Health and Wellness

It’s a first: Johns Hopkins loses points with HRC for anti-LGBTQ stance

Dr. Lawrence Mayer, left, and Dr. Paul McHugh

Dean Hamer, Ph.D., and scientist emeritus at the National Institutes of Health, blasted Mayer and McHugh’s claims that sexual orientation is chosen and not fixed, and that gay people are not “born gay” as “pure balderdash.” Hamer noted in expert detail how McHugh and Mayer cherry-picked studies and spun their findings to bolster their conservative conclusions, in The Advocate. “When the data we have struggled so long and hard to collect is twisted and misinterpreted by people who call themselves scientists, and who receive the benefits and protection of a mainstream institution such as John Hopkins Medical School, it disgusts me,” Dr. Hamer wrote.

All this, said McBride, “raises questions about the kind of care [transgender people] will receive at Hopkins. It makes them feel less safe, less secure. And those feelings put up barriers to the kind of care trans people need when they go to Hopkins.”
She knows that feeling all too well.
McBride’s late husband, Andy Cray, was a 28-year-old trans man and a patient at Hopkins throughout his struggle with oral cancer. She told of his heroic battle in a loving post on Medium, but revealed another side of that emotional story during the phone interview.
Sarah McBride, left, and Andy Cray Sarah McBride

“We were cautious,” McBride told LGBTQ Nation, acknowledging that while the hospital had a sterling reputation for cancer treatment, they had other concerns for Andy’s care.

Throughout his care at Hopkins, in the back of our minds was always the knowledge of Hopkins’ troubled history on trans issues, and the fact there were prominent Hopkins professors, utilizing the Hopkins name to peddle junk science on transgender people. So, throughout his battle with cancer, throughout the threat of what would become terminal cancer, in the back of his mind and the back of my mind was this constant fear that the care that he would be getting from Hopkins would be subpar. That the history of the institution… would even subtly diminish the quality of care that he received. 
Andy Cray died in August 2014, four days after their wedding.
Sarah McBride

McBride has been part of the team meeting and corresponding with Johns Hopkins for the better part of a year in hopes of showing its staff that it needs to disavow McHugh and Mayer. While the university has balked at that, nearly 700 members of the Johns Hopkins community signed a formal petition asking officials to declare they do not support their “misguided, misinformed attack on LGBT communities.”

Since it didn’t happen, HRC made good on a promise made both privately and in the press, to publicly admonish Johns Hopkins for refusing to disavow Drs. McHugh and Mayer’s work. In its HEI report, the group explains what it will take to remove the 25-point deduction.

We have asked that they make it clear that while Drs. McHugh and Mayer are free to pursue their areas of interest and express their point of view and opinions, their opinions on LGBTQ people are their own and do not reflect the views of the Johns Hopkins University or Johns Hopkins Medicine. Furthermore, we would like them to confirm that Johns Hopkins Medicine operates in accordance with the positions of leading medical organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and other leading medical organizations that support affirming care for LGBTQ people.

“It’s on the institution to make clear, to make it explicitly clear,” McBride said, “that they will treat transgender people in accordance with the medical consensus and the Standards of Care that exist, whether that’s for transition-related care or treatment that’s unrelated.”

Editor’s Note: A Johns Hopkins spokesperson sent LGBTQ Nation this statement in response to HRC’s ranking, just minutes after our report was published. The statement does not directly address HRC’s request that Johns Hopkins distance itself from McHugh and Mayer:

The Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health System are deeply committed to inclusiveness, including respect and support for our LGBTQ students, patients, employees and other members of the Johns Hopkins community.

As one of the world’s leading research institutions, we value scientific integrity and academic freedom. A cornerstone of that academic freedom at Johns Hopkins and across the country is a faculty member’s ability to express views and have those views tested by the criticism of those who disagree.

In 2016, we were awarded leadership status as part of the HRC Healthcare Equality Index.  Since that time, we have continued to expand on our commitment to provide the best possible care to all patients that we have the privilege of serving.  This includes the development of our Center for Transgender Health, a Johns Hopkins multidisciplinary center focused on supporting the needs of the LGBTQ community.  While we can appreciate the opinions of outside organizations, the outcomes of our patients, and the satisfaction of our patients and their families who come to Johns Hopkins Medicine seeking help, are the ultimate measures of our success.

It also should be noted that HRC bestowed its coveted “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” designation upon 303 medical institutions this year, but Johns Hopkins was not one of them.

To find out more about why HRC deducted points from Johns Hopkins’ score, check out HRC’s page for the hospital, and to learn about other institutions and their rankings in the 2017 Healthcare Equality Index, visit HRC’s HEI page.

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