This is infuriating
You should consider consulting with a lawyer about your chances of winning a defamation suit against GLAAD, Jesse. I'd be happy to contribute the money I offered to Brianna Wu's charity of choice in exchange for the imaginary receipts to a legal fund for you, and I imagine many others who offered money for that purpose would, too. I know you're still able to make a good living from your Substack and Patreon contributors, but think of what kind of message this smear is sending to less-established journalists who might otherwise want to write about these issues. And consider that if GLAAD and similar organizations continue smearing people who write thoughtfully about pediatric transition with impunity, they might start going after people in a less secure position. Also, thanks for mentioning that many desisters turn out to be LGB. It's ironic that GLAAD portrays people who convey concern about kids who would've otherwise been content as LGB people in their birth sex becoming lifelong medical patients as harming LGBTQ people.
I’m a gay man in the heart of downtown Austin. I hear you and everybody in the community. Also I’m a scientist.
This is a critical argument that requires all voices. I’m making argument against the Calvinball rhetoric, not against this Substack!
That was my long preamble to my point... I grew up in the closet because I was afraid to come out and be a member of the LGBT community. Now Im afraid to be an outcast member of the community.
Jesse, thank you for pushing back against this. It must be incredibly tiring, but so few people are in a position where they can do it, both in terms of their employment and psychological fortitude.
I know you don't want to sue anyone, and if you do, crazy people will ABSOLUTELY turn it into your being a bigot who's somehow insincere about free speech and not ruining people's careers. But it wouldn't be hypocritical or bigoted: defaming someone is serious, and it SHOULD hinder a journalist's career! And it would be such a perfect case; the facts are on your side, and your personality makes it difficult for anyone who isn't already brainwashed to construe you as anything other than a fair, compassionate person who is clearly progressive and in favor of robust civil rights and health care for trans people. You could donate any money to a gender clinic that does thorough work, or something.
I genuinely think it would help turn back to the tide if you sued. So many people, LGBT and otherwise, have been walking on eggshells in this culture of intimidation and defamation that psycho "trans rights activists" have enforced. Even sane, compassionate people who have been publicly trans forever get trashed by these insecure "activists." I genuinely think it's to your advantage that you're a cis guy, because when you're a queer person, it's REALLY HARD to risk having a target put on you by your own community. If you were to sue, even before ever WINNING anything, it would make a lot of LGBT people feel considerably safer to chime in with support and to openly dissent from the radical trans rights agenda, because there would be a VERY sympathetic point to rally around that's inclusive of non-radical, totally rational trans rights.
I'm as progressive as they come and I was so glad that Covington Catholic kid sued and won. I feel so desperately that the left needs to clean house for the good of society, but there's no disincentive for emotionally disturbed radicalism right now, and disordered people rarely snap out of it without hitting some kind of rock bottom. I hate even putting pressure on you because the whole thing would be such a stressful bitch of a task, but... if not you, then who? You're very well-positioned for it, is all I can say. Even the things they'll claim work against you work for you.
You run circles around these clowns.
Re "It honestly seems as though they are taking their cues on this issue directly from Twitter and Tumblr..."
This, to me, is the root of not just Jesse's particular hell with the "trans-activist community" and its amen chorus among progressive journalism, but a much larger problem in society: People are not skeptical, they don't understand how to critically examine information, and, thanks to social media silo-ization, don't really care to. It's all about the team, baby, whether we're talking Team Left or Team Right.
I feel for Jesse on this. I don't know that I would be able to maintain any equanimity at all if I were being assaulted by liars for years.
Utterly maddening. I never even thought about this until years ago, when Ayaan Hirsi Ali ended up on the SPLC "Anti-Muslim Extremist" list, which was obviously completely absurd. Ever since I've been especially worried about "mission oriented" organizations and the damage they can do, everyone from SPLC to GLAAD to dog rescues.
So everything Jesse said was correct. It doesn't matter. They've come for Jesse Singal and that will never end. It's pretty much the same as for everyone else "they've" come for. I can't identify "they," as it could be GLAAD, the SPLC, the staff of the NYT, one of any number of professional organizations, staff or faculty at a university, or anonymous posters at Twitter. The scurrilous claims are out there. Even if GLAAD removes their content, it exists elsewhere and others will repost it.
