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September 2009 Archives

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The faculty of the Program in Human Sexuality invite you to explore the latest in sexual health research. PHS faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and research collaborators will present their work at our monthly Faculty Research Presentations. Join us at 12 noon - 1 PM at PHS, 1300 South 2nd Street, Room 142, Minneapolis, MN 55454. To RSVP or to request notice of future presentations, please email

Coleman-presentation.jpgSeptember 9, 2009
Eli Coleman, PhD

"Development of Sexual Identity, Barriers to Intimacy, and the Promotion of Sexual Health"
This presentation will review the development of the various aspects of sexual identity and models of identity formation.  Various sexual and gender identities will also be explored from a cross cultural perspective.  Measurement and constructions of sexual and gender identity will be discussed.  The development of a positive sexual identity is clearly linked to the development and maintenance of sexual health.   A positive sexual identity is essential for the development of healthy intimate relationships.  A model of sexual health and a model of the development of healthy intimate relationships will be presented.  A variety of common barriers to intimate relationships will be discussed.  Finally, it is recognized that healthy identity and intimacy functioning is dependent upon a sexually healthy environment.  The aspects of this environment will be discussed as well as a review of current efforts to promote a sexually healthier world from a public policy perspective.    

Save these dates -
Ocrober 14, 2009
Charles Helm, MA, "Juvenile Masculinity and Attachment"

November 11, 2009
Jon Grant, MD, JD, MPH, "Understanding and Treating Behavioral Addictions"

December 9, 2009
Dianne Berg, PhD, "Child and Adolescent Services at PHS"

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Welcome new PHS staff

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PHS welcomes the newest additions to our team Christine Mathiowetz, Heather Rylander, Jennifer Schumann, Hale Thompson, and Scott Vrieze.

Mathiowetz-BP.jpgChristine Mathiowetz is a research assistant for a Multi-state Recidivism Study Using Static-99 and Static-2002 Risk Scores and Tier Guidelines from the Adam Walsh Act at PHS.  Prior to this study, Mathiowetz helped to conduct research at PHS on the 30-Year Sexual Offender Recidivism Study.  She received her BA in psychology from the University of Minnesota.  She is currently completing her MA in marriage and family therapy at Argosy University and will be starting her internship at Twin Cities Play Therapy Center in the fall.  She plans to continue her education and start on her PsyD in clinical psychology immediately following her graduation.  Mathiowetz has experience with sexual abuse, eating disorders, and sexual offenders from her working at the Rape and Sexual Abuse Center, Anna Westin Foundation, and PHS.

Rylander-BP.jpgHeather Rylander is the newest student assistant in the front office of PHS clinic, the Center for Sexual Health.  Rylander is entering her sophomore year at the University of Minnesota.  She is majoring in English literature and minoring in studies in cinema and media culture.

Shumann-BP.jpgJennifer Schumann, MD, is a third year resident in psychiatry. She received her medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and graduated with an honors degree in zoology from Oregon State University. Schumann works with Jon Grant, MD, and Nancy Raymond, MD, in the treatment of psychiatric conditions. Her interests include child and adolescent mental health, gender identity, issues affecting the GLBT community, women's health, and sexuality.

Thompson-BP.jpgHale Thompson, MA, is a research assistant for All Gender Health Online at PHS. He earned his Bachelors in economics at the University of Chicago and has a Masters in sociology and a Graduate Certificate in Urban Planning and Community Development from the University of Illinois. Thompson begins work on his PhD in epidemiology at University of Minnesota this fall. His research interests include transgender health and HIV prevention, community-based participatory research, as well as the development of online tools as mechanisms for promoting transgender health and community-building.

