A surreal parable about appeals to authority, overconfident dilettantes, and what happens when social media turns important controversies into team sports
I just want people to know that I, not Jesse, wrote this entire post.
OK, well, I didn't exactly *write it* write it, but I outlined its structure and main points, and let Jesse fill in the details.
Or, to be a little more precise, I didn't actually have any contact with Jesse, who doesn't know that I exist. But I did follow the Twitter battle as it was playing out, and thought of some snappy retorts that I thought Jesse could use. I telepathically conveyed these to him. So BASICALLY I'm the author of the long post that resulted.
Jesse's utter lack of journalistic integrity is shown by the fact that he did not cite or credit me in any manner whatsoever for my vital contributions. Harumph.
I know we all live and die by “lived experience” now, but doesn’t there seem to be just a little bit of a conflict of interest when trans people are all over the major studies and standards regarding transgender care?
As a complete outsider to the world of professional journalism, all the drama of the last few weeks seems incredibly odd and neurotic. When the NYT published the "schools hiding social transition from parents" article a few weeks ago, you could tell that a certain sort of NYC lefty millennial journalist--lots of denizens of the Gawker diaspora and extended universe, although not just them--decided enough was enough, and it was time for them to put their foot down. So first there was the Scocca article excoriating the NYT's recent coverage, then the GLAAD and NYT letters. And then the outrage--the outrage!--that the NYT told them to pound sand.
I don't know, there are times that all of this seems to be less about the substance of the debate on youth gender care, and much more about who's calling the shots around here ("here" being elite center-left NYC journalism and opinion). Youth gender care is simply the arm-wrestling match that they're determined to win, for winning's sake. I cannot, for the life of me, think of another reason why presumably intelligent people would consider it beyond the pale to say something as simple and common-sensical as "kids with GD and comorbidities maybe shouldn't always be treated the same as kids with GD only."
I think the last tweet from Edmiston reveals a very subtle but important fact in these Twitter battles. It’s a sentence that reveals their mindset. They are not looking for the truth, they are not studying something. In their minds, they’re in the ideological thunderdome. Academics and journalist fight for the crowd. They’re here to convince the average Joe to follow their ideology, and in this battle, anything goes.
It’s not that they lied, or that they’re doing bad science. That’s not how they think. For them science is not a tool to learn about the world. It’s a tool to convince people that their ideology is correct. Once you see it you can’t unsee. There are so many who use their vast knowledge of statistics to construct models that show what they want. Or great writers who use their mastery of written English to sneakily go back and forth from vague language to specific. It’s not about the truth. Many of them would probably tell you there is no truth.
Good on you Jesse. You’re a truth finder. Best part about being one is that reality will always back you. People might be able to twist words and statistics, but nobody can twist reality
Edmiston is a liar who very publicly tried to destroy Jesse's reputation and career. Why on earth should Jesse be sanguine about this?? He shouldn't feel bad for a second for not "taking the high road", whatever that means in this scenario. There is no high road to take.
Edmiston sought out Jesse, and picked the arena were the fight would take place. Then lost.
What else has Edmiston lied about in their career?
I think the way the NYMag fact-checker just dragged Chait (suggesting he's some incompetent who doesn't let her proof read his homework before turning it in) is possibly the most shocking thing in this sequence. If management at the magazine are ok with it, this shit will really never end.
And Jesse: you deserved to do a touchdown dance on this one.
An entertaining yarn, and good job fighting back. But this does only further my belief that everyone of conscience needs to be off of that stupid blue bird website now, if not sooner. As Jesse points out in this article, even when he was in the right, he was still contributing to the toxic team sports nature of the "dialogue" there and dunking on his enemies. In other words, there are no winners in a blue bird website fight. No matter how right you are, everyone still loses. The only sane, rational choice is not to play at all.
Me: I'm just saying that maybe children can't reliably understand the ramifications of losing their future sexual and reproductive capacity...
Them: WHY ARE YOU SO OBSESSED WITH CHILDREN'S GENITALS?
Let me offer a related comments. There is no such thing as AFAB and AMAB.
Newborn babies are not assigned male or female. That is just PC nonsense. The reality of male or female birth is observed and reported. It is perfectly accurate? Of course not. A very (very) small number of babies are born with ambiguous genitalia and cannot be immediately recognized as male or female. The estimate prevalence of intersex conditions (DSDs - Disorders of Sex Development) is in the range of 1 in 1500 to 1 in 2000.