I'm convinced the cure is not to defend or explain. What good does that do? The only real cure is to sue the bastards. Do it often. Do it aggressively. It'll require help, and you'll probably have to associate yourself with some conservatives for support and money, as the Left has little fortitude to actually strike back (oh, you're /great/ at writing open letters).
If you're in university, a more neutral supporter is FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), which is doing the work the ACLU /used/ to do before in all but abandoned free-speech as a concern.
And you can win. Maajid Nawaz won a suit against the SPLC, one that actually included a public apology. The Convington kid won (though the settlement was not revealed and didn't include a public apology). Hell, after 10 years the National Review has apparently "won" against Michael Mann (whether he was libeled or not, the suit was basically brought to ruin the NR, one of the more respectable conservative sites).
The cancellers are strong and face few consequences. Once they do -- and realize they do -- there will be some change in the intellectual environment. Until then, Jesse is just as at-risk as the next victim.
All of the major LGBT organizations are horrible now, but this is unbelievable. Just wrote to GLAAD asking them to take your name off the list -- obviously, they won't care, but somebody might have to read it. As someone who's been out for 20 years, seeing what's happened to LGBT activism is totally depressing.
Jesse: I should be able to keep this short
Jesse: *writes 1883 words (not counting blockquotes)*
I just want to say that I am so grateful to you for writing the piece in The Atlantic even though you knew that it would make you a target after the piece about Zucker. There are real conversations that need to be had about why there has been a huge spike in post puberty people with ovaries identifying as trans male within the left and within the LGBT community that is completely distinct from the oversimplified rhetoric coming out of the GOP and the Christian right. I very much admire you for taking so many risks to try and shed light on that conversation and for recognizing that detransitioners are overwhelmingly part of the LGBT community and deserve to have their concerns and insights heard without being seen to jump to any conclusions. I am a parent who was amenable to my child socially transitioning as a minor and did everything I could to support him in that transition, but who was unwilling to consent to medical transition on his behalf because I just thought it was too consequential a decision for me to make on his behalf and he did not appear sufficiently mature to make it on his own. He recently became a legal adult and has started on testosterone, and has learned that dealing with our medical system is a big pain -- I help him problem solve and provide advice, but I know that when you opt for a therapy that will make you a lifelong endocrinology patient, you are taking on some hassle that would really be invisible to most teens when their parents are still overseeing all their medical care. But like Jesse, I absolutely oppose legislation that would bar medical transition for minors, and I know that parents who are trying to parent their children from love and not fear are struggling with what the right decision should be and each situation is likely to be different. But parents and their children deserve to know about detransitioners and their experience to inform their decisions. And trying to keep us from knowing just makes us more suspicious of what the media is saying. So thank you -- I wish I could fix the way in which your work has been distorted, but I am grateful that I can support you by subscribing to your newsletter and your podcast with Katie.
I enjoy your juxtaposition of long-outdated terms like "scuttlebutt" -- I mean, I'm older than you and I can assure you that one was on the endangered slang registry in the early 1980s -- and stories about the tweens who have apparently taken the reins, en masse, of every progressive organization with a solid reputation to uphold.
I look at it this way: The hunger of these flatulent fucks to ruin people has the silver lining of their doing it more or less immediately and in concert, making it easier to counter as needed as well as rendering each story part of an obvious hit job (at least when I'm Googling something, when I see a single narrative flying around about an otherwise respected voice, while it's plainly a hit-job of _some_ sort, my index of suspicion for it being a *slimy* hit job goes through the roof.
I hope you become the first Substack billionaire and use some of the cash to open a nationwide chain of transgender disco clubs. To that end, I told two friends about this site today alone.
This is so analogous to the Maajid Nawaz vs SPLC case. They called him an anti-muslim bigot and didn't retract it until he sued them and won.
Like the SPLC, GLAAD are a resource that journalists and politicians turn to to quickly see who is reputable and who is beyond the pale, so their blasé labelling of people without evidence or even a logical coherence to what is offensive has to be fought. You can bet this will be the thing lazily referenced by anyone dumping on you, and carries a lot more gravitas than the stupid Jezebel article.
I can understand not wanting to sue and financially destroy some blowhards on twitter, but when this type or organization is wrongfully using institutional muscle against you you have to fight back or they will keep doing it to more and more people.
Imagine the power of a written apology and declaration that you are not a bigot from this organization, and the message it sends to all the other cretans who will casually accuse you of harassment for a quote retweet or a question that baseless accusations have consequences.
