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Hold Dr. Keith Ablow Responsible… NOW!

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Note: Updated 10/18/2011: Ablow is at it YET AGAIN and this time he is targeting an 11 YEAR OLD CHILD! In his newest professional anti-trans assertions, note how Ablow attempts to deflect being held accountable by claiming that his professional actions do not meet the dictionary definition of bullying. Since professional bullying is precisely one of the things I and a number of others accused Ablow of in our ethics complaints, I view his targeting of this trans CHILD particularly disgusting.   

Note: Updated 9/18/2011 @ 4:42 PM Central. Thank you Zoe and Genderqueer Riff Raff for your help in tracking down resource info!

Note: Update 9/19/2011, here’s my ethics complaint letter against Dr. Ablow before I sent it off today:


By now, you are probably aware of the disgusting and shameful professional behavior of Dr. Keith Ablow, a pop psychiatrist employed by Fox News. Here’s a quick refresher:

On September 2,  Dr. Keith Ablow, the Fox News psychiatrist, advised parents not to allow their children to see a transgender person on television because he feels that doing so might turn children into transsexuals.  The statement was made in response to an announcement that Chaz Bono, a transgender man, would appear on the next season of Dancing with the Stars:

“I advise parents to not allow their children to watch the episodes in which Chaz appears. Here’s why: Many of the children who might be watching will be establishing a sense of self which includes, of course, a sexual/gender identity. Some will be girls becoming comfortable with dramatic changes in their bodies. Some will be boys coming to terms with integrating the dawn of manhood with exquisite feelings of vulnerability. Young viewers will include tomboyish girls and sensitive, less stereotypically “masculine” boys. They will also include children who have sustained the losses of loved ones and are wrestling with depression, perhaps wondering who they are absent their deceased mothers or fathers.”
Keith Ablow for FOX News, 9/2/2011

Ten days later on the Howard Stern Show, Ablow claimed that transsexualism is like getting a tattoo: “… if a person came to me tattooed as a zebra,” adding, “I’m not going to have my kids watch a show in which people pretend to be farm animals.”  Ablow is famed for his Chris Angel-like “Street Therapy” addressing the traumas of strangers on the streets of New York and claiming to resolve their mental health issues within minutes. Ablow worked his way towards media celebrity in the 1980s working in New York television and writing columns for the Washington Post. He increased his celebrity as a frequent guest on day-time talk shows Sally Jesse Raphael, Maury Povich and Gerardo and “infotainment” programs Inside Edition and Glen Beck. Recently, Ablow has enjoyed best-selling author status after co-writing a book about family values with Glen Beck. He is now a paid commentator for Fox News. Ablow generated controversy earlier this year when he claimed that allowing a boy to paint his toe nails would cause him to become a transsexual. The Daily Show’s John Stewart spent a significant portion of his April 13, 2011 show openly mocking Ablow’s assertions.

Apparently mocking all trans people and specifically targeting and singling out one transsexual for his special attention wasn’t enough. Ablow doubled down on Sept. 16:

I stand by that advice.

I believe that mainstreaming behavior makes it more likely that others will engage in that behavior. I believe this is particularly true for those who are still forming a psychological identity—a firm sense of self. Children and adolescents certainly fit those criteria. There is a wealth of scientific data supporting that view, but many activists and media personalities and even some mental health professionals have taken issue with that claim.

Opioid dependence is, after all, a recognized psychiatric disorder in the DSM IV-TR, just like Gender Identity Disorder. Why would we discriminate against someone with a known psychiatric condition? Similarly, networks should be encouraged to have people on game shows who suffer with anorexia and who wish wholeheartedly—and quite sincerely—to be 80 pounds. They should cue the audience to get to their feet and applaud. What could the risk of that be?

I believe the risks are clear.

Keith Ablow for FOX News, 9/16/2011

Ablow has been denounced by most of his professional peers. To hit the point home as to how egregious his professional behavior has been, compare the misinformation Ablow continues (see above) to spread against the platform of the KKK (below):

“… the liberal government and its media encourage our young children to behave like primitive savages. Homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuals, sado-masochism, and every other type of vile perversion is [sic] applauded by the scum that control our country. The American Knights demand a return to sanity.”

- Platform of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

While Ablow and the Klan see eye to eye on this issue and seem to speak with the same voice, the time has come for us to use our voice!

Ablow has committed many professional ethics violations and the time has come for the community to report his violations. When Ablow obtained a license to practice, he agreed to abide by certain professional ethics. Specifically, his ability to continue practicing is contingent upon his adherence to the following  American Psychiatric Association’s ethical standards. The following list represents the ethical violations I feel Ablow is guilty of violating:

Section 1
A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care with compassion and  respect for human dignity and rights.