Vrieze-BP.jpgScott Vrieze is a research assistant for a Multi-state Recidivism Study Using Static-99 and Static-2002 Risk Scores and Tier Guidelines from the Adam Walsh Act at PHS.  He received a BA in psychology and philosophy from the University of Minnesota and is currently pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology at the University, advised by William M. Grove.  Vrieze's research regards mathematical and psychometric characteristics of diagnosis, prognosis, and prediction of violent behavior, and how novel and defensible diagnostic and prognostic techniques can be made more available to clinicians.  He conducts research in mental disorder classification and numerical taxonomy, with a particular focus on externalizing and acting-out behaviors and disorders.  Finally, Vrieze is interested in the contribution of molecular genetics work to etiology in mental illness, and how an endophenotype approach may overcome current obstacles to finding individual genes that possess measurable effects on maladaptive behaviors.

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Coleman-MPA-award-color-BP.jpgEli Coleman, PhD, was honored by the Minnesota Psychological Association (MPA) with the Diversity Leadership Award at their annual meeting in Minneapolis on April 25, 2009.

The award is recognition of outstanding organizational and professional leadership in promoting diversity in Minnesota psychology.  BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya, PhD, presented the award to Coleman andsaid, "In the past, we would not have had the courage or insight to recognize the brilliant leadership and sacrifices that have been made for us in order to have a diverse experience of psychology.  But, today, I am honored to say that Dr. Eli Coleman, our nominee, has exhibited great leadership, courage, effort, and commitment in his efforts to change systems.  He has indeed broken down systemic barriers and has promoted diversity competence through practice, teaching, advocacy, and research.  It is on his shoulders that we all proudly stand."

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Anne McBean, MA, was honored with the first Faculty Mentor Award presented by the PHS postdoctoral fellows at the Family Medicine and Community Health Commencement on June 10, 2009.  McBean was unanimously selected as the inaugural honoree for her constant support and advocacy.  Graduating postdoctoral fellow, Katie Spencer, PhD, presented the award.  She said of McBean, "Not only does she provide excellent supervision and training in the Compulsive Sexual Behavior program, but she often makes herself available to post-docs for support, guidance, and mentorship in multiple areas of personal and professional growth. She is a strong voice for balance during the challenges of the intensive training of the fellowship. Her support, opinions, and sound clinical judgment are deeply appreciated by each of the fellows."  

McBean has provided clinical training and supervision for postdoctoral fellows since 1996.  She said, "I thoroughly enjoy working with the post docs and consider it one of the most rewarding parts of my work."  McBean is a graduate of Carleton College and received her MA in counseling psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1985.  She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, an instructor, and the coordinator of the Compulsive Sexual Behavior Treatment Program at PHS. Although she has been involved in all of the clinical programs at the Center for Sexual Health, her particular areas of expertise are the treatment of compulsive sexual behavior, sexual dysfunction, sex offender treatment, sexual abuse trauma, sexual orientation confusion/dysphoria, adolescent sexual concerns, parenting concerns around child sexuality issues, and couples concerns.  She assists in training medical students in addressing sexual concerns.  She is a certified Level II Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing practitioner. She has been involved in a variety of sexual health endeavors since her undergraduate years, and has had experience over the years in early childhood education, a variety of therapeutic services for adolescents, emergency and short term services for all ages, inpatient and outpatient therapy for compulsive sexual behavior, abuse recovery, the treatment of eating disorders, and various concerns regarding identity, dependency, and relationships. McBean has been instrumental in developing the compulsive sexual behavior treatment approach at the Center for Sexual Health and in training staff and post-doctorate fellows in this approach. She has presented trainings and workshops for both local and national audiences on the assessment and treatment of compulsive sexual behavior, compulsive sexual behavior in women, sexual issues for adolescents, and general sexuality counseling skills.

PHOTO:  left to right Scott Jacoby, Ashley Mercer, Anne McBean, Cesar Gonzalez, Alex Iantaffi - not pictured postdocs Katie Spencer & Zach White

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PHS has lost two pioneers with James Maddock, PhD, passing away on July 18, 2009, and Wilys Claire Nelson passing away on July 21, 2009.  We are thankful for their contributions to PHS and we will miss their wisdom, support, and advocacy.

