Richard Green

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Richard Green

Richard Green (6 June 1936 – 6 April 2019) was an American-British 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 for 30 years until 2001. He was also the founding president of the International Academy of Sex Research (1975), which made the Archives its official publication. The Academy and the Archives owe their existence, in part, to Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Foundation, which supported these causes as well as providing financial assistance to facilitate sex research.[1]

Green served on the American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV Subcommittee on Gender Identity Disorders, and played a pivotal role in the removal of homosexuality as mental illness from American psychiatry. In 1979, Green was a founding committee member of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, later renamed the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), and served as president from 1997 to 1999. As of July 2023, the English Wikipedia page for Green cites and quotes some of Green's earlier publications from the 1960s and 1970s, which reproduce then-commonly accepted thinking and guidelines around re-directing boys' self-perception towards masculine gender roles. Green's perspective appears to be that of a therapist helping his patients, "saying it would be easier to modify the behavior of a child rather than the attitude of society towards them." By 2023, however, it should be noted that this perspective is often regarded as advocacy for conversion therapy.

Dr. Green received numerous awards and honors. From 1982 to 1983, he was Fellow in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford and, in 1992, he was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. This allowed him to study medical law and Child Sexual Abuse in England, culminating in his 1992 book Sexual Science and the Law (quoted below) which included a chapter on "intergenerational sexuality".[2] In 2006, he was awarded the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal for Sexual Research.

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Green took great personal and professional risk in writing on sexual minorities in an either sympathetic/supportive, or non-sensationalist way. He took a supportive stance on homosexuality in published writing with the MAP ally criminologist Donald West (1997)[3], and appeared on television alongside gay rights activist Frank Kameny. His professional career focused on studying children's everyday lives, with papers such as "Effeminacy in Prepubertal Boys" (1961),[4], where he studied under and became personal friends with the MAP ally "Dean of American sexology" Dr. John Money.[5] Green wrote on stigmatized topics such as sadomasochism[6], and criticized the false notion of inherent harm in unlawful age-disparate sexual experience. During the Rind et al. controversy, the Rind team cited Green (1992)[7], writing:

"After qualitatively reviewing the CSA literature, Green (1992) stated the following:

Ultimately, scientists, if no one else, must be objective in their approach to this emotional issue. Judgmental terminology regarding intergenerational sexuality is more dramatic than that in the earlier psychiatric literature on homosexuality. There, patients were labeled perverts and psychopaths. Here, the experience is always abuse, the children are invariably victims, the adults are perpetrators, and those who later report childhood sexual experiences are, without apology to victims of the Nazi Holocaust, survivors. (p. 175).[8]

Green published a critical commentary on Harvard psychologist Susan Clancy's 2009 book The Trauma Myth, writing:

The headline, press release, book title message trumpeted here is: Most children who experience sexual contact with adults are not traumatized at the time of the experience. [...] [I]t is this aura of evil in the adult world that energizes the social construction of trauma that attaches to experience that was not traumatic. Contact morphs to abuse. This is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) without the T.


But, is Clancy, when broadcasting the trauma myth while invoking the moral mantra, contributing to the problem or the solution? Might her finding be an argument to dilute societal condemnation so that delayed trauma would be diminished? If non-pedophile adults became less exercised about adult–child sexual contact that was not aggressive/violent, as with adult–adult-sexuality that is not aggressive/violent, could this reduce the nascent trauma?

Not condemning adult–child sex is not endorsing it. But, it has been around a long time. And, it is not going to go away, no matter what code number is attached in DSM-5 or how long the prison sentences that attach. (2010, p. 1205).[9]

Green also co-authored an early (1971) paper comparing adolescent exposure to pornography among a sample of rapists, pedophiles, homosexuals, transsexuals, with a control group, finding that "Adolescent exposure to erotica was significantly less for all deviant and offender groups compared to the nondeviants. [...] The nondeviant, non-sex-offender groups sampled had had significantly greater exposure to erotic materials during adolescence than the deviants, convicted sex offenders, or heavy adult users of pornography."[10] He published widely, and had some association with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation as one of its Advisory Board members.[11]

Is Homosexuality a mental illness?

During the American Psychiatric Association (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 argued 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 eventual 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".[12]

Is pedophilia a mental illness?

Using the same criteria he had earlier used to successfully argue for the depathologization of homosexuality, in 2002 Green initiated a debate in a special issue of the Archives of Sexual Behavior regarding the extent to which preferential attraction to people before puberty (i.e. pedophilia) should be classified as a mental disorder / mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. Without impinging on the legal status of pedophilic age-disparate sexual contact, he argued that sexual arousal to pre-pubescent individuals is subjectively reported "in a substantial minority of "normal" people", that pedophilic sexual contact is normative in the animal kingdom via non-human primates, and reviewed sources indicating a much higher level of social acceptance of pedophilic attraction in the past.[13] He stated that such observations do not entail cultural or legal acceptance today, and his article inspired a large number of replies from many of the most famous figures in sexual science: Robert Spitzer (the father of the modern DSM), Fred Berlin, Michael Seto, Bruce Rind, Paul Okami, and Vern Bullough. Their responses were collected and published in a single article entitled Peer Commentaries on Green (2002) and Schmidt (2002), and we at Newgon strongly recommend Okami and Rind's contributions.[14] Green published a short reply to these commentaries in a "Rejoinder" article (2002).[15]

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 distinction between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders. This has since been accepted in the case of pedophilia, where pedophilia (the attraction) is distinguished from pedophilic disorder ("acting on" sexual attraction). With revisions to the DSM-5-TR, the "acting on" criteria for pedophilic disorder now specifically refers to interpersonal, physical sexual contact, not individual activities such as viewing pornography intended to (or actually depicting) minors.[16] Pedophilia is therefore no longer a mental illness according to the DSM.

