A Response to the Uproar Over My Piece, "The Detransitioners"

Comments

1
So...basically, this is a non-apology apology, I am the victim here? That doesn't seem to cut it. Katie, you need to try again.
2
as a reporter, is my job to influence politics or just to cover them?

I thought that at the Stranger the whole point of covering politics was influenced them. Or at least that was the case in years past. And that was what the Stranger's best writing in those days did.
3
Great job, Katie.
4
@1
Wut
5
@1 This is doesn't seem like it's trying to be an apology. And I really appreciate it. This is exactly the sort of "exhaustive review of the facts"-type response that I wish was way more common after this sort of dust-up.

The original piece, Danni's response, Ijeoma's response, and this response are all valuable together. We don't have to declare winners and losers. I'm just glad that I learned so much.

I wonder that if with topics like this, it's actually impossible to write a "balanced" article and be a good ally at the same time. The status quo in regard to trans exposure, rights, and safety might be simply too fucked. The outrage at the original piece seems to come from a belief that if any writer dares write anything about trans issues, it must be absolutely unmistakably pro-trans in every conceivable way. I'm not comfortable ruling out the belief that the brutal reality transgender people face justifies that requirement. And I feel like if that bothers you as a cis commentator, then you should direct your frustration at transphobia, not at trans people and their allies. Just like how straight men on the internet frustrated at the rising tide of social justice content online should direct their frustrations at bigots, not at activists.
6
@1: It's not an apology on purpose, because, as clearly stated over and over in the post, and with copious, careful evidence brought to bear, there's no need to apologize. She's unhappy and sorry that miscommunications occurred and relationships frayed with colleagues and community members, but the entire point is that despite those ruffled feathers, the wind that ruffled them was right and true.
7
Its a dangerous time when out-and-proud bigotted power junkies run our houses of government, and meanwhile the broader population of people who should represent a unified resistance are instead broken up into scattered, impotent factions.
8
"I believe in free speech, always and absolutely, even when it’s nasty shit I disagree with written all over the internet. That might make me a bad social media manager—or even an imperfect ally—but it doesn't make me a bad reporter."

Is this apology article really the best place for an appeal to "free speech" when the speech being discussed (outside of the scope of the content of the original article) is the usual brand of alt-right hatespeech?

Yes, we know it exists, does it really need a shout out?
10
Sigh i used to think the left held the moral high ground but more and more we're mimicking the right.

It was a fair piece.

Have you read "conflict is not abuse"? I read based on Rich Smith review, and I think the underlying theory is dead on, when we have conflicts we want to turn it into abuser/victim so we can shun the other person. The fact that your attacks aren't sharing your piece so that people can read it and make their own decisions makes me think once again we're failing into the pattern that Schulman describes.

Anyways for a lot of long time readers of the stranger this peice seemed like a return to form.
11
@5
I read the article and thought it was a good balanced one and fully expected the uproar. All you had to do was watch the attacks Alice Dreger suffered
I don't think you can right a 'balanced' article and be a good ally because any more a 'good ally' means unquestioning blind agreement.
And what about those who are considering 'detransitioning'? Don't they deserve to have their voices heard? How many of them are thinking about it but don't see any support?
I think a big part of this is the insistence that tomboy girls and effeminate boys are in need of transition; not just another way to be boys and girls. If what they see is the gender binary; then they're going to think that they need to be the other.
There have been lots of us who didn't fit the 'gender binary'--we just went on and lived our lives without having a hissy fit over "what the culture expects".
12
Oh boy, with that non-apology it's going to get worse before it gets better.

I thought it was an interesting topic. It's something I'd wondered about--transitioning is a huge life decision, and surely some people must regret it.

That said, I could tell the article would spark criticism. It doesn't play by the latest rules of progressive internet discourse, which I will attempt to lay out below because I haven't seen them laid out elsewhere.

If you're going to write anything nuanced about a minority group, you MUST be a member of that minority group (this is where you fucked up the biggest-- I don't think it had to do with your word choice)

Bringing up a view that goes against the latest progressive party line (to "consider the other side" or "play devils advocate") will tarnish your reputation.

You must immediately shut down any social media discussion that is not sufficiently progressive. This can be done most effectively by blocking the offenders or by snarky comments

If you are called out for disobeying one of these rules, you will be asked to apologize. If you do, your apology will be assumed to be insincere, and you will be dragged further.
13
@10 indeed. I had to leave social media because the vitriolic, ad hominem (and often arbitrary) attacks from those who I had previously considered "my people" were too disheartening. Katie wrote a well-researched, fair and nuanced piece. The (sadly predictable) reaction is very worrisome. (Fwiw I have thought about transitioning and consider those who go through with it extraordinarily brave. Katie's piece helped me to clarify some of my own thoughts around the issue and to be more secure in my gender-nonconforming, non-binary queerness.)
14
God damn it's always fun watching these intersectional knife fights break out.
15
Hang in there Katie and don't let the bullies get you down.
16
The left eats its own; meanwhile the right comes together and elects Donald Shiteating Trump.
17
Katie,
I just read more on Facebook and Ms Uluo's disturbed pointless rant. I am very sorry you are going through this idiocy. Stay strong and get away from The Stranger.
18
Btw the amazing thing about the ranters is that they offer NO substantive criticism of your article.
They have nothing to say.
So insecure!! Sad!
19
In terms of saving lives, articles like this will do a lot. The visibility from articles like this can put pressure on WPATH to include recommendations for therapists and doctors for care for detransitioning clients in the next edition of their standards of care. Lives are actually on the line, although not in the way most critics of this article conceive. Bravo!
20
when people insist you need to discard the narratives they deem nonessential to protect their own (essential) narrative, there is no good time to have published or to speak up; there will always be "the harm it will do." it's a silencing tactic against an explored reality for the sake of an imposed/presumed reality of "natural order" in which we are because we are because that is just how things are. the only way to protect ever-shifting identity (personal or one imposed) is by annihilation of dissent and contrariety. good on herzog and hopefully the stranger for not falling for the scheme.
21
I read the Ijeoma Oluo FB post (and watched portions of an insane 26-minute response video) and I can only come away that Ijeoma is a bully.