Ablow has publicly stated that transsexualism is like heroin addiction and obtaining tattoos. Furthermore, he has singled out and targeted one transsexual and in a very public way used his status as a licensed psychiatrist to make a number of disparaging comments about Chaz Bono.

Section 2
A physician shall uphold the standards of professionalism, be honest in all professional  interactions and strive to report physicians deficient in character or competence, or engaging in  fraud or deception to appropriate entities.

3. A psychiatrist who regularly practices outside his or her area of professional competence  should be considered unethical. Determination of professional competence should be made by peer review boards or other appropriate bodies.

Ablow is not a gender specialist; he is a trained forensic psychiatrist. He falsely presents himself to the entire nation as a psychiatric professional who is qualified to make pronouncements about the mental health of Chaz Bono and ALL transsexuals.

Section 5
A physician shall continue to study, apply, and advance scientific knowledge, maintain a  commitment to medical education, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues,  and the public, obtain consultation, and use the talents of other health professionals when  indicated.

1. Psychiatrists are responsible for their own continuing education and should be mindful of  the fact that theirs must be a lifetime of learning

Ablow has publicly rejected established scientific and professional knowledge the field of gender studies. The sitting president of the American Psychological Association has publicly denounced Ablows  statements about transsexualism.

In Ablows  9/12/11 Fox News post, he cites the debunked decades old opinions of a psychiatrist as being the basis of the ideas about transsexualism he is pushing on a national basis in his role as a licensed psychiatrist.

Section 7
A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community and the betterment of public health

1. Psychiatrists should foster the cooperation of those legitimately concerned with the medical, psychological, social, and legal aspects of mental health and illness. Psychiatrists are encouraged to serve society by advising and consulting with the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the government. A psychiatrist should clarify whether he/ she speaks as an  individual or as a representative of an organization. Furthermore, psychiatrists should avoid  cloaking their public statements with the authority of the profession.

3. On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media.  In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

Ablow has, in his role as a paid psychiatrist for Fox News, made numerous public assessments about Chaz Bono’s mental health without Bono’s consent. Ablow has publicly stated that transsexualism is like heroin addiction and obtaining tattoos. Furthermore, he has singled out and targeted one recently transitioned transsexual and in a very public way used his status as a licensed psychiatrist to make a number of disparaging public comments about Bono.

According to the American Psychiatric Association anyone with “personal knowledge of the alleged unethical conduct” may file a valid ethics complaint. When fining the complaint, refer to yourself as the  “Complainant” and to Ablow as the  “Accused Member.”

Ablow’s professional behavior has been deplorable. If you are trans or have a trans child, I urge you to fill out THIS ETHICS VIOLATION FORM and send it in!

The form used in Massachusetts is generalized for all medical doctors:

Page 1, Box 1:

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Page 1, Box 2:

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Page 1, Box 3:

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Page 2, Box 4:

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Page 2, Box 5:

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Page 2, Box 6:

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And, most importantly, Page 3, Box 7:

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Here is where it’s best to use your own words to describe how Ablow misused his status as a psychiatrist to push ideas not supported by current scientific consensus as being scientific fact, for singling out a recently transitioned transsexual for his special band of professional bullying by purposefully – via a national platform FOX News provides him as their paid psychiatrist – misgendering Bono and making Bono’s condition a subject of national scorn and mockery.

Specifically note the ethical sections he violated. Here’s what I’ve written. Please feel free to use what you like. You can certainly cut and paste the entire thing into your statement if you wish. However, I urge you to use your own words, ideas and insights.

Dr. Keith Ablow, from hereon referred to as the Accused Member has, on multiple public occasions, violated the American Psychiatric Association’s Principles of Medical Ethics code of professional behavior.

On 9/2/2011, The Accused Member, acting in his professional capacity as a psychiatrist for Fox News, stated “I advise parents to not allow their children to watch the episodes in which Chaz appears. Chaz Bono, the “transsexual” woman who underwent plastic surgery and takes male hormones in an effort to appear to be a man, and who asserts she is a man… Chaz Bono should not be applauded for asserting she is a man… Chaz Bono should not be applauded any more than someone who, tragically, believes that his species, rather than gender, is what is amiss and asks a plastic surgeon to build him a tail of flesh harvested from his abdomen. It’s position is that Chaz Bono’s chemically and surgically altered appearance is a blessing to us all, a triumph of autonomy and self-possession on par with the triumphs achieved by the heroes of the Civil Rights movement. That’s very nearly insane. So, here it is. One psychiatrist’s prescription, sure to cost me a lot of hate mail, but reward me with the certainty that I am stating what I believe to be true and that I am doing my job: If you care about your kids, don’t let them watch “Dancing with the Stars” starring Chaz Bono.”

