitly condoning “ex-gay” therapy, he's provided all of the allegedly 'expert' medical opinion one would need to buy into the myth that LGBT people can be 'cured': LGBT people made a choice, they're LGBT because of bad parenting, their identities can be influenced by external factors, etc.
So while Spitzer's apology seems to have left reparative therapy in critical condition, over at Fox News, the doctor is in.