Katie, I appreciate what you wrote here and the lengths you've taken to explain your process. Thanks.
22
don't worry about Ijeoma Oluo. She is getting more rigid and crabby with every passing year.
23
Sigh, it's disconcerting when addressing criticism is seen as writing a hit peice :(

24
Ijeoma Oluo is one of the best writers and thinkers in this city. She has a deep sense of integrity and responsibility that she holds herself to, and that she holds others to as well. She is also fair-minded and generous with people though--she is not out to shame anyone, she wants justice and to protect our most vulnerable people. Katie, I suggest you take a few days and really try to understand where she is coming from. This city needs journalists such as yourself to keep learning, and Ijeoma is someone you could learn from.
25
Your article regardless of intent is going to harm trans people. The effects of detransitioning are nothing compared to what trans people face. Are they going to be fired? Will they have their children taken away from them for it? Hell no. Why would you write something like this if you can't control when it'd be released? The anti trans bathroom bill is gaining momentum. I read the article. It doesn't matter how unbiased you try to make it sound, the impact is still there. Cis people are always looking for reasons to delegitimize us. I'm terrified my basic human rights are going to be revoked. We've had decades of shit like silence of the lambs and Jerry Springer as the basis for how cis people see us. Anything less then "nope, they're real people and they deserve rights" is going to harm our community right now.
26
JFC, someone is doth protesting waaaaay too much.
27
looking forward to your followup piece on people who stopped being gay
you can interview mike pence and everything
28
I liked the article itself, and thought it was pretty fair, but I do have misgivings about putting it out there without doing everything possible to mitigate the damage that will come from bigots using your fair article unfairly. Because of course they will, and it's not your fault, but it is your action and your responsibility.

If your open Facebook page is going to become a cesspit of hate, turn off comments. Even a free speech absolutist can suck it up and do that. You're not just a journalist, you /are/ a social media manager, like it or not, if you're in there at all.

If your article is going to be selectively quoted, you can defend by editing out every juicy sentence for taking out of context. Does it suck, does it make your writing dumber? Yep.

29
@ 25, If you think detransitioned people have it easier than trans people, you are greatly mistaken. Most of us are very gender non-conforming, sometimes to the point where it could affect our ability to get a job, safely use a public bathroom and/or move around the world without fear of attack. Many of us are lesbian, gay or bi, so have to deal with homophobia. We get treated like we're crazy and delusional because of our past transitions. Our bodies are called "mutilated" and treated as less than, just as all medically transitioned bodies are. We may still have special health care needs because of our past medical transitions.

Also having your face appear on right-wing websites as an example of a "disfigured freak" created by the "trans cult" is pretty fucking terrible and humiliating. Being objectified and used for other people's political agenda sucks big time

For me, life as a detransitioned woman is not that different from life as a trans man. I'm still a female-bodied person who passes for male much of the time. I use passing as a survival strategy because I don't trust most people out in the world to be respectful of me if they know I'm female. If anything, living as a woman now is more stressful than living as a trans man because it is not easy living openly as a butch woman who can pass for male. I deal with a lot of the same bullshit I did when I was trans and then some but suddenly my suffering doesn't count as much to some people because I call myself a woman now.

And then there's grieving and working through trauma and learning how to accept where I am now. Detransitioning has been so much harder psychologically than transitioning was. And it's not like transitioning was a total walk in the park. I did a lot of work on myself before and during my transition trying to understand what my deal is and how to manage my dysphoria. Detransitioning was a whole other level of shit to work through, from grieving the life I imagined I could've had if I'd never transitioned to working through my frustration that I couldn't just live as a happy trans man (because my life is much easier when I pass for male). It's not the same thing but it was just as intense as dealing with my mom' suicide.

Detransitioning has been rewarding but it has also been one of the most difficult things I've ever done. I could never have done it without other detransitioned women's support. Finding other detransitioned women has kept me going through a lot of hard time these last few years. There are way, way less resources out there for detransitioned people than for trans people. I don't know of any resources for detransitioned people that haven't been created by detransitioned people. Pretty much everything we've needed we've had to create ourselves.

The detransitioned women I know welcome this article that finally represents our lives and extends awareness of our experiences. We want to be more visible so we can let other people who are detransitioning or considering detransition know that they're not alone and that they can get through this. I put my story out there to help other detransitioned women get through the difficulties one often faces in the process and have the best life they can. Because detransitioning has been so hard for me, I want to do I can for the woman who come after me to make it easier for them. I and other detransitioned people will keep speaking out and bringing attention to our lives because there are a lot of people who need to hear our stories.

30
I appreciated that you told people's stories, but I think you screwed up with this 80 percent number. It's one thing to tell some individuals' stories -- that doesn't delegitimize the trans people who don't detransition. It's another thing to hand out a statistic that the vast majority of young trans people aren't really trans. It's one thing to say "all kinds of things happen in people's lives", it's another to say "look around at your group of five trans friends, four of you are living a lie."

"Some people say..." is some lazy journalistic bullshit practice when it's used to pass ideas that are misleading. This is not a place it's right for you to shrug and say "just because you don't like what The Doctor has to say doesn't make it false." You're a journalist, this is a big loose thread, you should have followed it.

