Open letter to WPATH opposing the undemocratic election process for officers

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Update: WPATH has responded to the open letter and petition. You may read their response here.

To the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of WPATH,

We are concerned WPATH members, trans community members, and allies writing to share our disappointment about Dr. Baudewijntje Kreukels’s sole nomination and election to the position of treasurer. We are concerned that Dr. Kreukels’ election to the position of treasurer is not in the best interests of transgender communities, that the process by which the nomination occured was undemocratic, and that it calls into doubt WPATH’s commitment to trans wellbeing and the democratic election of leadership.

At a time when transgender people are under attack from various sides and see their rights to equality and access to healthcare threatened, it is essential that WPATH uses its voice to uniformly express and demonstrate commitment to the autonomy and humanity of transgender people.

We are concerned by the undemocratic process which led to Dr. Kreukels’ nomination on the slate of officers. The WPATH BoD’s selection of electoral slates in the previous election was challenged at WPATH Amsterdam and, at that time, a commitment was made to return to open voting. We wonder what happened to this commitment. Members of WPATH should have the opportunity to vote for individual candidates rather than accepting or rejecting the slate of officers as a whole, a process that seems peculiar in its anti democratic nature. We are also discomfited by reports that Dr. Kreukels was put on the ballot bypassing approval from the BoD and  in apparent violation of the bylaws. This kind of irregularity and lack of transparency erodes professional trust in WPATH.

We call upon WPATH to institute a democratic and open process for the election of officers, where members are allowed to choose between various candidates, and all those who submit their candidacy allowed to run. WPATH should communicate their efforts to return to this process openly, and on the organizational website.

We, the undersigned, firmly believe that concepts like autogynephilia and transvestic fetishism are not only outdated, but also, more critically, contrary to the current state of scientific knowledge and WPATH’s own guidance. This ideology is dangerous. It opens the door to a revival of reparative therapy for transgender adults, it risks undoing decades of progress toward trans equality, and it contributes to the stereotyping and dehumanisation of transgender people. Queer transgender women are not men with misdirected heterosexual impulses; to suggest otherwise is an affront to the experiences and concerns of trans people, as well as to the current state of scientific evidences.

In an article co-written in 2016—just two years ago—with Drs. Kenneth Zucker and Anne Lawrence (Annu. Rev. Clin. Psychol., vol. 12, 217–47), Dr. Kreukels argued for the reintroduction of autogynephilia and transvestic fetishism in transgender psychiatric classifications. The article also calls into question the rejection, made clear in the 7th edition of the WPATH Standards of Care, of clinical  attempts to align a person’s gender identity with their gender assigned at birth.

We believe that it is untenable for a member of the WPATH Executive Committee (EC) or Board of Directors (BoD) to hold such positions, which contradict the mission and spirit of the organization. Undoing harmful stereotypes is essential to WPATH’s mission of promoting high-quality care for trans people internationally. Clear commitment to a non-pathologizing view of trans people’s gender identities should be a non-negotiable and explicit requirement for any position in WPATH.

We call upon the present and future members of the WPATH BoD and EC to formally reiterate their rejection of autogynephilia, transvestic fetishism, and reparative therapy, to enshrine that rejection in the organizational bylaws, and to commit to ensuring that this is not a position held or furthered by members of the BoD or EC currently nor in the future.

Finally, we invite Dr. Kreukels to publicly disavow the positions expressed in the aforementioned article and commit herself to pursuing scholarship and clinical work in transgender healthcare that aligns with WPATH’s mission. If she is unwilling to do so, she should step down from her position as treasurer.

Respectfully but firmly,

Noah Adams, MSW
Dr Y. Gavriel Ansara, PhD Psych, MSc Soc Psych, MCouns
Florence Ashley, BCL/LLB
Alexandre Baril, PhD
Dr. Meg-John Barker, PhD
Gaines Blasdel
Danielle Castro, MA, MFT
Sand Chang, PhD
Jennifer L. Collins, LCSW
Devon Rose Davis
Dana Delgardo, ANP-BC, AAHIVS
Joseph Dhara, MS, MFT
James Dinh, LCSW
Martha M. Dunkley, Dip Couns
Morgan Faeder, MD, PhD
Jaimie Hileman, BS
Dara Hoffman-Fox, LPC
Dr. Alex Iantaffi, PhD, MS, SEP, CST, LMFT
Laura A. Jacobs, LCSW-R
S.J. Langer, LCSW-R
Jolene Racquel LaSalle
M. Dru Levasseur, JD
Margaret Nichols, PhD
Dr. Ruth Pearce, PhD
Esther Roth-Colson, BA
Cianán Russell, PhD
Leo Rutherford, MA
Dr. Julia Temple Newhook, PhD
Dr. Jemma Tosh, PhD
Michael Toze, PhD
Dr. Jos Twist, DClinPsych
Lida N. Vala, MA, LMFT
Dr. Mijke van der Drift
JS Very, LMFT
Dr. Ben Vincent, PhD
Joël Xavier

You may read more about Dr. Kreukels' positions here.



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