I fear that when I see these people immediately run to their battle stations and tweet authoritatively that there is nothing to see here and no reason to have any concern over a massive increase in the number of natal females seeking medical transition I sometimes am tempted by evil to wish that it happens in their family so they might feel a little less certain. It is easy to paint parents like me as bigoted or just clueless when you don't know us and haven't walked in our shoes, but when your depressed and anxious and eating disordered self-harming child bathes in Tumblr posts about being trans and then finds the answer to why they hate their body and you want to take it slow because there are a lot of variables at play and you are arrogant enough to think you know some things about your own child the skepticism comes a bit more naturally. And btw there is no disgust with regard to your own beloved child -- but there is sadness about a bunch of really heavy duty medical interventions (daily injections for life and a double mastectomy are not a walk in the park nor is reducing your life expectancy and losing fertility before you have even really matured enough to know why you have fertility) and that sadness comes because we love our children and we think they are worthy of more respect and investigation than just taking all of their claims at face value and then putting them under the knife in response. But I am not a hateful person and so in the end I retract my wish that David Roberts see his child in this situation because it makes life so much harder for these kids and we have no idea if it will benefit them in the long run or not. I am also really freaked out that no one on the left ever seems to question whether being trans means that you need medical intervention. If self-id is what matters why do we insist on trying to remake the body in seemingly all cases?

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It's starting to become obvious that the Trans issue has moved out of the realm of the political, is no longer about kids, sex, gender, society etc (or at least not only about these things) and has become a theological battle, or really a religious test that's used like a shibboleth to identify which god you worship.

This is why an issue that affects such a small part of our population has become a major battleground and dividing line: Trans has such enormous symbolic weight.

For Team Blue/Good, Trans is about liberation from oppressive structures, is about relieving the pain of the suffering marginalized, is about a future where everyone gets to Live their Truth™ and Be Seen as their True Authentic Self™, is about once again living out a successful civil rights struggle, where the Good people liberate an oppressed minority from the clutches of the Bad people, which means as much spiritually and emotionally to modern liberals as Exodus does to Jews (as a sacred narrative).

For Team Red/Bad, Trans is an assault on the family, on traditional sex roles and parenting and family structures, is another plot to undermine the country, is another dagger aimed at the heart of Christianity by the godless Left.

People can usually reach some sort of agreement when it comes to sharing assets, resources, and other tangible things, but when it comes to symbols, and especially sacred symbols, this is where both sides decide no compromise is possible and the hatred starts to get ugly and dangerous.

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David Roberts is the best writer and interviewer on climate and energy issues working today. His stuff on his "Volts" site is truly superb! (It's at https://www.volts.wtf/). And it's not just the expected hand-wringing and doomsaying; he discusses amazing new directions in how we can transform the ways we produce and use energy, and is the most hopeful thing on how we can address climate change that I've seen. Excellent stuff which I highly recommend.

And yet . . . whenever he leaves that area and comments on other issues, I have the same (if somewhat less hyperbolic!) reaction as Jesse here. He's a hard as rock progressive and/or leftist, and he speaks with a moral certainty that is absent from his climate and energy writing and mostly unearned. That other stuff drives me crazy and I go out of my way to avoid it.

He's an interesting case, where one side of him is truly outstanding and the other side is, well, not.

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Jun 21, 2022·edited Jun 21, 2022

Very snide; I approve. You had me going at first. I didn't know who David Roberts was, and figured (despite your subheading) that he must have pointed out some glaring error in Bazelon's piece (which I have not read) that you'd somehow missed. Glad to see that wasn't the case.

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I'm gonna say, and this is rare from me to you, not so much on the sarcasm.

Important topic but while the sarcastic tone is deserved I don't think it serves your piece. Or rather, boil it down into a few paragraphs. The "good people" thing is a point worth making, but not writing the whole piece directed towards that punchline.

Now everyone will tell me I'm wrong and they're probably right. You are actually a better writer than me, but that was my reaction. Cheers!

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First, kudos for not only envisioning the David Robertses of the world as human-sized phalluses performing executive Twitter functions, but also for going as far as imagining the extensive vasculature and having the bravery to add this to a public description. I do this and have always figured there's something a little wrong with me. Either that's not true or you share the same malady, and I'm fine with either.

I thought of you right away when reading Bazelon's piece, which I learned of through Matt Taiibbi's Substack. Taibbi is admittedly averse to delving into trans issues because it's such an outlier of a third rail even within the already off-limits pool of Wokish crusades. That may be why he didn't comment on what to me is the biggest boo-boo in Bazelon's story--the claim that only "very small group of people" detransition, which is dropped in obliquely and without support.

The piece represented a major walk-back of the lib-media consensus, but still kept one foot firmly planted in bullshit. Here's part of a comment I left:


One of the things that's earned Singal so much opprobrium from trans Twitter--which, if a physical place, would be a long-unemptied porta-john the size of a Costco -- is his pointing out that the majority of people who start identifying as trans as teenagers do in fact detransition, something like 70 to 80 percent across aggregated datasets (and who knows how reliable most of that is, but Singal is meticulous and does his best with what he's given).