I signed up just to write this message because this infuriates me. Love the pod and your writing.
I think there's a word missing from this sentence:
"In 21st century journalism, if you misrepresent someone and ask for a correction, that’s ‘harassment.’"
"and THEY ask for a correction" maybe?
It’s important to get the facts about yourself on record, and to call out these abuses and “errors” when they occur... but: are you also thinking at all about broader strategic goals?
The “post-truth” model of discourse is dominant now, so it doesn’t really matter whether any of what GLAAD, the Daily Dot, or your blue-check Twitter haters say about you is correct. GLAAD may modify a few phrases, but they won’t retract their claims in a way that restores your reputation. The conventional wisdom about you among respectable liberals will always be that you are a “transphobe,” a “stalker,” and a sleazy, lazy journalist. That impression cannot be fixed, ever. (Such is the power of slander and libel, especially when it’s directed against isolated figures who ask questions about official narratives.)
You can see for yourself that people are happy to continue libeling you long after you’ve shared incontrovertible proof of falsity and malice. Why is that? Because they know you won’t sue them, and that they stand a better chance of being socially and professionally rewarded for telling the lies than for telling the truth.
Brazenly lying on bigger and bigger platforms—the GLAAD list makes your status as a dangerous purveyor of hate almost official—is also a power play, and one that’s honestly pretty impressive. Nearly all of our political leaders and mass-media thought leaders have figured this out: shamelessly and stubbornly lying following repeated public corrections is an “alpha” move, and the impotent anger of the people who are libeled reduces their stature.
There are so many examples of this—many of which obviously involve Bush, Trump, and more recently Biden’s handlers in the Democratic party and in the media.
One example that comes to mind: when Joy Reid was revealed to have made, in the fairly recent past and as an adult, vile homophobic comments on her blog, she claimed that her various accounts had been hacked by people who had sensed that she would eventually be famous and wanted to bring her down by putting words into her mouth right in front of her, and that she had inexplicably left the hackers’ text on her blog for several years. If she had acknowledged that she’d made those comments and apologized, there’s a non-negligible chance that she would have lost her job (and in this case, she probably should have lost it—she said some awful things). But her willingness to tell a ludicrous lie, and then receive the protection of other media elites, ironically left her in better shape than she would have been in if she had never made the comments. We all see now that she is bulletproof, and that people who try to hold her to reasonable standards will be humiliated.
Another, more serious example is the successful years-long gaslighting of the Democratic electorate through the Russiagate scam. And of course, the entire Permawar was enabled by a concerted post-truth flex by Cheney, Rove, their Democratic cheerleaders, and a handful of well-placed reporters. Collectively, they unleashed hell on Earth—including the revival of torture—and they emerged from this wreckage strengthened rather than destroyed. One of the worst offenders is currently the US President.
GLAAD & Co. are playing a power game against you, and they’re winning. Nobody apart from Glenn Greenwald, a few other honorable holdovers from a previous era, and your readers and listeners (myself included), cares about “the record” or your attempts to set it straight.
It’s great (sincerely!) that you and Katie are earning a good living post-cancellation. But others in your situation are not nearly as intelligent, resourceful, and popular as you and Katie are. (Jack Smith IV, who comes to mind because I met him a few times, has been completely memory-holed, and has no professional future; his crime, if anyone remembers, is that he was allegedly a shouty boyfriend.) The people who are methodically destroying your reputation—the ADL, ACLU, and SPLC will presumably be the next groups to denounce you—are sharpening a tool that they will use to chill mildly dissenting speech and thought for decades to come.
The tl;dr version of my long, annoying comment is: do you have a plan B in mind? I don’t, and we need one.
Is “setting the record straight” working—for you, or indeed for any of us right now?
PS: As they say on social media (and—as they also say—“this, but ironically”): I’m sorry this is happening to you! You and Katie are both good reporters and seem like excellent human beings.
Someone on Twitter mentioned that Dr. Diane Ehrensaft was involved in the Repressed Memories Satanic Panic stuff from the 80s. I don't want to go re-listen to that episode to see if her name comes up at all. https://twitter.com/WakaFlaccusFlam/status/1374027214681997325
You wouldn't happen to know of a connection here, would you?
I would file suit for libel and an order forcing them to take it down.