Maddock-BP.jpgJim Maddock, PhD, was one of the founders of PHS.  He served as the program's director of training and coordinator of clinical services, and he developed the internship program that has evolved into our postdoctoral fellowship training program.  He worked throughout his life on issues of human sexuality and to promote sexuality education and treatment.  His family described Maddock as, "a rare combination of a University of Chicago intellectual and a kind hearted, sensitive human being.  He loved his work with students and consultees from all over the country, and was an innovative clinician and wise mentor."  Maddock received his PhD and MA in Religion/Personality Psychology from the University of Chicago.  He was Professor Emeritus in the University of Minnesota's Department of Family Social Science, former president of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, and co-founder of Meta Resources Psychotherapy and Training Institute, with his wife Noel Larson, PhD.  Larson is also a PHS alumna who was instrumental in developing our first approaches to treating incest victims and their families.  A celebration of Maddock's life was held on Sunday, August 16, 2009, at the University of Minnesota's McNeal Hall Atrium.

Nelson-BP.jpgAt PHS Wilys Claire Nelson worked as a Sexual Attitude Reassessment (SAR) small group leader, a counselor, and a speaker on hospice care and death and dying.  She believed in social justice and was a pioneer in the 1970s advocating for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender persons and working to teach the wider community to be fully inclusive.  At her memorial service Wilson Yates, PhD, said of Nelson, "the love of the neighbor and the good of the community were at the center of what she took with ultimate seriousness.  And never absent was the intertwining of both the personal and the social in her working out her way of being in the world.  The way she wore the mantel of this vision can be seen in how she addressed issues related to race and the civil rights movement; gender and the rights of women; sexuality and the search for both a personal and a cultural understanding of sexual health; the role of the church in its prophetic and communal life; and the nature and nurture of friendship and loving individuals through which she touched us all."  Nelson was a graduate of Macalester College and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Ordained by the United Church of Christ, her profession was hospital and hospice chaplaincy at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.  Nelson's husband James B. Nelson, PhD, was also committed to the work of PHS he collaborated to develop a seminary training program that became a national model of seminary sexuality education.  A memorial service was held for Nelson on August 3rd, 2009, at First Congregational Church of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

To read more about Maddock visit
Star Tribune

To read more about Nelson visit
Star Tribune

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PAHO-BP.jpgOn July 12-14, 2009, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) held an expert consultation in Panama City, Panama, to develop concrete recommendations for a regional multi-component action plan to address health needs and demands of the men who have sex with men (MSM) population.  Eli Coleman PhD, on behalf of PHS, was invited to participate and facilitate part of the meeting.  In addition, PHS postdoctoral fellow, Cesar Gonzales, PhD, was also invited to share his expertise in HIV prevention among MSM and transgender populations.  The objective of the consultation was to analyze factors and situations associated with health problems, social hardship, and poor quality of living among gay and bisexual men, and other MSM in Latin America.  Participants proposed a set of urgently needed interventions to meet the sexual health needs of MSM, including prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.  Forty participants were invited from all regions of the Americas with particular emphasis on experts from Latin America and the Caribbean including UN agencies in charge of the MSM/sexual diversity; experts in provision of HIV/STI, sexual health, mental health or addiction services to MSM populations; and experts in development of health services for specific target populations.  In order to activate these strategies throughout Latin American and the Caribbean PAHO will outline consultation recommendations technical document that is forthcoming.

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SexoGöteborg 2009

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WAS-pres-BP.jpgOn June 21-25, 2009, The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) convened its 19th World Congress for Sexual Health titled "Sexual Health and Rights: A Global Challenge" in Göteborg, Sweden.  The meeting brought together global sexual health experts including clinicians, researchers, educators, activists, and policy makers, to address the most urgent issues of contemporary sexual health.