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/09/02/dont-let-your-kids-watch-chaz-bono-on-dancing-with-stars

On 9/6/2011, The Accused Member, representing himself as an opinion leader within the psychiatric community, went on satellite radio ad said, “When somebody has taken a really torturous path–literally having breasts removed, injecting oneself with hormones and is mid-stream in that process and wants me and the rest of the nation and all of our kids to agree that he is a man–that’s reality bending… If you are inhabiting a male body and you believe yourself to be female you are essentially delusional.”

http://mediamatters.org/blog/201109120022

On 9/16/2011. The Accused Member, acting in his professional capacity as a psychiatrist for Fox News, stated “I stand by that advice… Opioid dependence is, after all, a recognized psychiatric disorder in the DSM IV-TR, just like Gender Identity Disorder… Similarly, networks should be encouraged to have people on game shows who suffer with anorexia and who wish wholeheartedly—and quite sincerely—to be 80 pounds.”

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/09/16/dr-paul-mchughs-views-on-gender-reassignment-surgery

I assert that the above professional statements violates the following sections of the Psychiatric Medical Ethics code:

Section 1

A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care with compassion and  respect for human dignity and rights.”

Section 2
A physician shall uphold the standards of professionalism, be honest in all professional  interactions and strive to report physicians deficient in character or competence, or engaging in  fraud or deception to appropriate entities.

3. A psychiatrist who regularly practices outside his or her area of professional competence  should be considered unethical. Determination of professional competence should be made by peer review boards or other appropriate bodies.

Section 5
A physician shall continue to study, apply, and advance scientific knowledge, maintain a  commitment to medical education, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues,  and the public, obtain consultation, and use the talents of other health professionals when  indicated.

1. Psychiatrists are responsible for their own continuing education and should be mindful of  the fact that theirs must be a lifetime of learning

Section 7
A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community and the betterment of public health

1. Psychiatrists should foster the cooperation of those legitimately concerned with the medical, psychological, social, and legal aspects of mental health and illness. Psychiatrists are encouraged to serve society by advising and consulting with the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the government. A psychiatrist should clarify whether he/ she speaks as an  individual or as a representative of an organization. Furthermore, psychiatrists should avoid  cloaking their public statements with the authority of the profession.

3. On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media.  In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

In violation of Section 1, Section 2 and Section 2 subsection 3 and Section 7 subsection 3, the Accused Member, in his professional role, chose to refer to Bono, who is legally a male, as a female in the national media on multiple occasions. Writing in his professional capacity as a psychiatrist, the Accused Member claimed, contrary to current scientific consensus on the matter, that transsexualism is like believing that one is a lizard, horse, monkey or some other species which possesses a tail. Furthermore the Accused Member, using  the unique national media reach afforded him as a paid psychiatrist for an international media organization, stated that from his point of view as a psychiatrist, people who are transsexual are “very nearly insane” and “delusional” – again, positions which are contrary to current scientific consensus.

In direction violation of Section 2 subsection 3 and Section 7 subsection 3, the Accused Member, a forensic psychiatrist, has made national statements about transsexuals and the nature of transsexualism. While the Accused Member is not a gender specialist, he used his unique status as a paid psychiatrist for an international media organization to make a number of statements which, while inconsistent with current scientific consensus, were nonetheless put forward by the Accused Member as mainstream scientific consensus. The Accused Member explicitly represents that he is qualified to make public assessments about the mental health of Mr. Bono as well as the mental health status of transsexuals as a group even though doing so is outside his area of professional competence.

The Accused Member’s professional statements are so contrary to scientific consensus that the sitting President of the American Psychiatric Association took the unprecedented step of publicly denouncing the Accused Member’s professional assertions about transsexualism. Even after receiving correction from APA, on 9/16/2011 the Accused Member stated via Fox News that he is choosing to disregard the guidance from the APA in favor of propagating decades old beliefs about transsexualism that are not consistent with current scientific consensus. He compounded his error by comparing transsexualism with heroin addiction. These actions are in violation of Section 5, Section 5 subsection 1, Section 7 and Section 7 subsections 1 and 2.

