by Debbie Hayton
Tuesday, 19
January 2021
Reaction
10:45

Yelling ‘transphobia’ is not an argument

Activists don't want to debate a new book — they want to shut discussion down
by Debbie Hayton
Trans activists: shouting in the streets, and writing sinister tweets. Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty

If you haven’t already read Abigail Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage, you should. Shrier scrutinised the transgender craze that is ravaging the lives of teenage girls. She asked questions others avoid and talked to survivors who now regret the hasty and unwise choices they made as children; decisions that left some with mastectomy scars. The Economist listed it as a Book of the Year.

Predictably, Shrier’s book upset that militant band of transgender activists who demand affirmation despite the cost. Last weekend, their apoplexy hit the stratosphere following a review in The Irish Independent.

The self-styled Trans Writers’ Union projected their outrage across Twitter in a bizarre thread of Tweets.


They judged the review “harmful to transgender people,” and agitated that it might cause grave offence — stir up hatred even. Let’s be clear, this is a book review. The only hatred I could see emanated from Trans Writer’s Union who seemed unable to countenance any opinion different to their own.

It is tempting to dismiss the rest of their rant as petulant juvenile nonsense, but the sense of entitlement is breath-taking. This is a group that expects to be heard; it also seeks control of the narrative. After deciding that Emily Hourican — the reviewer — was not trans, they shrieked, “If the Irish Independent was at the most basic level, committed to best practice, they would have made any attempt to hire a trans writer.”

I suspect they meant someone who thinks like them. I am a trans writer — and I have already reviewed the book myself — but I came to similar conclusions as Hourican. It’s not being transgender that drives my thinking, it’s science and reason.

In an attempt to shut down debate they urged “allies and all trans people” to send a volley of letters to the editor, tactics that are also wearily familiar on this side of the Irish Sea. Why labour over counter arguments when you can scream “transphobia” instead? Last year, when the pressure group Stop Funding Hate piled onto The Spectator they tried to shame advertisers into pulling their advertising. Meanwhile, The Morning Star was forced to apologise  after publishing a political cartoon.

But these outrageous campaigns impact across society. While the Irish Independent may not yield to the bullying and harassment, how many onlookers will close their mouths before they even open them? That is the affront to democracy that should worry us all.

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Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

When I read reports about the latest trans lobby meltdown, I wonder how on earth these people manage to exist on planet earth at all. Walk into any bookshop, newsagents, switch on the TV, turn on the radio – you won’t go far before someone says or writes something that someone else may conceivably disagree with or find offensive. It must take an unbelievable amount of commitment and energy to be THAT offended, ALL the time.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

It does indeed. I’ve read a few testimonies of formerly woke people who have abandoned the cult, and the common factor uniting them is their utter bloody exhaustion.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago

Power to your elbow (well typing hand) Debbie. About the someone stood up to the trans terrorists perpetually demanding their ways whilst violently silencing debate. Wish you’d have been my science teacher back in the day.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

How in the world did these people manage before demanding daily affirmation from the rest of us. I don’t care what adults do but kids are another matter. That this even requires saying indicates how far off the rails we’ve gone. Who could have imagined that something as obvious as “only women have periods” would be treated as heresy. Or that people who take seriously those who are up in arms over obvious truths.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Aaah, naïveté, how sweet!

Surely you didn’t think that the words “Only women have periods” means that only women have periods; did you?

Tch, tch, tch, your lack of enlightenment is shameful on the rest of us.
No, no; you see, the phrase ‘Only women have periods’ actually means that only people who have periods can BE women.

It is a phrase that has obviously been conjured out of HATRED by the rampant Cis-gendered hetro-normative tyranny that has been submitting LGBTQZ+-~ community to OUTRAGEOUS SUBJUGATION since the dawn of time.
YOU MUST BE OUTRAGED!!!
YOU MUST BE OUTRAGED!!!!
or YOU MUST BE SILENCED!!!!!!

. . . . . . . *swoons with faux passion*. . . . . I am so distraught by your lack of humanity *sob*

Linda Brown
Linda Brown
1 year ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Sarcasm?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  Linda Brown

I think so, but it can be very hard to tell, can’t it.

Unknown Anonymous
Unknown Anonymous
1 year ago

Thank you, Debbie Hayton, for being brave enough to write this article.

vince porter
vince porter
1 year ago

Until the social justice warriors came along, I thought religion was a virus that education would dispense with. Instead, it is clear that the human mind will invent new dogmas to replace old ones, and, replicate witch hunting with new forms of hysteria. Hopefully, it can be managed, but, history suggests we have much to fear before it runs out of energy and innocents.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  vince porter

For example:
‘Marxism is the opium of the socialists.’