The biennial meeting was designed to reflects the eight priorities of the WAS Declaration for the Millennium and echoes the urgent need for action to ensure sexual health and rights for all.  Lars-Gösta Dahlöf, President of the Congress encouraged participation by saying, "It is more than ever necessary to pool international resources to fight fear, prejudice, ignorance and violence, and to meet the challenge of safeguarding the core values of human sexuality, as we respect life itself, love, intimacy, pleasure and self-acknowledgement."

The conference was attended by a broad spectrum of medical experts from all parts of the world.  A grant from the Swedish Government sponsored attendees from many developing countries where the AIDS crisis severely impacts sexual health, and where basic sexual rights in areas such as education, healthcare, and individual choice are largely unrecognized.   In his welcome, WAS president, Eusebio Rubio-Aurioles, MD, PhD, said, "Sexual health is a prerequisite for wellness and the fulfillment of human potential. Human development cannot be achieved without sexual health: this is true for the individual, as it is for the couple, the community and for societies everywhere. Today, sexual health and the attainment of sexual rights for all need the urgent attention of the world's professionals and policymakers, as well as that of society at large. Actions to increase the respect and promotion of sexual rights and to improve sexual health are global priorities."

PHS poster presentations included
"Homophobia and Internalized Homophobia Among Men Who Have Sex with Men" Bean Robinson, PhD

"Conducting Sexuality Research Online with Hard-to-Reach Populations" Iantaffi Alessandra, PhD

Eli Coleman, PhD, participated in two symposiums "WAS:  30 years of work" and "Advocating for Sexual Health for the Millennium"

Eight principles from the Declaration for the Millennium
1. Recognize, promote, ensure and protect sexual rights for all
2. Advance toward gender equality and equity
3. Condemn, combat, and reduce all forms of sexuality related violence
4. Provide universal access to comprehensive sexuality education and information
5. Ensure that reproductive health programs recognize the centrality of sexual health
6. Halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections
7. Identify, address and treat sexual concerns, dysfunctions and disorders
8. Achieve recognition of sexual pleasure as a component of holistic health and wellbeing

Read more details about these eight principles and the complete Declaration for the Millennium

PHOTO:  WAS Presidents left to right Romano Forleo, Fernando Bianco, Alan Wabreck, Ruben Hernandez-Serrano, Eli Coleman, Marc Ganem, Eusebio Rubio-Aurioles

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2009 WPATH Symposium was the largest ever

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Bockting-at-WPATH-BP.jpgThe 21st World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Symposium was the largest in the Association's history, hosting 365 scientists, health care professionals, and guests from around the world.  Several PHS faculty and clinicians presented at the three-day conference that was held June 17 - 20, 2009, at the historic Oslo Holmenkollen Park Hotel Rica (parts of the hotel date back to 1894), one of Norway's largest conference hotels.

WPATH Executive Director, Bean Robinson, PhD, acknowledged, "I was worried that our Symposium would suffer from the effects of what we are now realizing was a worldwide recession.  To have record-breaking international attendance from many countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa and a healthy balance sheet helps us to advance the mission of our Association to promote evidence based care, education, research, advocacy, public policy and respect in transgender health. The fact that this great success occurred in the course of our collaboration with the Harry Benjamin Resource Center of Norway, a non-governmental organization founded by a trans woman who successfully advocated for the Norwegian government to provide full medical care for transsexuals, speaks to the benefits of scientific and community partnerships."

Started in 1979 the WPATH Symposium is held biennially to share research, treatment approaches, legal and human rights issues that will enhance the work of mental health professionals, the medical community, and legal and lay persons on behalf of individuals living with gender variance.  This year more than 140 papers, posters, and discussions covered topics ranging from sexual development, surgery, medical ethics, health and well being, psychological treatment, cultural context, identity and relationships, children and adolescents, law, and human rights.  The Symposium was supported financially by the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality, the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Norwegian Harry Benjamin Resource Center, the Tawani Foundation (located in Chicago, Illinois) and the The Open Society Institute, a subsidiary of the SOROS Foundation (located in New York City).