Listen to people, they aren't saying they don't _like_ the number, they're saying it's very hard to reconcile with what they observe. It's so far off that we're not talking statistical chance here. Something is very different between what these studies are measuring and what is present in people's lives. Maybe the definitions, maybe the populations, maybe there are huge qualifiers missing, I don't know what's the discrepancy, I haven't read these studies. Have you?

This dude and his number frankly did not add to your story's heart, which was individuals. If you want to put it in, that's your decision, and you can't do the journalistic washing your hands of it. If you want to put it in, read the studies thoroughly enough that you can defend the number and understand what it is and is not.
31
@24 can you explain how this article is a "hit piece"? While I can understand the concerns around this discussion (right wing douche bags are real, and arr trying to take away trans rights), the attacks against the writer seem unfair, for example there was criticism of her and she addresses it, in a fair non aggressive way.


http://www.thestranger.com/books/2017/01…

"According to Schulman, conflating conflict and abuse encourages people to embrace the rhetoric of victimhood. Once a person perceives themselves as a victim of abuse, rather than a human being dealing with an uncomfortable and complex situation, they have overreacted and thus have escalated the situation. Now that the situation is escalated, the "victim" then uses their self-subordinated position to justify cruel actions. Once a person or group has been labeled an abuser, it's "okay" to scapegoat them and shun them, which, as Schulman says more than once in this book, "never, ever" helps."

32
I do also think you should have gotten real trans perspective into the authorship, more than just fourteen minutes talking with Danni here or there. Maybe find an actual trans co-author, or if no one is willing, think hard about what that means (and maybe it isn't just PC censorship?).

> Ijeoma doesn’t specify how my “knowledge and language” are insufficient

This is super-classic display of an old scene, substitute any group memberships: white person writes with good intentions about some subject relating to black people; black person tells white person they didn't have the background to understand some things; white person gets defensive and asks for articulation of what precisely they failed to understand. (Black person usually doesn't think that's their job, and wouldn't bother anyway because it's very hard to show someone how to understand what they don't understand when their self-respect would be damaged by understanding it.)
33
@24- You sound like a cult member. Ijeoma Oluo is a human and totally capable of being wrong.
34
@32- or maybe the person does not actually have a valid point. Unless a person is talking about their personal, subjective experience they need a better argument than "I feel this way." to convince others they have the truth on their side.
35
So zero attempt at actually presenting the common criticisms of that article or detailing some of the damning methodology in some of the research cited. This is just a pile of slimy re-framing with zero content actually interacting with the dialogues that looked more critically at the subject and research than you could bother.
/
Absolutely hilarious the amount of people using "Conflict is not Abuse" as an ideological bludgeon to dismiss every behavior and criticism that has happened surrounding the article; Schulman's thesis could as easily be applied to Herzog victimizing herself with deliberate framing X avoidance of uncomfortable criticism on a larger platform than any 'abusers' have access to. Yall read the book and forgot everything except the part where you read "use this in internet fights to deify ur favs".
36
@35 Herzog didn't paint herself as a victim. She addressed the criticism (and presented that criticism) that was out there and offered to speak to those who where making the criticism. Oluo refused to speak to Herzog, refused to link to her article, uses works such as "abuse", "victimized", "hit piece". Oluo refuses to even name Herzog. In Oluo video she says that Herzog bot censoring the facebook discussion speaks a lot to her motivation, and then literally a minute later clams she's never made any statements about Herzog motives.

I'm a fan of Oluo writing, and can see how people could be hurt around this article, but it does seem one side is using the victim/abuser framing and Herzog is addressing their points and offering a dialog.
37
Also the point of conflict is not abuse is to not dismiss dialogue. There should be dialogue around this article. The publishing time couldve been later, arguably shouldve been later since the stranger is considered a strong supporter of the lbgt community. We expect more from our friends, which is probably why this hurt more then if it was in the Seattle weekly or times.

Also the is a very good chance detranistion stories will be used by horrible right wing people.

At the same time do not these stories deserved to be told? A person "detransitioning" doesn't make some less trans then a trans person existing makes me less cis.

The problem is when you call any sort of dialogue a hit piece you shut down the dialogue.
38
And no Cantor is not worse than grabbing a quote from Blanchard and in describing him, neglecting to mention his unfalsifiable autogynephilia typology or his research plagued with sleeping with subjects and lacking supporting statistics.

Cantor, Blanchard, Zucker et al. - observably - stagnate in an incestuous peer review buddy co-op and people like Herzog fall for it without a second glance at who produces this brand of ideological research that sells on who and how it pathologizes: who, why its made, how its applied. After parroting their abstracts pieces like Herzog's are only left to pad their articles with insulation from delving into this rat-king of profitable bigotry or the criticism that breaks it down.
Smart.
39
The author has the opportunity to consider that The Stranger is happy to leave her high and dry, as is the progressive community. Honest consideration and reporting is no longer valued on the left or right. Both have fully embraced propaganda as journalism.
40
Being a progressive is tough. With friends like these....
41
@36/37 There is nothing in this response that outlines the wide-ranging criticisms of the content of her article. She describes some of the actions of two people but no actual criticism they or others made of the piece, just how those two people interacted with her before or after it was published by the Stranger.

Quoting an online parent poll about a new made up "rapid trans" dysphoria, declining to mention or direct to any of the other reasons (the vast majority) people detransition, for a few quick examples among many are why this is a harmful uncritical piece that reads as a cowardly lowkey ideological hit.
Criticizing a bad article doesn't demand these stories shouldn't get told and levelling that at criticism is some protectionist garbage for sure.
42
FWIW Oluo is 100% right about the stranger should not have published the murry op-ed. That piece was 100% blame the victim and 100% fucked up.
43
@41 we must have read two different articles because Herzog does clearly state the criticism. She does respond and defended herself. You may not like her answer to the criticism but she did state them and respond to them without using any victim/abuse language . That is exactly what schulman was talking about in her book.