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I think socialism’s their opium. Marxism’s more like their heroin.

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
1 year ago
Reply to  vince porter

This! 100 Times!

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
1 year ago

I have long considered myself both a social and economic liberal and a believer in democracy.
This comes from the belief that
a) The personal sphere is no business of the state unless harm (actual, not perceived) is being done to someone, whether that is actions or opinions.
b) The economic sphere usually runs more smoothly (and provides more taxes) when largely left alone.
I often refer to myself when pushed as a libertarian as the modern Liberal Democrats appear to be neither. This often results in acquaintances of a socialist bent referring to me as an extreme right winger and refusing to debate anything for many of the reasons mentioned above.
Sadly, most of the media (certainly online and TV) appears to agree with this view. The authoritarian view now appears to go unchallenged here.
Anyone challenging the bien pensant BBC/Guardian view of the world is either ignored or ridiculed.

L Paw
L Paw
1 year ago
Reply to  John Wilkes

Well said John, and I would echo much of what you wrote.
The other day I was thinking back to my teens in the 1980’s and some of the debates & disagreements on political issues I had with friends/acquaintances. I am probably pretty ‘right wing’, believe in free markets, responsibilities of the individual, small gov’t, but I wasn’t shut down/ ignored/ridiculed as I would be now.
It is frightening that debate is now being denied by undoubted extremists.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  L Paw

How would you be shut down for expressing views that are the mainstay view of most of the UK media and certainly the Conservative Party?

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
1 year ago

Someone choosing to identify as a tree has no right to demand that others gather round them every autumn lest fruit fall to the floor.

Gender dysphoria is a disruptive malady, and people so affected should be afforded every respect and reasonable medical care. People with gender dysphoria, however, should not expect everyone else to share their reality-distortion field. Yes, politeness (not the law) should encourage us to use preferred pronouns, which some people will inevitably ‘get wrong.’ No, most of us will not accept that someone born a man truly becomes a woman merely by act of declaration.

I do not know what the percentages are, but my estimate would be that the vast majority of people would not wish the state to compel parents to allow children to make irreversible life-decisions. If you are too young to drink, too young to drive, too young to vote, you are too young to understand the implications of taking puberty blockers.

And, campaigners like the trans writers’ union should be shunned by all sane people. Since cancellation is apparently fashionable, perhaps they could be cancelled for a year or so as they are clearly a threat to free speech (yes, I do see the irony there – it is deliberate…).

Peter KE
Peter KE
1 year ago

Keep pursuing the truth and the science. Have the determination to fight the transloby and the woke.

Pierre Pendre
Pierre Pendre
1 year ago

As Sayers says next door, we need scepticism more than other. It’s increasingly common to take grievance mongers at face value because to do otherwise would be offensive or a denial of rights. Trans activists and BLM use this freedom to drive a battering ram through our society. Millions of us go along with things we disagree with because we fear being Alinsky’ed by some swivel-eyed campaigner whose real target is political power and the suppression of free speech.

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
1 year ago

Debbie Hatton ends her article with the words “that is the affront to democracy that should worry us all”.
It should worry us enough to think seriously about what action is required to stop affront becoming subversion. It amazes me that such a small minority of people as the LGBT and BLM movements are allowed to threaten some of the basics of our democratic society and continually get away with it. It is frightening how many institutions,organisations and businesses have become so servile to them. It is particularly problematic how the Universities, where learning should take place in the free flow of ideas, are now seen to be in their thrall.
In fact it’s clear to me that the Universities are the source of the problem. Many of the humanities and social science faculties wreak with wokedom, and there are issues of equality and diversity which should addressed. Some basic questions along these lines should be asked.
1. What is the number of professors and lecturers who are not left wing, cultural Marxists?
2.How wide is the spectrum of viewpoints being taught?
My hunch is that equality and diversity will be seen to be lacking – to put it mildly.
We can grumble in these columns. We can scornfully ignore the antics of the wokes. We can scream back at them through the media. It is clear that they are beyond rational argument. So if we are to check this attack on free speech and thought the government needs to take some action beginning with our Universities.

Renee Johansson
Renee Johansson
1 year ago

I think it’s also important to begin looking deeper into the studies which govern the dogma of the social sciences and debunking those which rely on garbage in/ garbage out. I have often been quite shocked when reading scientific studies which contribute to policy making and realising the main determinant is often subjective opinions such as how one feels.

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
1 year ago

I’ve been shouted down and told to die in a fire for over half a decade now by trans/queer activists. And from what we are seeing our governments do, rushing to placate this frothing at the mouth minority, it does work.
The number of professional people that have been terrified into silence by the mere suggestion that they are transphobic is massive, based on how many secretly message those of us who openly dare speak up.

