OII receives a letter from Dr Zucker’s legal representatives

March 21, 2009

OII logoLooks like it’s not only Lynn Conway who’s out of favour with Kenneth Zucker. Less than a month since Lynn talked about being sued for libel for speaking out against Dr Zucker’s appointment to the APA Task Force, the OII’s Curtis Hinkle, over at Intersex News, says he’s received a request from Dr Zucker’s representatives to remove information about certain allegations against Zucker from the OII website.

It’s curious that Dr Zucker would make such a request when, according to Curtis, “OII never published any false statements or misleading information on the page in question”. That page, apparently, published information about serious allegations made against Dr Zucker by one of his former clients. Curtis felt that the details should be reported to WPATH and other authorities. (Dr Zucker is a professional member of WPATH)

Additionally:

Curtis Hinkle, the founder of OII, has lodged complaints against Ken Zucker concerning many different ethical issues with the APA and pending the ongoing Federal and professional investigations

(Via Intersex News)

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Dr Zucker is seeking to silence any commentary that might show him in a bad light, although his legal representatives are keen to point out that:

Our clients are not trying to intimidate you or your organization and strongly deny any allegation that they are trying to stifle free speech.

(Via copy of the letter to Curtis Hinkle, direct link to PDF here)

But:

The OII Open Letter to WPATH has been online since the early summer of 2008. Zucker and his WPATH colleagues knew about it all that time, but Zucker has not complained to OII about it until now. So why now? Recently, in what appears to have been an attempt to suppress Lynn Conway’s website, Zucker and Petersen falsely accused Dr. Lynn Conway of “libel” for simply linking to the OII Open Letter to WPATH from her Trans News Updates. The OII Open Letter to WPATH was clearly “news” in the Transgender community, and it was common for readers to link to it from their blogs and web pages. Thus it quickly became clear that Zucker had falsely accused Dr. Conway of libel for simply linking to that page – especially since Zucker had never complained to OII about the page in the first place. It appears that Zucker’s and Petersen’s recent letter to OII is an effort in damage control, i.e., an attempt to retroactively cover up the fact that they had not complained about it before.

(Via Intersex News)

I find it disturbing that Dr Zucker apparently has such a zeal for litigation against the more high profile members of the trans and intersex communities. In his professional life he already wields considerable power, and his position as Chair of the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group for DSM Revision confers still more. I wonder who will be next to receive a letter from his legal representatives.

And, like Curtis, I also wonder at the timing of these threats. The APA’s website sets out the schedule of an imminent round of presentations by members of the DSM Work Group at various professional meetings:

  • Society for Sex Therapy and Research (April, 2009)
  • American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting (May, 2009)
  • World Professional Association for Transgendered Health (June, 2009)
  • International Academy of Sex Research (August, 2009)

(Via Report of the DSM-V Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group, November 2008)

A more cynical person than I might be tempted to conclude that – despite the protestations of his legal representatives – Dr Zucker is attempting to ensure that there will be no potentially disparaging remarks made by any of the more influential members of the TS and IS communities to coincide with any of these presentations. Also, according to Wikipedia, an early draft of the DSM-V will be released for comment in 2009.

On the other hand, it may simply be a rather heavy-handed attempt to extend the apparent tendency towards secrecy around the development of the DSM-V, as suggested by Robert Spitzer in his editorial of October last year, called Issues for DSM-V: Developing DSM-V in Secret (direct link to MS Word document).

Perhaps we shall never know the true story.

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Here are the links to my previous posts (newest first) on DSM related topics:

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