Also what is the reason people detransition? A lot of the commentors on the main thread and on Herzog fb page seem to want to invalidate the experience and existence of detransistioners. There was a lot of "well their not really cis, they're really non-binary" coming from people demanding that trans identity be recognized (which to be clear, i 100% do). It was strange how easy the trans commenters refuses to recognize how the detransistioners identified (many in the article state clear their felt like their biological gender).

Also can people please post some article with studies disproving Cantor? I've never heard of him but U of T isn't a crazy rigt wing school. I'd really like to read some counter points (yes I googled, but I found stuff similar to whats been said in the threads, that he's a hack, but no actual evidence/studies).

"Danni told me that she doesn’t have many problems with the content of the article, but she alleged on Facebook that Tricia Romano, the former editor-in-chief of The Stranger, and I lied to her—that we promised her the story would not run until after July 7th, the deadline for the filing of Initiative 1552, an anti-trans bathroom initiative currently being pushed by a group in Washington state. "

"I know now that it was a shock for Danni to see the article published before the Initiative 1552 deadline, and for that, I am truly sorry. I hate that this has caused her distress. "

"“It was written by a cis woman without the knowledge and language necessary to responsibly report on the subject in a way that would not feed into the narrative of anti-trans bigots. The piece quotes a doctor widely discredited for junk science, with a well-known anti-trans bias."

"Ijeoma, according to a separate post, also took issue with my Facebook page"

"There are, of course, other criticisms of my piece, some of which you may think are valid. The trans activist Julia Serano—who also declined to be interviewed when I reached out—posted a lengthy blog post of her own"

"Some people have also complained about “nonbinary erasure,” and, sure, I get that. Nonbinary people want to be represented too. But this article wasn't about nonbinary identities: It was about people who transitioned from male to female or from female to male and then transitioned back.

Other folks are opposed to my use of the term “detransition” at all, but it is the term used by the detransitioners themselves. I know this because I asked them."

44
If you are committed to journalistic integrity on this issue, I would like to understand your use of the word "TERF." Could you define precisely what it means?
45
It really would be great if people could link to why James Cantor is bad. I never knew u of t was such a big name in this area and its not a rightwing school, and its publicially funded. In socialist canada ;)

I'm trying to find articles but keep coming across stuff like this:

http://www.jamescantor.org/bill-of-right…

46
The Amsterdam study is severely flawed. If a child quit coming there was no follow up to find out why. Instead they were marked as not trans. And remember...without parental support 50+% of trans youth will attempt suicide.By quoting from questionable studies you are enabling some parents to justify their actions in forcing their child to be someone they are not.
The president of the American Association of Pediatrics warns against keeping a child from being themselves. "I would like 'to remind you that you’re the hero of your own life adventure and that you can write your story any way that you dream it can be.' You are free to be whomever you want to be!" Let the child decide
47
Suddenly the Stranger is claiming to be sn objective, apolitical newspaper-of-record that reports rather than trying to influence? Convenient.
48
So long story short, people want true reporting and true stories from people suppressed because they think it might be bad for them politically, or give them uncomfortable feels.

Well, fuck them Ms. Herzog. You did a great job, and people who are too immature to handle truth and reality should go back to the kiddie pool until they grow up. Amazing how such progressives want to erase these people if they are politically or personally inconvenient for them. You would have to be a real asshole to think that.

@44: "Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist." Google is your friend.

@47: They have always done the "We are just a goofy blog!" when questioned on ethics, and the "We are a serious news organization" schtick when they want to be taken seriously.
49
@46, this article lays out in detail how the study is not severely flawed and answers to the criticisms you lay out: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/07/wha…
As a mental health professional I am very concerned about the push to treat pre-pubescent children as adults in regards to their decision making abilities, while important parts of their brain are not even developed yet. It's complicated. How can we affirm the trans community and support trans kids while also being ethical and thoughtful and holding in mind that some children with gender dysphoria will not end up trans? I would love more dialogue around this in the medical and trans community rather than the shut down of uncomfortable research findings and demonizing of someone like Katie for writing this article
50
@49
Your proposal is a good one but cannot be done in Seattle.
51
Sad to see Ijeoma casting the fact that her public comments were quoted accurately as some act of intimidation and retaliation. It's a shame she won't write for the Stanher anymore but it's her loss.
52
It is possible to harm people without intending to, even when writing with good intention. Focusing on detransition (which you accurately acknowledge to be rare) lends credence to transphobia, because the status quo is not an equal one. Trans people still face overwhelming amounts of discrimination. Focusing primarily on detransition is a disproportionate amount of coverage on a phenomenon that transphobic parties will and already use to invalidate trans people.

This reads like a non-apology apology that is focused on how you have been personally treated. Yes you invested time and effort into your work and the work itself may have been done well.

But, in reality it's not actually about you. It's about a well-intentioned piece that may be "balanced" in a vacuum, that is not actually being published in a vacuum. It's being published in a societal climate of overwhelming ignorance and active discrimination/invalidation against trans people. That this is a factual reality should not be intended nor received as a personal attack against yourself/your credibility/your ego/your work, which is well-intentioned.