"The Norwegian Local Organizing Committee promised us the 'best symposium ever' and indeed, they delivered and then some," said Walter Bockting, PhD.  "The venue had an amazing view, the food was gourmet and abundant, and the scientific program was stellar.  We were honored by the attendance of the Crown Prince of Norway during the opening plenary.  We learned about new advances in the field of transgender health, particularly emphasizing further change toward recognition of a spectrum of gender variance in which the added value of being transgender is affirmed and celebrated.  As the new President of WPATH, I left Norway feeling extremely proud and ready to continue the important work of this unique professional association in collaboration with transgender community organizations worldwide."

The conference venue was located in the hills of Oslo overlooking the city center and the Oslo Fjord.  The social programming included a welcome reception at Oslo City Hall where attendees were greeted by the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang.  The "Taste of Norway" gala dinner was held at the beautiful Gamle Logen "Store Sal," and included folk music and dance with an extensive menu including Norwegian fish, seafood, and spekemat.  The Crown Prince of Norway, Prince Haakon Magnus, attended the opening ceremony and first plenary session and Anniken Huitfeldt, Minister of Children and Equality addressed Symposium participants on behalf of the Norwegian government. Their participation publicly affirmed the Norwegian government's support for the human rights and medical treatment of transgendered individuals.

The Harry Benjamin Distinguished Service Award was presented to Christine Wheeler, PhD (New York, USA).  At the meeting Dr. Bockting assumed the presidency of WPATH, a term he will hold until the next Symposium in 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Bean Robinson, PhD, continues as the Association's Executive Director. Eli Coleman, PhD, is a past president and is currently Chair of the Standards of Care Revision Committee.

Read the full address by Anniken Huitfeldt

Presentations and posters by PHS faculty and researchers included:
"The Rights of Incarcerated Trans People to Continuing Gender Reassignment Treatments" Walter Bockting, PhD, and Eli Coleman, PhD, participated in the workshop on law and medicine

"Stigma and Inherent Distress" Eli Coleman, PhD, participated in the working group report

"Understanding Sex Between FtM, Genderqueer People and Non-Transgender Men" Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD; Alessandra Iantaffi, PhD

"Sexual Risk Taking Among Transgender Persons who Have Sex with Men" Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD; Bean Robinson, PhD; Jeremy Grey, BA; Walter Bockting, PhD

"Where the Boys Are: Online Ethnography of Men Having Sex with Transgender Persons (MSTG)" Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD; Muriel Vernon, MA; Walter Bockting, PhD

"Views From Both Sides of the Bridge. The Influence of Gender on Transgender People's Experiences of Relationships" Alessandra Iantaffi, PhD; Walter Bockting, PhD

"A Systematic Evaluation of Transgender Health-Related Online Resources" Alessandra Iantaffi, PhD; Jeremy Grey, BA; Keith J. Horvath, PhD; Walter Bockting, PhD

"Understanding Sex Between Trans Women and Non-Transgender Men" Bean Robinson, PhD; David Valentine, PhD; Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD; Alessandra Iantaffi, PhD, Jeremy Grey, BA; Walter Bockting, PhD
"Shaping Transgender-Specific Healthcare Services: An Anthropological Account" Marieke van Eijk, MA

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Inaugural John Money lecture

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Ehrhardt-&-Money-BP.jpgJohn Money created an endowment at PHS to support a plenary lecture at the World Congress of Sexual Health sponsored by the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS).  On June 24, 2009, the first lecture was held as Anke Ehrhardt, PhD, presented "Gender, Youth, and Partner Choice" at the 19th World Congress for Sexual Health in Göteborg, Sweden.  In the spirit of John Money, Ehrhardt appealed for a public health approach to sexual issues and the support of sexual rights.