In violation of Section 1, Section 2, Section 2 subsection 3, Section 5, Section 7, Section 7 subsections 1 and 3, the Accused Member, acting in his role as a psychiatrist, targeted the recently transitioned transsexual man, Chaz Bono, in what amounts to professional bullying. The Accused Member has consistently and unrepentantly targeted Bono through a national campaign of misinformation and innuendo given validity by his status as a psychiatrist. Additionally, the Accused Member has consistently and unrepentantly targeted transgender people – a particularly vulnerable class of American citizens – through a national media campaign of misinformation and innuendo given validity by his status as a psychiatrist. Furthermore, the Accused Member, acting in his role as a psychiatrist, engaged in fear mongering by instructing parents to prevent their children from viewing a transgender person on television because, according to the Accused Member,  it could cause children to turn into transsexuals. This, as the Accused Member put it, “psychiatrist’s prescription” is completely unsupported by scientific consensus and yet, the Accused Member used his status as a psychiatrist to inspire unfounded fears in parents through an implied danger transsexuals pose to the mental health of our nation’s children.

Send your complaint to:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine
200 Harvard Mill Square, Suite 330
Wakefield, MA 01880
Phone:   (781) 876-8200     
Fax:         (781) 876-8383

Do not allow this man to continue his unethical professional behavior. I feel that his behavior is nothing more than bullying wrapped up in a professional guise of psychiatry. Please stand up to this professional bully now!

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20 Comments

  1. Cristan, Ablow is a psychiatrist, not a psychologist. From Ablow's wikipedia entry-

    Ablow was born and raised in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He graduated from Brown University in 1983, magna cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neurosciences. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1987, and completed his psychiatry residency at the Tufts-New England Medical Center."

    Which means that those who send their complaints to the American Psychology Association will be barking up the wrong tree. Ethics complaints would appropriately go to the state licensing board as you suggest, and/or to the Massachussetts Psychiatric Society – http://www.psychiatry-mps.org/

    You may want to apprise your readers of this.

  2. This is a great correction Cristen and this action will have an impact. Huffpo had a misleading article and he does present as a pop psychologist and peddles the kind of rhetoric that gets people killed be they gender non conforming or gender transgressors of any type – he is a sensationalist bully and your post does so much good in laying out the case and following him back to his roots as guy who writes more about being a doctor than he actually is one. He is has a MA license number and sickeningly offices here there and everywhere. The Medical Board of MA will hopefully hold his feet to the fire – this man is a disgrace to the profession and a hazard to people's health both mental and physical.

    thx again for the forms and information and your continuous advocacy – This abusive, ring master dangerous Forensic Psychiatrist must become known as a bully and an infamous danger He is a danger to people especially gender non conforming people and that makes a lot of us. Ablow is a bully and a quack like McHugh perhaps even more destructive with his wider audience via television etc. –
    gonna send something in for sure. There must be a push back.
    genderqueer riff raff

  3. And, for those willing to hold their nose and cite Ray Blanchard… the commonly-used phrase "I'm a man trapped in a woman's body" is an idea that on its face appears to be blatantly delusional; opponents of the availability of SRS (and more limited adaptations in transitioning) harp on its seeming irrationality continually… as does "Dr." Keith Ablow.

    Blanchard has strongly defended those who employ this phrase to describe their suffering from accusations of delusional disorder:

    Transsexualism is [not] a delusional disorder
    The phrase, “A woman trapped in a man’s body” (“Anima muliebris in corpore virili inclusa”) was originally used to describe male homosexuality. Transsexuals seized upon this phrase as the only language available for explaining their predicament to themselves and for communicating their feelings to others. The great majority of patients understand full well that this is a façon de parler, not a literal statement of fact, and are not delusional in any normal sense of the word.

    Or, more briefly:

    The great majority of patients understand full well that [the phrase "I am a woman trapped in a man's body" is] not a literal statement of fact, and are not delusional in any normal sense of the word.
    - Ray Blanchard, clinical psychologist and sexologist

    Blanchard, R., and Federoff, J. "The case for and against publicly funded transsexual surgery". PSYCHIATRY ROUNDS – DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO CENTRE FOR ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH TORONTO, ONTARIO, APRIL 2000 Volume 4, Issue 2".

    … which can be downloaded from http://www.autogynephilia.org/psychiatry_rounds.p… .

    I really love this statement by Dr. Blanchard, since I sent some months trying to convince a Wikipedian who has been active in editing articles relevant to transsexuality that transsexuals were not simply delusional… and this was the citation that got her to accept that transsexuals are not.