You have the power to address this and make it better.
53
I don't know enough about any of the subject matter to have an opinion worth sharing, but it seems kind of inappropriate to use The Stranger's blog to respond to criticism that was posted on someone's personal Facebook page when you could just as easily respond there. Actually responding there would be easier. And more productive, because now you have trolls with no skin in the game taking sides and using an otherwise important discussion to settle personal grievances with specific writers and activists, as well as trans people in general. There is a better way to work through these disagreements than with a page-clicky blog post where someone is named and shamed without an opportunity to respond in real time.
54
This is a great follow-up to a fantastic piece. I look forward to reading more from this writer.
55

@53 I really don't get the whole "this is a bad use of slog". Slog is full of a lot worse journalism, such as charles constant attacks of Cliff Mass or Sean random rants.

The stranger and the writer was criticized so why not use the stranger to respond?
56
Katie, thank you so much for your excellent piece and I hope to read more of your work in The Stranger and elsewhere. You are a breath of fresh air in the stifling Seattle circle of social media outrage generation (Askini, Oluo, Brett Hamil among others). Keep doing your thing!
57
@53 what lines in this are shaming? Two public figures had publicly criticized this piece to their large following. Herzog responded to that criticism, how is that naming and shaming?
58
@57, she literally names her critics. Shaming is subjective but this isn't exactly a love letter. At minimum someone could have asked Oluo for a comment before running this reply.

A public blog is not an appropriate place to air a grievance that could be better resolved on the Facebook page where it was originally posted. There is more at stake here than just personal and professional disagreements. This topic deserves a better platform than click-baiting blog posts.
59
The article was wonderful, not just for its coverage of the subject but for its approach to journalism. In a media landscape that has become despairingly manipulative, politicized, and polemic on both sides of the political spectrum, it was a pleasant shock to read something that trusted its readers enough to share such important and sensitive information without beating them over the head with its opinions.

We seem to have reached a point where the act of expressing intelligent and nuanced ideas is a political statement in and of itself. Thanks, Katie, for putting yourself on the front line, you're a courageous woman, and we need more like you.
60
@58 so when public figures publicly criticize you, it's incorrect to name them when addressing their concerns?

And Herzog linked to all the criticism so that people could read exactly what was said.
61
@52 and @53 nail it. The problem is: why did the Stranger publish this article, focusing on extremely rare cases that you know anti-trans bigots will use as justification for their bigotry, right now, when a major bill is pending? And if you actually care about the impact it has, why not use your space on Slog to respond to critics and say "I understand the complaint and I too disagree with the Stranger's choice of timing on this. I wish I had been more insistent with my editor that we take into account the safety concerns of the community that will be affected by this piece." And if you weren't insistent, why not? Trans people's lives are at risk, they are extremely vulnerable members of our community because of the degree of violent hate directed at them. This bill impacts their PHYSICAL SAFETY. How can you write and research an in depth article on trans folks and still not feel a human moral imperative to do anything you possibly could to minimize the harm that it might expose them to?
62
24, 30, 32, 41, 61 <
63
24, 30, 32, 41, 61 <-- thank you.
64
"[Ijeoma Oluo]'s previously stated that she won’t be writing for The Stranger any more."

Thank god. It's hard to read non-stop complaining. The new left sucks. Can we keep the old left and Charles? I love reading Charles.

And I can't believe Danni Askini was ever considered a serious candidate for state rep. Way too much drama.
65
This. Is. Going. To. Get. Our. Rights. Stripped.
Cathy. Brennan. Is. Framing. This. Right. Now.
Congrats.
Thanks.
Fucksake.
66
This article is only one item on Oluo's list of alleged lapses of journalistic integrity. Taken together, they amount to a demand that she be invited to exercise veto power over any and all content published by the Stranger. In her facebook post she details not only her demands to the Editor that certain content to which she objects not be published, but also demands that already-published material be scrubbed.

Notice how many of the comments in this thread feature some version of "it may be fair and accurate reporting, but you shouldn't have said it." Now imagine what paper you'd be reading if every article has to pass this invisible, unaccountable community review board that decides before you read it whether or not it would be better if you didn't.

You don't have to imagine a world where freelance writers self-censor to avoid similar trouble, because we already live in that world.
67
It is not possible to discuss anything without insighting offense these days. People who agree on most issues end up in-fighting over who is the bigger victim and who has the right to a voice.
It would never be appropriate to call what Ijeoma Oluo is doing a form of tone policing. But it is ironic that a person who made her name as a writer for sharing her ideology/thoughts gets most of her press by being offended by other people's writing/thoughts now. No one can stay in the correct progressive/liberal/ideological lane all the time. Let's move on and keep conversing instead of shutting it down with the slightest provocation.
68
It's depressing that the left is turning into the right -- no dissent and no differing opinions tolerated.
69
I don't think that it's going to be any great loss if the stranger does not publish Ms Uluo.
70
With any luck, maybe Charles will quit in a fit of pique!
71
An excellent piece. Experiences shouldn't have to be censored to cater to the sensibilities of a few. The so-called liberal left is spinning itself into an incoherent echo chamber that has spurned any real efforts to liberate oppressed classes in favour of empty, outrage rhetoric. Please keep on writing.
- An Indian Lesbian who wants nothing to do with the 'community' anymore
72
Thank you for the thoughtful piece, Kate. I'm sure it's hard to ignore all the negative things said about you and your journalism, but the loudest and harshest comments aren't neccesarily an accurate representation of the majority of people.

It's apparent to me that you worked hard and put a lot of time and effort into your piece. I appreciate that, believe you are good at what you do, and hope that you continue doing it.

