Richard Green (6 June 1936 – 6 April 2019) was an American sexologist, psychiatrist, lawyer, and author specializing in homosexuality and transsexualism, specifically gender identity disorder in children. Green was the founding editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior (1971) and served as Editor until 2001. He was also the founding president of the International Academy of Sex Research (1975), which made the Archives its official publication. He served on the American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV Subcommittee on Gender Identity Disorders.
Education and career
Green was born in Brooklyn, New York. He earned his BA from Syracuse University in 1957, his MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1961, and his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1987.
During his medical studies at Johns Hopkins, Green met John Money, who was an assistant professor there and started collaborating with him on research, initially on boys displaying substantial cross-gender behavior. In Money’s obituary, Green acknowledges Money and Robert Stoller, as well as his father, Leo H. Green, for having set the course for his life and career. In the mid-1960s, Money introduced Green to Harry Benjamin, whom Green acknowledges as having “further honed” his career. In 1969 Green and Money co-edited “Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment,” published by Johns Hopkins Press.
Green was the founding editor of Archives of Sexual Behavior in 1971, serving as Editor for 30 years. In 1974 Green and the board of the new journal established the International Academy of Sex Research, with Green as the founding president; the Archives became the official publication of the Academy. The new organization had a more selective membership than Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), which published the leading US sexology journal of the time, The Journal of Sex Research. The IASR membership has a more medical and biological emphasis, and only accepts applications from published researchers. The IASR also has a more general approach, alternatively meeting in the US and other countries every year. Eventually, the Archives became a premier journal in its field. Green retired as Editor of Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2001 and Editorship was continued by Kenneth Zucker.
In 1979 Green was a founding committee member of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association and served as president from 1997–1999. He previously directed the human sexuality program at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He was at various times Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, Professor of Psychiatry at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and Professor of Psychological Medicine, Imperial College, London. He was on the faculty of Law at UCLA and Cambridge. He was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1994. Green served as President of HBIGDA, now known as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, from 1997 to 1999.
Clinical vignettes from Green’s work on gender identity disorder appear in widely used textbooks, such as Kaplan and Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry (10th ed.) The term “gender identity disorder” itself introduced in DSM-III was taken from Green’s 1974 work. Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults. New York, Basic Books. He served on the American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV Subcommittee on Gender Identity Disorders. In 2006 he was awarded the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal for Sexual Research.
Green was research director and consultant psychiatrist at the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital in London and Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Criminology, Cambridge and Member of Darwin College, Cambridge. His partner since 1988, Melissa Hines, is a professor of psychology at the Faculty of Politics, Psychology, Sociology and International Studies, University of Cambridge.
Green was co-counsel for Elke Sommer in her libel suit against Zsa Zsa Gabor. He was co-counsel with the ACLU in a case challenging the Boy Scouts for refusing membership to a young gay man in California—Curran v. Mount Diablo Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Views and controversies
During the APA’s heated debate in the early 1970s about the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness, Green argued forcefully in favor of declassification. He explained that the grounds for deciding the issue should be the “historical and cross-cultural groundings in homosexual expression, associated psychiatric features accompanying a homosexual orientation, the emotional consequences to the homosexual of societal condemnation, and behaviors of other species”. Green applauded the final APA decision while strongly criticizing the fact that the administration put it to a vote, saying that such “a shotgun marriage between science and democracy” was “ludicrous”.
In his work, on gender identity in children, Green used common English expressions like “sissy boy” and “tomboy” in the titles of some of his publications. His choice of terminology attracted several criticisms over its political correctness.
In 2002, he initiated a debate in a special issue of the Archives of Sexual Behavior regarding the extent to which pedophilia should be classified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, without intruding on the legal and law enforcement aspects. It concluded that sexual arousal to children is subjectively reported “in a substantial minority of “normal” people,” and reviewed the level of social acceptance of this historically, but stated that such observations might not entail cultural or legal acceptance today. The paper also raised specific concerns about the DSM-IV definition, some of which were later acknowledged by Ray Blanchard in his literature review for the DSM-5 workgroup, which proposed a more general nomenclature distinction between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders; this proposal is part of the DSM-5 draft. In 2010, however, Green criticized in stronger terms Blanchard’s plan to introduce hebephilia as a mental disorder in the DSM-5 (as a subtype the proposed pedohebephilic disorder). Pointing to the legal age of sexual consent in several countries of Europe, this would declare 19-year-olds engaged sexually with 14-year-olds as having a mental disorder.
In terms of research on the biology and sexual orientation, Green was optimistic about progress and told a reporter that “I suspect that at least in your lifetime we will find a gene that contributes substantially to sexual orientation.