Left Embraces ‘Science Denialism’ to Bolster Transgender Claims, Says Science Writer

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 19: A participant holds a sign saying "Trans and Proud" during the Glasgow Pride march on August 19, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. The largest festival of LGBTI celebration in Scotland has been held every year in Glasgow since 1996. (Photo by Robert Perry/Getty Images)
Robert Perry/Getty Images

Progressives who insist that men can somehow transform themselves into “transgender” women are engaging in “science denialism,” says science journalist Jesse Singal.

“Their view that [is that] trans people should not only be treated as members of their sex and gender, but are them in some essential way that brooks no exceptions,” said Singal, who wrote a mildly-skeptical article about children caught in the transgender trend. “So they’re fighting back against this belief with science denialism,” he wrote.

Singal’s article, titled, “Why So Many Progressives Are Arguing That Biological Sex Doesn’t Exist,” says:

Part of what’s going on is that some advocates and sympathetic journalists are hoping to dissolve, by eliminating the concept of biological sex, certain rights conflicts they’d rather not see treated as such. I’m using the term dissolve intentionally here. To resolve a conflict is to acknowledge that it exists and to talk through the claims of each side and come to some sort of agreement enough people view as legitimate that everyone can mostly move on. But at the moment it is pretty much verboten within progressivism to acknowledge that any trans rights claims could cause rights conflicts. A great example of this came when the Guardian ran a pretty down-the-middle editorial about the these controversies in the U.K. in October that acknowledged instances in which trans women’s rights claims might conflict with cisgender women’s. In response, a group of journalists from the publication’s American offices wrote that they were dismayed that their colleagues across the pond had presented things in this way, but without really addressing the arguments themselves.

The strategy so many activists and journalists are taking, either assuming anyone with any questions about this is a bigot or, as this post shows, pretending biological sex isn’t a thing or is too complicated to be useful, is, again, a dead end. It’s science denialism geared at attacking a claim — “There may be some settings where biological sex should be seen as mattering more than gender identity” — that many progressives view as deeply threatening to their view that trans people should not only be treated as members of their sex and gender, but are them in some essential way that brooks no exceptions. So they’re fighting back against this belief with science denialism. That’s what this is.

Singal is a progressive who has had to fend off extreme criticism from a battery of transgender writers and activists for trying to cover the issue fairly. For example, in a famous article in the Atlantic, he wrote about people on all sides of the issue:

Cari Stella is the author of a blog called Guide on Raging Stars. Stella, now 24, socially transitioned at 15, started hormones at 17, got a double mastectomy at 20, and detransitioned at 22. “I’m a real-live 22-year-old woman with a scarred chest and a broken voice and a 5 o’clock shadow because I couldn’t face the idea of growing up to be a woman,” she said in a video posted in August 2016. “I was not a very emotionally stable teenager,” she told me when we spoke. Transitioning offered a “level of control over how I was being perceived.”

But progressive-minded parents can sometimes be a problem for their kids as well. Several of the clinicians I spoke with, including Nate Sharon, Laura Edwards-Leeper, and Scott Leibowitz, recounted new patients’ arriving at their clinics, their parents having already developed detailed plans for them to transition. “I’ve actually had patients with parents pressuring me to recommend their kids start hormones,” Sharon said.

“At the time I was not happy that she told me that I should go and deal with mental stuff first,” Delta said, “but I’m glad that she said that, because too many people are so gung ho and just like, ‘You’re trans, just go ahead,’ even if they aren’t—and then they end up making mistakes that they can’t redo.” Delta’s gender dysphoria subsequently dissipated, though it’s unclear why.

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