Keith Ablow's Mentor: What's Wrong With the 'Medical A-Team' Doc's Ideas

Ablow, Fox News health analyst, doesn't want kids watching Chaz Bono because, he says, it could turn them transsexual


Dr. Keith Ablow is an assistant clinical professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. So am I. Ablow has a problem with transgendered people. I do not. I first learned about Ablow's well publicized stance Wednesday via an email to the Tufts community, signed by the university's president, the dean of the medical school and the chair of the psychiatry department.

The thrust of Ablow's argument is that Chaz's being uplifted on the show will give kids "ideas." That's a ludicrous assertion.

The university reaffirmed its commitment to the complete inclusion of LGBT people, and made every effort to minimize Ablow's academic role, while putting off those calling for the school to revoke his appointment with an appeal to academic freedom. I'll set aside the question of whether the school should recalculate the value-for-title arrangement it has with someone who it insists contributes little but a whopping headache.

In addition to practicing medicine, Ablow is a media commentator. So am I. I'll leave it to you to weigh the relative exposure his opinion receives as a member of the Fox News "Medical A-Team" versus my spot here on our dear and venerable Atlantic. Suffice it to say, his September 2 opinion piece calling on parents to keep their children from watching Chaz Bono on Dancing With the Stars has kicked up quite a firestorm in response.

Those outraged by the article range from Tufts students who called for his resignation and painted "Tufts loves trans. Does Ablow?" on a canon (the campus landmark is already well accustomed to serving as a soapbox) to Lewis Black who told the Daily Show's audience: "I don't know if letting your kids watch Chaz Bono will turn them into transsexuals, but I'm pretty sure letting them watch Keith Ablow will turn them into assholes."

No less than the American Psychiatric Association's president responded (fittingly, to TMZ) that "There is no evidence that viewing a television game show with a transgender contestant would induce Gender Identity Disorder in young people."

GLAAD is calling on "responsible medical and mental health professionals to continue to clarify the unscientific misinformation promulgated by Keith Ablow and other anti-transgender activists."

As a medical professional with a media platform and a penchant for muckrakery I am happy to oblige.

Ablow attempted to stem the onslaught against his views by showing off his bona fides in a follow up Fox News column. He considers himself hot stuff:

Now, as for those journalists who contend that I have no experience from which to opine about gender identity disorder or sexual reassignment surgery or the influence of media on public behavior, please note I graduated the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where I studied with [Paul McHugh] himself. I also studied with Dr. Fred Berlin, director of the Sexual Behavior Consultation Unit at Johns Hopkins.

Paul McHugh is well known for questioning the wisdom of gender reassignment surgery. Little mystery there. But what about Fred Berlin, the other pivotal mentor Ablow cites to further pad his credibility? What does he think of his former protege?

Presented by

Ford Vox, MD, is a physician, based in Atlanta, who specializes in caring for people with complex brain injuries. He has written for Newsweek, Slate, and the Los Angeles Times.

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