CAIS is even more profound, but even more rare (1 in 7,000 to 1 in 10,000). CAIS individuals are born looking completely female. However they are not female. They are actually genetic men with complete insensitivity to certain hormones. Typically, they are raised as girls and think of themselves as women. But they have no uteruses and can never have children.
Most (almost all) live their lives as women (with no children of course). With modern technology this condition can be detected, but not corrected (what would that even mean?)
AMAB and AFAB are just PC BS. The reality of biological sex hasn’t changed since in billions of years and never will. What has changed is that we are now afflicted with a powerful Trans lobby that doesn’t like reality. Sadly, this too has precedent. Quotes from Camille Paglia.
She says that androgyny becomes prevalent “as a civilization is starting to unravel. You find it again and again and again in history.”
“People who live in such times feel that they’re very sophisticated, they’re very cosmopolitan,” she says. But in truth, they are evidence of a civilization that no longer believes in itself. On the edges of that civilization are “people who still believe in heroic masculinity” — the barbarians. Paglia says that this is happening right now, and that there’s this tremendous “disconnect” between a culture that’s infatuated with transgenderism, and “what’s going on ‘out there’.” She sees it as “ominous.” And she’s right to. This insanity cannot last. Again and again I say unto you: if you don’t like the Religious Right, wait till you get the Post-Religious Right. The post-Christian people who are coming don’t give a damn about your feelings.
One question I have over the recent kerfuffle re: trans youth medicine: proponents of the most extreme version of youth gender affirming care seem allergic to evidence that shows that careful assessment is not being followed, or at a minimum, can’t show that careful assessment as a normal human being would understand it (eg, more than 2 hours with a specialist before being prescribed blockers) is routine in this area.
I’m curious why this is such a deeply held belief that’s immune to evidence? Why do journalists, that appear to have nothing to lose in this matter, have such strong opinions on it?
"Edmiston also expressed frustration at my alleged transphobia and the fact that I didn’t reach out to him before quoting from the SoC: “It is so telling that these anti-trans journalists would quote my work, misrepresent it, but never actually reach out to me to ask me anything.”"
Am I the only one to think this is a bizarre criticism? If one looks up the authors of the SoC, there's a list of dozens. Why would anyone think to reach out to *this guy* to clear a quote? Did he know if Jesse reached out to any of the other authors? Did he think there was some magical way for Jesse to know he was the author of those specific words? Am I missing something?
I don’t know how you can stand it. You’re a stronger person than I am, that’s for sure. I wish every single journalist who vilified you would retract their statements and issue an apology, and I hope you get the ultimate vindication one day.
One of the worst things about today is that everything in the world is expected to move at the speed of Twitter. It is not unreasonable for someone to take nine hours or even--gasp!--a day to respond to a bunch of people hysterically subtweeting about the outrage du jour.
I swear the world would be better off if we shut down the Internet for three hours every day, so people could catch their breath and come to their senses.
The people radicalizing the population against trans people aren't the Jesse's of the the world, it is the actual trans activists and allies.
But you see, he identifies as the author of that sentence, who are you to question his lived experience?
I have some experience with TRAs (Trans-Rights Activists). A more dishonest group can not be found. They have repeatedly claimed that J.K. Rowling wants to ‘exterminate’ them. This is well after JKR wrote “I want to be very clear here: I know transition will be a solution for some gender dysphoric people” (https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/). They make up all sorts of stuff and get away with it, because trans is PC and PC rules the media. The statement (from the AP) that “a person’s sex and gender are usually assigned at birth by parents or attendants and can turn out to be inaccurate” is literally true, but perhaps not in the way they meant. A certain proportion (roughly 1 in 1000) of babies are born with a DSD (Disorders in Sexual Development) which make them appear to be male/female, even though they are not. For example, Caster Semenya was thought to be female at birth. He is actually an XY male with a DSD.
The phrase ‘assigned at birth’ is quite dishonest (but of course, very PC). Sex is ‘observed at birth’ and is around 99.9% accurate (see above for an exception). The fact that AFAB and AMAB are widely used shows you that power of the TRAs.