  4. While everyone here has their right to exercise their disgust and offense at Dr. Ablow's recent comments, don't you all think you are going a bit too far? The author, who also is a distinguished doctor, wrote a piece on his beliefs taken from years of practicing psychiatry. While, I do not politically agree with him, I do not think trying to ruin his credibility is going to get you anywhere. Maybe continuing to live out your beliefs and supporting your cause would be far more effective. Maybe educating others to be more open minded would make more of statement.
    Because just as there are haters, there are countless others who have benefited from Dr. Ablow. His piece, published in an Opinion section, is just that-an Opinion. And not a diagnosis. For the many letters arguing he was ethically incorrect, there would be more letters of support from the patients who have benefited from his counsel. It may be a controversial and somewhat cruel opinion, but that is still what it is. How many times does Dr. Phil give his opinion on air each day? Just saying…spend your time on tolerance, if that is what you preach, and not back lashing at hate. Ablow, politically incorrect (and harsh in choosing words)maybe, but a wise physician, one, as a patient, I would be in a much worse situation if I had never sought his counsel.
    Blessings.

    • Nope, I don't. He was acting in his professional role as a psychiatrist and propped up his lies and misinformation by wrapping it in the guise of psychiatry. Furthermore, he turned all that bullying – on a literal international scale – on one, recently transitioned transsexual. That's an ethical violation of the professional standards he agreed to uphold and if you can't grasp that, then we will need to agree to disagree.

      wrote a piece on his beliefs taken from years of practicing psychiatry.

      No, he didn't and that's one of the problems. He has no experience dealing with transsexuals. He is trained in criminal psychology and is qualified to give professional opinions on matters associated with the criminal mind. When the sitting president of the freaking APA comes out and publicly corrects you and you then publicly state that you choose to disregard the correction, that's not professionalism.

      This isn't a matter of Ablow saying, "Yah, I'm a psychiatrist… But, I'm not speaking as a psychiatrist right now. XYZ is my personal opinion." I would have no issue with him doing something like that. However, that's not what he did… is it? What he did was more like, "I'm a psychiatrist and as a psychiatrist I say transsexuals are dangerous to your kids. Also, I don't care what my professional peers and organizations have to say… As a psychiatrist, I say Bono is a danger to your children because he is a transsexual." Those are two very different scenarios and to paint what Ablow did as being scenario 1 is incredibly disingenuous.

  5. “Opioid dependence is, after all, a recognized psychiatric disorder in the DSM IV-TR, just like Gender Identity Disorder. Why would we discriminate against someone with a known psychiatric condition?” – Ablow

    Interestingly enough, I haven’t heard a PEEP out of “Dr.” Ablow warning parents not to let their children watch DWTS because of David Arquette being on it, even though he sought treatment for his addiction just last January. Not a word from Ablow about Kristin Cavallari’s alleged public use of cocaine. Nothing about Chynna Phillips entering rehab in early 2010 either.

    I’d say that Ablow’s main beef is that he’s squicked by transsexuals, and he hasn’t got a single professional reason for writing and saying what he has about Chaz, it’s all just Ablow’s own personal hate ruling him.

  6. Every coin has two sides. Get real, if a genuine professional view differs from what the gay community holds as their gospel, that person is slandered as a fake. Let's bring out the fact that there are just as many opinions that will parallel Dr. Ablow's as those against.

    Dr. Jim Puetz

    • Ever heard of a false dichotomy? I’m sure you have. In fact, I’m certain you know exactly what type of fallacious argument you’ve constructed.

      This isn’t about not allowing somebody to have an openion. This is about a psychiatrist – acting in his professional role – making false statements about the dangers transsexuals pose to children in the international media and then doubling down on his misinformation and fearmongering campaign after he is corrected by his peers and the professional community.

      Let’s bring out the fact that there are just as many opinions that will parallel Dr. Ablow’s as those against. Dr. Jim Puetz

      Really? Well, cite them. Since the the APA and WPATH all reject the ideas Ablow is pushing, there must be 1000s of psychiatrists who agree with Ablow since 1000s reject what he has claimed. List just 25 of them that support Ablow’s claims. Also, you do realize that the psychological condition Ablow points to as being proof of some profound mental deficiency in transsexuals has been removed from the DSM V, don’t you? Are you asserting that Ablow is too stupid to know that this mental “condition” has been removed from the book he cites?

      Yes, lets do “get real” doctor. BTW, why did you put your credentials in your post? You have a doctor of philosophy and have taught marketing to people who dream of having corporate jobs. Do you believe that this gives you special insight into medical conditions? Or, are you trying to give false gravitas to your assertions?

      Hubris much doctor?

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