I look forward to your next project, trust it will be interesting and informative, and wish you the best in drowning out the screaming children incapable of reading something that doesn't fit into their worldview without attacking the author until then.
73
The idea that the existence of detransitioned people and hearing about them is some sort of mortal threat to trans people is completely bizarre and frankly a little emotionally abusive.
74
Does anybody remember the trial of the bisexual and how they were seen as a problem by gay people? One part was gay men tiptoeing out of the closet because bisexual was easier to deal with than gay. But, the flip side of that coin was bisexuality was seen as proof that sucking dick was a choice. So, gay people went on a collective campaign of bi erasure because bisexuals would be used as evidence against the gay community and to deny our community legal rights.

Danni is right to be pissed off that The Stranger published the article two weeks before the I-1552 finished collecting signatures. Considering all the hard work that she's putting into the No campaign and all the damage that bill can do to the trans community, it'd be a damn shame if it got on the ballot and if it passed. That's a politically strategic frustration and one The Stranger needs to own.

But, through queer activism, I knew a detransitioner before I ever knew the term gender dysphoria. I imagine they became gender non-binary by the end of their journey. This was before transgenderism could ever be considered "trendy" and the person was in their late 20s. It's impossible for me to deny their experience and also to deny the experience of the trans* friends I have. Personally, I thought the article was fair even if it had some shitty statistics and references. It's a hard line to walk: acknowledging detransitioners exist while not denying that trans people do as well.
75
@30 is spot on.

As for people complaining that people haven't brought up critiques of the article's content: the studies Cantor cites don't say what he says they do. They look at non gender conforming kids and see where they are later on. We don't see data on which of them aren't trans but are still NGC.
Read the articles, or at least the abstracts.
76
So, your rebuttal to criticism spends most of it's time assaulting the reputation of a community advocate and transwoman? If I didn't think you were a TERF before, I definitely do now. I guess the trans community knows just where the Stranger stands. Smh.
77
@75 'trans' is at once an identity, as in with 0.6% population number, and to describe people who get on surgery and hormones. the latter is a subset of the former, and the kids you're calling gnc could id as trans now, or as trans then, who is to say but them. maybe Singh's dissertation does but the other studies in Cantor's article don't make this gnc distinction, being mostly about about dysphoria going away or not, not their then-self id. the gnc line seems put on these studies to fit the absolutist was-is-and-always-will-be of current activist narrative. what's missing is a lot; they're about all there is and it's not much data, as Herzog wrote in her accurate, questioning, exploring, and illuming article. the link in #49 talks a bit about Singh's dissertation, and people both outside and well inside the criteria for gid (now just dysphoria) getting surgery and desisting respectively.
78
@74
The reaction to this article encourages me to sign the petition.

Trans advocates are going too far and acting like bullies.
79
This article is bad journalism and reflects poorly on The Stranger’s reputation for insightful reporting and support for the LGBT community.

This is a sensitive topic (dealing with the legitimacy of the transgender experience) but was written by a non-transgender author with no existing credibility among trans authors. The author has only selected specific transgender voices, unrepresentative of the whole, and aims only to satisfy the curiosity of a non-transgender audience. Transgender people should not be treated as curiosities, clickbait, props, plot devices or punchlines. With The Stranger’s long history in writing about LGBT issues they should already know this.

Also, context plays an important role here. This article was published a mere week before religious conservatives are to confirm whether they have met the criteria for placing an anti-transgender initiative on the ballot this fall. The Stranger cannot claim the LGBT community as its audience and blithely publish a contentious article about transgender people a week before the signatures are due for I-1552.

To illustrate, imagine if The Stranger published an article by a straight man called “Gay Conversion Therapy Success Stories” one week before anti-gay forces placed an initiative on the ballot to make conversion therapy mandatory for queer teens. Like that.

The Stranger is entitled to publish whatever articles they want to publish, but they can’t publish ignorant, insensitive and inflammatory articles about transgender people and claim the LGBT community as their audience. They should know this, and its says a lot about the weakness of their editorial team that they are defending this article. They should pull it, apologize and re-commit to developing an accurate understanding of transgender lives.
80
It was a well done article. It was balanced and made one think. You can't ask for much more of that. You owe no one a thing at this point - let them all say what they want but you don't own anyone a response. They are baiting you. The article did not come up with any conclusions - perhaps folks feel that was necessary in this world where everyone knows exactly how others should speak, think, act and write. That attention seeking lesser writers want to use you for their own fame is disgusting, but it won't last. There is no there there and they will be on their way down soon enough. Just wait it out and keep writing interesting, provocative, thoughtful and balanced pieces where others fear to go.
81
The Amsterdam study is NOT a study of trans-kids. It is a study of kids evaluated for childhood Gender Dysphoria. Kids do not need a trans-identity to meet GD criteria. Clinicians do not assume a GD diagnosis represents transgenderism (WPATH guidelines specifically call this out). So why does this article use GD to represent trans-kids, let alone through a study that also encompasses 47/127 subjects that didn't even meet the criteria for GD?
82
@35 Were you lobotomized? I don't know how else I can explain how incomprehensibly stupid your comment is. I hope you'd understand that... to de-transition... one must have previously *already transitioned*. So in fact, every de-transitioner understands the trans experience.
83
@82 my mistake - that was aimed at @25 not @35 :(
84
@83 Not all trans-experiences are alike among those who've transitioned or detransitioned. Also, the fact someone detransitioned means there likely is a wider gap of trans experience from those that remain transitioned. Detransitioning is a pertinent variable. I know a FTM detransitioner who considers herself an androgynous woman now. She felt more gender dysphoria the longer she was on testosterone, so decided to quit within a few months. Her voice is still in female range, but a little lower. No other noticeable changes. On the other hand, I felt less dysphoria the longer I was on testosterone and continued. I now read male. We both transitioned, but our experience of transition were very different. While we could share notes on what the first few months of testosterone is like with some agreement, most of the transition process was completely different for us.
85
@84 VERY INTERESTING