It's obviously not in the interest of the lunatic arm of the transgender community, mostly people with established psychological problems prior to exploring gender fluidity, to allow the public to know this. That they are cancelliciously fervent about suppressing this number underscores their grasp of the truth of the 'social contagion' idea.

If this is a solely natural phenomenon, why are so many trans/nonbinary people intent on actively growing their own numbers, like a club? Shouldn't they see this as tantamount to 'conversion therapy' for gay people, a clear failure? It's uncool when what is left of the thinking citizenry just allows mentally troubled people with purple bangs and a yen for self-mutilation to have veto power over the entire lives of, say, tenured professors or company VPs.

But not only are 'liberals' not stopping the craziness, they're actively cheering it on. Everyone knows why billionaires pulling the levers love it when the electorate is distracted by culture wars, but a lot of cogent people have been held captive for too long by this anti-reality circus.

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By itself this article was worth my annual subscription fee.

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Holy shit, I'd like to report a murder. Brilliant takedown of Roberts and people who share his mindset.

His last comments are pretty illustrative of what's so appealing about staking out a "progressive" opinion on these issues--he seems like a deeply insecure person who's almost pathologically terrified that he's secretly a bad person (I would not be surprised if he suffers from recurring dreams where he's in an SS uniform, directing traffic at a concentration camp). Adopting the "progressive" position allows him to believe he's one of the good ones, and even do all manner of evil in the name of the Aryan race, whoops I meant trans people

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Didn't you get the memo that NUANCE=VIOLENCE?

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Jun 22, 2022Liked by Jesse Singal

Sorry, Jesse. I like sarcasm, irony, snark, dry humor, etc., but this was just way too belabored -- it went on way longer in snark mode than necessary to make the point. It apparently works for some people who are already fans, but I could never imagine sharing this post with someone who wasn't already familiar with your ordinary writing and personality.

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Okay, Jesse got that out of his system. Now, can we talk about the fact that the NYT even published Bazelon's article AND left the comments on? Moreover, the comments were about 90% skeptical about gender ideology and alarmed by the trend of affirmative care for youth. The latent sexism and homophobia of gender dysphoria, and examples of women being raped in prison by men who identify as women were also topics permitted in the comments section. This felt like a big development to me because it showed, for millions of subscribers to see, that the overwhelming majority of lefty NYT readers are fed up with being told they are supposed to uncritically assess the alarming trend of biological sex denialism.

On the other hand, these one off articles like Bazelon's are also offset by the dozens of NYT articles each week celebrating gender ideology and biological sex denialism, so there's that.

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Jun 22, 2022Liked by Jesse Singal

I didn't like this piece at all. Reading others' responses I kept thinking "Are they damning with faint praise?" as in "It's great because it's not common, coming from Jesse?" Or do they really like it (or how MANY really like it -- who can tell in a world governed by the spiral of silence)?

At least I got the joke, as apparently did all the other commenters, none of us victimized by Poe's law. But snark is snark, and it doesn't describe Jesse Singal.

For me, there is a main takeaway -- the issue of what social media does to people. Apparently even David Roberts (about whom I otherwise know almost nothing) recognized it and -- also apparently -- unsuccessfully fought it. According to some of the comments, he's a very good commenter on climate change but on other topics, notably (here) trans issues, he's a full-scale Twitter blow-hard.

How does that happen? Maybe it doesn't take social media. I've known people who seemed awfully authoritative on some topics but as far as I could tell were absolutely mentally unstable on others. I've seen some of that in myself (a long story that no one here wants to hear and that I won't get into, except to say experiencing a change in a hardened position is humbling and can bring into doubt just about, well, everything).

But social media. Jesus, it's a bitch! You can try to be reasonable but again and again (and again) you run into the "Davids Roberts" of the world, and the pressure to strike back builds. No one can contain themselves all the time. One thing I particularly like about Jesse is that he is so even-tempered and balanced. "Look." he says, "Here are the facts and the uncertainties. What can, and can't, we make of all this?" I wish I could be more like that.

But even Jesse, G*d bless him, has to let some steam out occasionally. Let the Egyptian first born die, just this once. Dayenu!

I understand the sentiment. I really do. But I don't have to like the the piece.

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It's amazing how little being an actual subject matter expert matters, isn't it? You'll just be accused of being a "well actually" guy, or "gatekeeping" when you try and correct bad opinions and information, ask me how I know.

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One thing Roberts got right? Trans issues absolutely drive people bonkers, and to take positions that are not only indefensible but downright unintelligible.

Trans maximilists remind me of libertarians, who will twist themselves into all sorts of rhetorical knots just so they can defend their philosophy as 100% consistent. Gender theory often has no point of contact with the real world, but its adherents cling to it like religion.

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You are hilarious, Jesse! This is why I became a Blocked and Reported subscriber and then a subscriber to Singal-Minded. It has become must-read as soon as it hits my inbox.

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Bravo, Jesse! We need more Baddies like you in journalism 👏👏👏💕💕

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