Ehrhardt is the Vice Chair for Academic Affairs and a Professor of Medical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University and has been the Director of the HIV Center since its beginning in 1987.  She is an internationally known researcher in the field of sexual and gender development of children, adolescents, and adults.  In 1972, along with Money, she published the landmark book Man & Woman, Boy & Girl: Gender Identity from Conception to Maturity.  For the past 25 years, her research has included a wide range of studies on determinants of sexual risk behavior among children, adolescents, heterosexual women and men, and the gay population, and on comprehensive approaches to preventing HIV and STD infection.

PHOTO:  Anke Ehrhardt, PhD, and John Money (on screen)
FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Eli Coleman, Anke Ehrhardt, Eusebio Rubio-Aurioles (WAS President)

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Diaz-BP.jpgPsychologist, activist, and scholar, Armando Diaz, traveled from Mexico City to study at PHS.  Diaz is working on his PhD in sociology at El Colegio de Mexico.  Inspired by Cara a Cara (Face to Face) an HIV prevention training program for community advocates that was created by PHS and conducted in Mexico, Diaz developed the educational program Hombres, conciencia y encuentros (Men, Awareness, and Encounters).  Diaz's training is designed to reduce social and personal vulnerability among gay men and men who have sex with men in urban and rural communities throughout Mexico.  Through presentations, workshops, and small group discussions, trainers focus on sexual diversity, masculinity, history, human rights, HIV/AIDS prevention, and physical and emotional health.  Starting locally in Guadalajara, the program has expanded to reach individuals from many areas of Mexico.  The group is now working with the Sexual Citizenship Network from Jalisco, National Vigilance Council in Sexual Diversity and HIV/AIDS.

Diaz has come to understand the importance of sexual health education and sexual rights.  Although many of the young LGBTI in Mexico are more open about their sexual identity, and there is a growing culture presence with GLBT parades and public gathering places, advocates still have work to do to achieve full integration.  Through their research Diaz and his colleagues found that many individuals young and old are challenged in constructing intimate relationships and many young people do not fully understand the potential impact of HIV.

Diaz believes that an empowered individual has the opportunity to look beyond his own needs to the needs of his community.  Ideally, strengthening a person strengthens the family, the community, the nation, and ultimately, the world.  "The world has been broken through the mistakes of discrimination and injustice.  The social acceptance of sexual diversity will help to align communities and right this history," said Diaz.  It is Diaz's hope that with acceptance an individual can turn his focus to other social issues like homelessness, poverty, and the environment.

While at PHS Diaz spent time consulting with Eli Coleman, PhD, as well as spending some time at a St. Paul clinic (La Clinica) to better understand the options and needs surrounding sexual health and HIV/AIDS for Latinos.   He also made time to explore materials in the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.  He was excited to find books about the GLBT rights movement in Mexico that he has not been able to locate at home.  Diaz feels that connecting the present to the past is very powerful.  He said, "history shows millennia of violence and discrimination and when one transgender person decides to live as he feels, when one lesbian chooses to love who she loves, and when one gay man decides to assume himself these people are changing the world by breaking the power structure of history.  I am fortunate to work with these individuals and to witness the change."

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EGriffin-BP.jpgOn June 3, 2009, Elizabeth Griffin, MA, met with PHS therapists to update them on recent trends in problematic online sexual behavior.

From the advent of the camera to the smart phones of today, new technology tends to spur new ways to explore sexuality.  For many people the Internet is a resource for finding information about their sexuality and sexual health.  For some individuals the Internet offers a place to explore aspects of their sexuality which can enhance their overall sexuality.  However, there is a percentage of people who explore sexuality on the Internet who develop problems with online sexual compulsivity which may crossover into illegal sexual activities.  Recent online sexual trends include enhanced video, live chatting, and new sex toys that can connect to the Internet.  Griffin said, "The Internet can be a wonderful tool to enhance sexuality and to gain information on sexuality - however it can also have a darker side - for some people engaging in online sexual behavior can become compulsive and destructive."  