part of my annoyance with @25 was their initial blanket statement (The effects of detransitioning are nothing compared to what trans people face.) when of course, unless they were a de-transitioner themselves, would have no idea what the 'effects' are. I'm neither trans or de-trans myself so I left that little bit out...
86
@85 Yeah, I'm not saying I agree with them on that. I think the detransitioned can sometimes falsely appear to be transitioned in the other direction. Those people probably know more of what it's like to be perceived as transgender than I do. Even transgender people assume I'm a cis-male at this point because of how I "pass". However, other things are probably not as much of a palpable concern now for them, like the future of access to trans-healthcare in this political climate. That stuff is pretty scary for me. Again, everybody's experience is different, just some have more similarities than others.
87
@81 honest question (not trying to be rude or snarky) - what is the difference between a Kid with GD and a kid with a trans-identity?
88
What on earth does this journalist have to apologize for? She wrote a balanced article about a topical issue. Since when do people get to dictate when an article can be published and what it can say? It seems the author went out of her way to be respectful, sensitive and accommodating. She didn't have to. And yet still people are not happy and think she has something to apologize for. Ludicrous.
89
@81 the subthreshold kids didn't meet the criteria for (the now retired diagnosis) gender identity disorder, tho they had gender dysphoria according to the authors (literally in the title). yes the study, like wpath guidelines, have nothing to say about what a trans person is. wpath points out that there is no standard definition of a trans person, and the guidelines are all about treating gd, even saying that transsexual/transgender/gnc are culturally-based categories and that any of the three (ie including gnc too) make a "permanent" (surgical) gender-role change. so if trans were a clinical term, gnc can be trans.

given this exclusive emphasis on gd, no definitive trans-kid marker, wildness of childhood ids, clinicians assiduously avoiding identity and keeping to dysphoria and the best health outcome for the kid and adult (which may include surgery (which seems to be the "real" marker of a "real" trans person, except of course for all those who are trans but don't do that)), it is best and easiest to say there are no trans kids, that fluidity is actually quite rigid and kids are perhaps a bit childish. otherwise, call dysphoric kids trans kids and admit that desistance is real and commonplace.
91
@89 That's the tail wagging the dog. The subthreshold subjects don't get gender dysphoria from the title selected after completing the study. It's a condition they either measurably have or they don't. If those kids are gender dysphoric, then you are saying the clinical diagnosis for gender dysphoria is poorly constructed. To which we can then push this study to the side as it is using poorly constructed measures. And no, you don't get to call those kids transgender if they do not assert a transgender identity. A girl, that wants to play with boys but thinks of herself as a girl, is not transgender. There is no wrong way to express a trans-identity, but it is still a a discrete concept opposed from a cisgender identity.
92
@91

Part of the problem here is that for a scientific study to be acceptable to people with a trans perspective, there would need to be a clear and uncontroversial definition of trans identity for the researchers to use when evaluating children.

And the complimentary problem is that clear definitions of "trans" are a thing that many trans folk otherwise spend considerable energy fighting against.

You can't have both precise definition and fluidity. You can't have dynamic spectrum variance and distinct demarcated values. You can't reject categorization and still categorize.

The scientific method is entirely predicated on measurement, and (at least some) trans philosophy rejects (at least some) measurement. In effect, any scientific inquiry at all might be fundamentally incompatible with at least some trans person's worldview.

In this light, it is almost inconceivable that any particular attempt to apply the scientific method to human behavior will be acceptable to all trans people.
93
@91 i think you're oversimplify things.

Bases on this:
http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/07/wha…

They define gid as:

A. A strong and persistent cross-gender identification (not merely a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex. AA In children, the disturbance is manifested by four (or more) of the following:

1. Repeatedly stated desire to be, or insistence that he or she is, the other sex.

2. In boys, preference for cross-dressing or simulating female attire; in girls, insistence on wearing only stereotypical masculine clothing.

3. Strong and persistent preferences for cross-sex roles in make-believe play or persistent fantasies of being the other sex.

4. Intense desire to participate in the stereotypical games and pastimes of the other sex.

5. Strong preference for playmates of the other sex.

In adolescents and adults, the disturbance is manifested by symptoms such as a stated desire to be the other sex, frequent passing as the other sex, desire to live or be treated as the other sex, or the conviction that he or she has the typical feelings and reactions of the other sex.

B. Persistent discomfort with his or her sex or sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex.

In children, the disturbance is manifested by any of the following: In boys: assertion that his penis or testes are disgusting or will disappear or assertion that it would be better not to have a penis, or aversion toward rough-and-tumble play and rejection of male stereotypical toys, games, and activities.

In girls: rejection of urinating in a sitting position, assertion that she has or will grow a penis, or assertion that she does not want to grow breasts or menstruate or marked aversion toward normative female clothing.

In adolescents and adults, the disturbance is manifested by symptoms such as preoccupation with getting rid of primary and secondary sex characteristics (e.g., request for hormones, surgery or other procedures to physically alter sexual characteristics to simulate the other sex) or belief that he or she was born the wrong sex.

C. The disturbance is not concurrent with a physical intersex condition.

D. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

94
Now compare that to something like:
http://www.thestranger.com/features/feat…

In whichever Sarah Galvin (who's a great writer and I mean no disrespect, just using it as an example) identifies has trans because she feels uncomfortable with the social constructs around women, but is completely happy with her biology.

Based on that "trans" does not seem as defined as gid does., so I'm not exactly sure what you mean when you say the kids don't show a trans identity?

