Comprehensive review’ of ‘assumptions or errors about sex and gender’
Harvard Medical School recently unveiled a project called the Sexual and Gender Minorities Health Equity Initiative styled as “a three-year plan to amend the core MD curriculum” to reflect recent beliefs about transgenderism and gender ideology. The program is meant to teach medical students how to “provide high-quality, holistic health care for sexual and gender minority patients of all ages.”
The new program seeks a broad overhaul of the medical school’s curriculum in order to eliminate “assumptions or errors about sex and gender, such as conflating sexual orientation with gender identity, presuming gender is immutable or treating heterosexuality as a default.”
“The plan encompasses curriculum reform, faculty development, continuous quality assessment and global dissemination, as well as increased efforts to recruit and support students, faculty and staff with interests or experience in [sexual and gender minority] health,” the announcement on Harvard Medical’s website reads.
The College Fix reached out to numerous officials at the medical school for more information on the planned overhaul. Harvard Medical School Dean for Medical Education Edward Hundert did not respond to The Fix‘s queries. Faculty members John Dalrymple, Jennifer Potter, Alex Keuroghlian, and Jessica Halem, who are leading the initiative, also failed to respond to queries on the matter. The Fix also asked officials at the school for a copy of the initiative and clarification on which elements of the curriculum are subject to change; the school did not respond.
Late last year, the medical school was similarly tight-lipped about their in-house teachings on sex and gender after the school denounced the Trump Health and Human Services Department’s move to officially define sex based on an individual’s immutable biology. The school called the definition “medically inaccurate” but wouldn’t say why.
On Harvard Medical’s website, Halem describes the initiative’s goals as “unearthing where wrong ideas are unwittingly getting cemented in people’s heads and correcting them from the beginning so they don’t have to be unlearned later. [The initiative is] about rewriting the stories and the language we use, built around a better understanding of how sex and gender really work in people’s lives.”
This will be the second overhaul of Harvard’s MD curriculum in less than four years, with the last “bold revision” occurring in Aug. of 2015, according to the school.
According to the school’s website, the initiative was motivated in part by the reality that “transgender people alone experience disproportionate rates of suicide, homelessness, substance use, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, mental health disorders and victimization.”
The College Fix inquired if Harvard Medical School had any concerns about the efficacy of transgender surgery in ameliorating the mental health problems experienced by transgender individuals. No officials responded on the matter.
Currently, the success rate of so-called sex reassignment surgery when it comes to addressing the mental and not merely cosmetic struggles of gender dysphoria is hotly contested. Many experts caution that it is too soon to tell if gender reassignment surgery is of net benefit to its recipients, and some have gone as far as to say it is not.
Harvard’s health plan has been covering gender reassignment surgery since the fall of 2011, and “Surgical Gender Affirmation” was a featured topic of the Advancing Excellence in Transgender Health conference that Harvard Medical School hosted last fall.
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