Griffin educates a wide range of individuals through her trainings.  "Many family members, health care providers, and law enforcement professionals do not realize the breadth and depth of sex on the Internet," said Griffin.  By providing detailed information about technology and methods of use, Griffin can help law enforcement, therapists, church leaders, and others to better understand and assist individuals and families who might struggle with a problematic online behavior.  Griffin describes three key things that may indicate a problem:  first, an obsession with the activity; second, attempts to stop the behavior with no success; and third, continuing to engage in the behavior despite consequences like the loss of a relationship or a job.  Griffin advocates that therapists routinely assess for problematic online behavior of all types including compulsive gaming, shopping, and sex.  

Griffin's company Internet Behavior Consulting Company offers consultation, training, and intervention for problematic online behavior.  She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has co-authored two books, In the Shadows of the Net and Cybersex Unhooked.

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Beck-BP2.jpgPublisher, film maker, and doctor of erotology, Marianna Beck, PhD, visited Minneapolis to discuss the history and culture of sex with first year medical students.  

On June 3, 2009, Beck traveled from Chicago to present "Sex, Science, and Social Code" as part of the Human Sexuality Course taught by PHS faculty.  Her talk explored the historical and cultural attitudes surrounding the body, closely examining the historical approaches to the understanding of conception, perceived differences in male/female bodies and brains, and weird medical fads and other expressions surrounding the material culture of sex.  Beck believes that the context of religious and moral attitudes directly affect how we study medicine, "The convergence of science, sex, and culture has spawned some spectacularly bizarre movements and ideas -- occasionally amusing -- but more often horrific."  She added that while medical schools often focus on the most cutting edge research it is important to look back and "to be mindful that the history of medicine is replete with approaches more reflective of social codes than science. By looking at societal values and the material culture of sex, one can begin to unravel the often hidden intersection of what society professes to be and what it actually comprises."  

Inspired by recognizing historical connections through art, culture, and medicine, Beck currently teaches the Material Culture of Sex at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  She would like to expand her instruction to reach more medical students.  Beck started her career as a free-lance journalist and then co-founded the literary journal Libido: The Journal of Sex and Sensibility.  The journal was in circulation for 12 years and had an enthusiastic following of couple thousand subscribers in the United States as well as one subscriber on every continent including Antarctica.  The complete volumes of Libido are housed at the British Library and the Kinsey Institute.

Beck is also an award winning film maker.  Her projects include, Trial Run (2006), Orgasmic Women (2005), Orgasm: Faces of Ecstasy (2004), Urban Friction -- A Modern Romance; Ecstatic Moments (1999), and Sexual Ecstasy for Couples (1999).  In 1998 she received her PhD in erotology which is the study of the material culture of sex and explores all the different ways societies manifest sexual expression.

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Schroer-BP.jpgThe Department of Justice under the Obama administration did not appeal the Schroer v Library of Congress ruling by the deadline of June 30, 2009.  Last September Diane Schroer won her discrimination suit after a job offer was rescinded when she revealed her intentions to transition from male to female before her first day of work.

Schroer is a retired Army Special Forces colonel that worked at the Pentagon as the head of a classified anti-terrorism group; she was an ideal candidate for the Library's position of international terrorism analyst.  Schroer interviewed for the job as David Schroer, before she began the process of transitioning.  However, after she met with her new supervisor and revealed her intentions to transition the job offer was rescinded.

The Library of Congress was explicit that they fired Schroer because she is transgender, and the Bush administration argued that transgender individuals did not have protection against discrimination under federal law.  Now, the uncontested Schroer victory will help to make legal headway for transgender individuals.  In a statement from the ACLU, Schroer is quoted as saying, "I am grateful that the court took the time to examine the case in detail and come to a fair and unbiased decision. In that same light, I am gratified that the current administration saw this for what it was, a case of sex discrimination focused against transgender people, and recognized that it must end in this country.  The important signal that the administration's decision sends to all LGBT individuals gives me renewed hope and restores some of my shaken faith in what our country stands for."  