Sexual preference for 14-year-olds as a mental disorder: you can't be serious!!

In 2010, Green criticized Ray Blanchard's proposal to introduce hebephilia as a mental disorder in the DSM-5 (as a subtype the proposed pedohebophilic disorder). The proposal led to widespread criticism and was not accepted.[17] In his criticism, Green pointed to the legal age of sexual consent in several countries of Europe, arguing that this proposal would declare 19-year-olds engaged sexually with 14-year-olds as having a mental disorder. His piece was titled "Sexual preference for 14-year-olds as a mental disorder: you can't be serious!!".[18]

A friend to MAPs?

Green was a personal friend to pioneering 1st wave MAP Movement figure Thomas O'Carroll. Green invited O'Carroll to be a guest speaker at the International Academy of Sex Research's annual conference in Paris, June 2000[19] and to join the academic forum SexNet[20], wrote a legal defence for him, introdued him to the sympathetic ethics scientist Agustin Malon at a meeting in a London pub[21], and included his 1980 book Paedophilia: The Radical Case[22] as reading material for his teaching at the University of Cambridge, UK. Upon Green's death, Peter Tatchell[23] and O'Carroll wrote obituaries for Richard,[24], with O'Carroll writing:

After we met in Paris we continued to see each other whenever I was in London, where he was a professor of psychiatry until his retirement [...] He successfully proposed me for membership of psychologist J. Michael Bailey’s cross-disciplinary Sexnet forum, wrote to the court on my behalf when I was in trouble with the law, and gave a glowing pre-publication endorsement of my book Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons.


All those years ago in Paris, Richard and his wife Melissa Hines, a neuroscientist, put me at ease immediately, joining me on a conference-organised canal-boat excursion, where they introduced me to their ten-year-old son, Adam. More than anything else they could have done, this friendly gesture (fully visible to other conference participants on the trip) convinced me that neither of them shared the popular prejudice that paedophiles must be shunned as pariahs.

See also


  1. Green, R. (2017). Hugh Hefner, the International Academy of Sex Research, and Its Founding President. Arch Sex Behav 46, 2211–2212 (open access)
  2. See chapter 8. Green, R. (1992). Sexual science and the law. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Google books link.
  3. West and Green (eds), Sociolegal Control of Homosexuality: A Multi-Nation Comparison (New York : Plenum Press, 1997).
  4. Money, John; Green, Richard (February 1961), "Effeminacy in Prepubertal Boys", Pediatrics, 27 (2): 286–291.
  5. Green, R. (2006). John Money, Ph.D. (July 8, 1921–July 7, 2006): A Personal Obituary. Arch Sex Behav 35, 629–632 (open access).
  6. Green, R. (Serious) Sadomasochism: A Protected Right of Privacy?. Arch Sex Behav 30, 543–550 (2001).
  7. Green, R. (1992). Sexual science and the law. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Google books link.
  8. Bruce Rind et al., ‘The Validity and Appropriateness of Methods, Analyses, and Conclusions in Rind et al. (1998): A Rebuttal of Victimological Critique From Ondersma et al. (2001) and Dallam et al. (2001)’, in Psychological Bulletin, 127:6 (2001), 734-758 <DOI: IO.1O37//0O33-29O9.127.6.734>, p. 751.
  9. Green, R. (2002). The Trauma Myth. Arch Sex Behav 39, 1205–1206.
  10. Goldstein, M., Kant, H., Judd, L. et al. (1971). Experience with pornography: Rapists, pedophiles, homosexuals, transsexuals, and controls. Arch Sex Behav 1, 1–15.
  11. Green advisory board profile
  12. The source given in wikipedia for this is Green's article on Pedophilia (2002).
  13. Green, R. (2002). Is pedophilia a mental disorder?. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31, 2002.
  14. Peer Commentaries on Green (2002) and Schmidt (2002). Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 31, No. 6, December 2002, pp. 479–503.
  15. Green, R. (2002). Rejoinder. Arch Sex Behav 31, 505–507.
  16. Seto, M.C. (2022). Clinical and Conceptual Problems With Pedophilic Disorder in the DSM-5-TR. Arch Sex Behav 51, 1833–1837.
  17. These letters and articles are summarized in Bruce Rind and Richard Yuill, 'Hebephilia as Mental Disorder? A Historical, Cross-Cultural, Sociological, Cross-Species, Non-Clinical Empirical, and Evolutionary Review', in Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 42 (2012), 797-829 <>
  18. Green, R. (2010). "Sexual preference for 14-year-olds as a mental disorder: you can't be serious!! (letter to the editor)". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 39 (3): 585–586. Full letter on Ipce.
  19. O'Carroll read the following paper: Sexual Privacy for Paedophiles and Children. A longer version is available at the same link.
  24. see the sub-heading: RICHARD, A LIONHEART FOR MINORITY RIGHTS, in Desmond is truly amazing – and hot! (