One thing is clear for me: if you are telling someone you hope they die in a fire because they are voicing a deep concern over medical experimentation on children and a desire to prevent very mentally ill and dangerous men from playing the “I identify as a woman” card to avoid being sent to man prison, you can bet we are not the ones who have shortcomings on our values or ethics.

Gerry Fruin
Gerry Fruin
1 year ago

Hold for a second everybody. We seem to fall into the it’s the left and or the right arguments over issues that are often raised by simple nutters and fruit cakes. These people don’t deserve a title. I suspect 99% of them couldn’t explain what Left and Right meant!
What it does though is give them a reason, albeit warped for mob violence, looting and screaming demands that institutions bizarrely bend their knees to.
The main problem for the vast majority of people of all persuasions, political, religious, etc, etc, etc. Or to keep it simple anybody and everybody who goes about their daily lives doing anything they want within the law, and thugs and mindless cretins who object to that can just b*gger off.
Conclusion: The MSM is the main platform and agitator for this current anti-social phenomena. Silence is their worst enemy. No one to scream at no one taking any notice – they’ll be gone. Forget Left and Right it’s a battle for what we want.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
1 year ago

“…Yelling ‘transphobia’ is not an argument…”

Yes it is, haven’t you been watching!

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
1 year ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

It may not be an argument but it’s a very effective tactic.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

Do you not think the phrase ‘transgender craze that is ravaging the lives of teenage girls’ is just a little transphobic?

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Mark, I sincerely hope that was dry humor.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Well, let’s see: when biological males are competing athletically with biological females, is it phobic to notice that this goes badly for the girls? When a girl goes through the drugs and other things, and later decides that was a bad idea, is that phobic?

It is a bit of a ‘craze.’ Trans people are not new, but this full-on assault that demands active affirmation of their choices sure is. You’re welcome to identity however you like, but you are not welcome to insist that I go along with it.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I don’t think it is transphobic, it appears that the data in the U.K. suggests there is an element of localised teenage group think pushing up the numbers … aided by some noisy advocating social media groups.

The age at which children are now encouraged along largely irreversible paths that they might later regret is obscene.

Other laissez faire outcomes are that the teenager changes their self-perception as they leave “teen angst” years, or becomes a perfectly happy gay person.

If that hasn’t happened by the age of 18/21 then it becomes an adult – and hopefully better informed – choice.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

OK. Very fair. But where do you draw the line? My granddaughter is expecting a baby soon and she has asked for only gender-neutral presents. Is that a fashion or is it serious. Suppose it is a fashion – how does it correct itself going forward?

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

‘…she has asked for only gender-neutral presents…’ in my experience ‘gender-neutral’ is usually a euphemism for ‘feminine’.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

That’s a tricky one. Respect for the parents wishes is always a good course of action.

So, in your shoes I would probably buy the child a Rubik’s Cube (all humans are curious), a play-kitchen (both sexes/genders cook, nowadays), and a toy assault rifle (since both sexes/genders can join the Services, nowadays).
That would be a truly ‘gender neutral’ gift box, and more importantly, would give you a steer as to where the parents are coming from.

It’s fun to watch the mental gymnastics play-out across their faces, too. :-))

All the best.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

How about a pair of boxing gloves? Plenty of female boxers, including a Team GB Olympic gold medalist.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Sounds like it might be a fashionable thing to do – but also seems harmless enough, so nothing obvious to correct.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

No. Not remotely.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Do you not think that slicing the breasts off 13 or 14 year old girls is just a little humanphobic? And if and when a trans-man (or is it woman?) beats an actual woman to death in MMA – as Joe Rogan says has almost happened – will you consider it ‘transphobic’ to regret the occurrence?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Nobody here or anywhere else that I’m aware of has proposed surgical mastectomies for 13 or 14 year old girls.
Of course violence carried out by a trans person would be as wrong as violence carried out by anyone else.
I’m in favour of there being safe places for women and can understand why some would want those to be sex based rather than gender based.

Guglielmo Marinaro
Guglielmo Marinaro
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I don’t know about anyone on here, but double mastectomies have been performed on 13 and 14 year old girls in the name of “gender transition”:

https://archive.org/details

Guglielmo Marinaro
Guglielmo Marinaro
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

In a word, no.

charmianneary
charmianneary
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

No, not when it happens in peer clusters. Clearly like cutting, anorexia, etc. girls are subject to peer influence. You never heard of this 5 years ago, Girls are asking to be boys !,000+ percent more than previously. How is that not a craze? How do adolescent mastectomies not ravage girls?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  charmianneary

Even the article does not talk about adolescent mastectomies. It talks about adults who regret decisions that led them to transitioning who later had mastectomies. I’m sure it was deliberately written to confuse.
The actual book being reviewed was written without the author interviewing any transgender adolescents – she interviewed the parents of adolescents who disagreed with their children’s choices.
For an alternative review of the book try 6 December issue of Psychology Today (US version) and piece by Jack Turban, Fellow in Adolescent and Child Psychology at Stanford.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

No.