95
@90 what #92 said.. but of course my 2¢:

again(again), all the kids had gd, to varying degrees, according to the authors who are experts. gd is not the same as (now abandoned) gid. to no surprise, the more dysphoric (who thus made the gid criteria), tended to persist, those less so tended to desist, "tended" being the operative word. here even is a partial chart

g/b..........g/b
persister..........desister

24 23 .......... 24 56 total kids

23 21 .......... 14 22 gid
01 02 .......... 10 34 subthreshold

10 13 .......... 13 54 no transition
13 07 .......... 11 02 partial transition
01 03 .......... 00 00 full transition

3 peristers were subthreshold, some 40% boys 60% girls were gid and desister, only 4 fully transitioned, while nearly the same number of persist and desist girls partially transitioned; gid does have predictive flaws. yet if we are to abandon this study for these flaws we must abandon the mental healh field, which i suspect would be fine with many complaining about it not being what they need it to be if they could otherwise get funds and access for what they would like.

clearly tho there is a wide range of what actually happens with kids, and they are trans kids, who desist or not. but thanks to the trick of making a non-meaning of 'trans' clinically, none of these kids are trans who knows, even the full transition kids may not be trans, while all of the desisters could be trans, all they had/have to do is identify as such, or not. it's a cop out at best to disassociate gd from trans, or say desisters are 'just the wrong category whoopsy' when just calling gd kids transgender, in that seemig state of being not what one "is" is accurate and descriptive of much childhood identity. gender after all is a system of oppression that needs dismantling, as always-violent patriarchy is the ultimate authority to what "real" man and woman, girl, boy is.
96
If you have an issue with an article you can answer it with your own response or criticism. That's how free speech works. The notion that one article - and a fair, sensitive and nuanced one at that - is going to cause harm to transgender people is just hyperbole. These are the same leftists and queer activists arguing that the global, multi-billion dollar pornography industry - which trades on depictions or actual acts of sexual violence - is a matter of free speech. But one mere article is going to cause the end of the world as we know it for transgender people? It's obvious that this is all about censorship and controlling the narrative. If it were about addressing transphobic violence and discrimination then you would be focusing on the violent men who are committing most of this violence, not fixating on individual women or articles that don't align entirely with your perspective. You would think transgender activists would relish the opportunity to challenge these ideas, armed with their own facts and research. But no, they attempt to censor and silence instead. It's very telling and I don't think it does your movement any favors.
97
Herzog writes: "readers from all sides started commenting on my [Facebook] page. Some were supportive of the article, some weren't. TERFs and radfems baited trans folks into argument and vice versa."

I would like to know what Herzog's definition of the terms "TERF" and of "radfem" are and how she differentiates those.

I would also like her to provide examples of threats, name calling and baiting by those she categorizes as "TERF" or "radfem" in comparison to trans-identified folks name-calling, baiting and behaving aggressively.

I have yet to see a gender-critical feminist call for death or violence against a trans-identified person, nor have I read a report of a radical feminist ever physically harming a trans person. On the other hand, I see comments about raping, burning and torturing feminists coming from trans-identified folks quite frequently.
98
@97
I read that as an attempt to placate the TransBullies and didn't make too much of the remark though I share your annoyance.
99
@81: This some people say-wielding writer thinks they can conflate a "human interest" story with a popular approach to scientific research, but has little interest in understanding the research beyond peppering their article with plausible sounding but incorrect citations.
100
This isn't about Katie Herzog who risks getting her feelings hurt. This is about trans people who face real life and death consequences that are not fully understood by Katie or the mostly cisgendered commenters here. One of the most difficult lessons facing the liberal community right now is that we can still be hurtful despite our intentions. I cannot say it enough: our intentions, our feelings as members of a non-marginalized group DO NOT MATTER. The EFFECT is what matters, and we do not get to assume or decide what that is. We need to listen to members of the affected group when they tell us that our actions are hurtful, not invalidate their hurt to protect our fragile white cisgendered feelings. "When someone says they hurt you, you don't get to decide that you didn't." Get over yourselves and LISTEN. Listen to Ijeoma Oluo, listen to Danni Askini, because they are really sticking their necks out for this, they have so much more to lose than any of you. And you can bet that behind them are even more individuals who are rightly afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal. Katie Herzog does not need your protection, she still has a job, she is going to be just fine. Actual transgender people need your protection and they need you to listen to them because they are facing actual violence every day. Anti-transgender advocates have already started using this article to further their agenda because it is written in a way that makes it easy to do so. That is the real harm here.
101
@92 All studies are models. Models intentionally simplify and omit information depending on the objective of the model. There are intersex people, yet somehow we manage to study sex, often in binary terms. For many purposes, that's appropriate. For other study purposes such an omission would mislead.

The whole purpose of this line of research is to figure out reliably ways to identify children with a persistent binary-leaning transgender identity and are experiencing a severe gender dysphoria that will continue into adolescence and beyond. Study after study has shown that these particular kids thrive when allowed to socially transition at a young age. The study we are talking about followed four of them that socially transitioned, and none of them desisted.

With that purpose in mind we don't care about studying kids with a fluid or androgynous sense of gender. We don't care about studying cisgender kids with creative gender expression and play. Those kids are are being studied elsewhere, and are not in any distress when allowed to exist and be themselves. Finally, all the transgender people that have no childhood gender dysphoria, or will only experience it later in life, they have no reason to be the objective of this research either. Social transition is to alleviate childhood gender dysphoria for transgender youth that have been assessed as good candidates. If there is no dysphoria, there is no reason to socially transition or have a therapist involved at all. It doesn't mean these people aren't trans-enough. It means they would not be good candidates for childhood social transition.