To read more about the case including legal documents, news, and to hear Schroer tell her story visit the ACLU

PHOTO:  Diane Schroer; credit Tom Williams

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India decriminalizes homosexuality

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India-BP.jpgOn July 2, 2009, India's High Court decriminalized homosexuality by removing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.  The historic judgment reverses a nearly 150-year old law which brought about sentences ranging from fines to a 10-year term in jail.  In his conclusion, Chief Justice Dr. S Muralidhar wrote, "Where society can display inclusiveness and understanding, such persons can be assured of a life of dignity and nondiscrimination. . . . It cannot be forgotten that discrimination is antithesis of equality and that it is the recognition of equality which will foster the dignity of every individual."  August marked gay pride celebrations in India, and this year they celebrated legally.

PHOTO credit:  158 at

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Glassgold-BP.jpgThe American Psychological Association (APA) adopted a resolution on August 5, 2009, which states that practitioners should avoid telling clients that they can change from gay to straight through therapy.  "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts" is the work of an APA task force which was convened to examine their standing recommendations.  

The task force conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed journals and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support claims that sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) -- often referred to as "conversion therapy" or "reparative therapy" -- actually works.  According to a statement released by the APA the resolution "advises that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and instead seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services 'that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.' "

Task force chair, Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, stated,
Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation.  Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.  At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex.

The task force recognized that some individuals who see SOCE treatment do so because of the distress that they feel from a conflict between their sexual desires and religious or cultural beliefs.  The resolution advises therapists "be completely honest about the likelihood of sexual orientation change, and that they help clients explore their assumptions and goals with respect to both religion and sexuality," said Glassgold.

Read the full resolution:
"Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts"

PHOTO: Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD; credit Grant Martin

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Letter from the Chair in Sexual Health

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Chair-BP.jpgThe global problem of psychotherapists' complicity in societal discrimination and stigma against gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals is reprehensible and must stop immediately.  Recently the American Psychological Association (APA) adopted a resolution which states that practitioners should avoid telling clients that they can change from gay to straight through therapy (see report in this issue of the newsletter).  I find it incredible that such a resolution is still needed in 2009.  But, unfortunately, the practice of "conversion therapy" or "reparative therapy" is still alive and well despite significant evidence that it does not work and it is highly unethical.

Thirty years ago, I published a review of treatment approaches to homosexuality that debunked the notion that homosexuality is a mental disorder and that it can be "cured."  I also presented evidence that these approaches were highly unethical, ineffective, and harmful.  That review along with a plethora of scientific research led to the 1973 decision of the APA to depathologize homosexuality as a mental disorder.  

I am very pleased to see this recent APA resolution which reiterates what we have known for a long time.  I hope that the message will be heard loudly around the world.

As I put forth thirty years ago, through therapy we need to assist gay, lesbian, bisexual, and "questioning" individuals to clarify their sexual orientation.  We need to help them to develop a positive self image, help them cultivate intimate relationships, and help them integrate their sexual orientation into a society that remains predominately heterosexist.  Our preoccupation with the etiology of homosexuality is misplaced, and we must shift our energies and focus to the study of the tremendous impact of stigma and discrimination and the develop methodologies to combat it.

I look forward to the day when our society is no longer heterosexist -- a day when all individuals can grow up and realize their true identity in terms of gender and sexual orientation.  And, I look forward to the day when the wide spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations is fully integrated into our society.

We have a long way to go to achieve this goal, and one essential step is to put outdated notions about homosexuality behind us to move toward a new, sexually healthy society.

Eli Coleman, PhD
Professor and Director
Academic Chair in Sexual Health

Coleman, E. (1978). Toward a new model of treatment of homosexuality: A review. Journal of Homosexuality, 3, 345-359.

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