Lucy Browne
Lucy Browne
1 year ago

Brava!, Debbie, and thank you for such a balanced take on things.

ericaconrick
ericaconrick
1 year ago

Oh no, another “I’m not a bigot, I’m a Trans person (who’s a bigot)” article from Debbie Hayton (as in “hate-on” as in “hates themselves” and hates Trans people). For anyone who’s new to Debbie’s Uncle Tom schtick–she is a cross-dresser who postures as a spokesperson for Trans people, while she promotes TERF ideology and makes a very sad spectacle of herself. You want an argument dear? Here’s one. Premise: Gender affirming healthcare saves lives and makes life worth living for Transgender and Transsexual people. Conclusion: therefore the Great Unwashed on Unherd should stop trying to get in the way of it. Yes, the occasional lost young person wanders into a gender transition, yes, there should be better vetting and less of a hurry with anyone under 18. But no, returning to the dark ages before the dawn of modern psychology when Transgender people like myself were denied healthcare and human dignity is not a bright idea.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
1 year ago
Reply to  ericaconrick

Sorry, disagreeing with you are not sharing your view of reality does not constitute bigotry or hatred.

The conclusion you seek to draw does not follow from your premise; moreover, there is published evidence that sex change surgery does not affect suicidality – which is sadly an over-represented propensity in people suffering gender dysphoria.

There should be no suggestion of denying you healthcare, or dignity. But note that your dignity does not trump mine, and my dignity requires that I not be compelled by law to make statements that I know to be false.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

That’s a good way to put it. That someone else’s dignity does not trump your own and your dignity requires that you not be compelled by law to make statements you know to be false.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

I’m glad Debbie Hayton shared the link to the tweets she is complaining about which can take you to both the original Irish Independent Review and another review written by an American Medic with a very different perspective.

That allows one to compare sources and make up one’s own mind. Both the author’s review of the book and the Irish Independent review are effectively favourable summaries of the book rather than reviews.

Hayton writes of the ‘transgender craze ravaging lives’ and describes the people she disagrees with as yelling, shrieking, petulant, juvenile, nonsensical, bullying, harassing, hating and entitled. That’s an awful lot of insults to squeeze into such a short article and is a misleading misrepresentation of the language used by the Trans Writers Union.

I don’t think you have to be a trans person to write a review of a book, I agree with Hayton on that. But this article is a sloppy piece of polemic.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Is any of those “insults” wrong? Look at the hysteria that followed a book review. A book review. Look at the hysteria that follows JK Rowling when she utters a malicious truth.

Maybe, just maybe, screwing with adolescents is not sound medicine unless there is some fatal condition in play. Gender identity is not such a condition. What adults do is their business but when it’s 8 or 12 year olds, that’s another matter. They cannot legally get a tattoo but it’s okay to put them on life-altering regimens?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Is any of those “insults” wrong? Look at the hysteria that followed a book review. A book review. Look at the hysteria that follows JK Rowling when she utters a malicious truth.

Maybe, just maybe, life-altering regimens on adolescents is not sound medicine unless there is some fatal condition in play. Gender identity is not such a condition. What adults do is their business but when it’s 8 or 12 year olds, that’s another matter.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Did you read the alleged hysteria?
8 or 12 year olds aren’t adolescents.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

It happens with 8 year olds, too, at least here. And 12 is within the realm of adolescents. Bog down in semantics all you like, it’s still children. They cannot legally get a tattoo, a drink, or cigarette, but it’s okay to engage in life-altering medical treatment?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Slightly dodging the point I think …

Vóreios Paratiritís
Vóreios Paratiritís
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Children cannot consent.
Children cannot consent.
Children cannot consent.

So why are adults making irreversible life altering decisions for them? Because they are so damn sure of the medical science? So damn sure of the psychology? So damn sure of the sociology?

Like we were sure about lobotomies in the 50s?
Like we were sure about Thalidomide?
Like we were sure about Satanic Panic?
Like we were sure about “the gays”
Like we were sure about hysterical women.
Like we were sure about epileptics.
On and On and On.

What is going on is a fanciful experiment bordering on criminal medical malpractice funded by billionaire trans people who think they know the meaning of life. (see Jennifer Natalya Pritzker)

It is to weep.