Twitter, Trans Kids, Call-Out Culture, and a $10,000 Blunt



Ironically, one of the main points i've gathered from trans activist/allies i've talked with on twitter, is that because they've spent their life on the bottom of the dogpile, that they should have the right to dogpile on anyone else. But it's really just Trump syndrome: A few hyperconfident bullies have told the masses of trans people that it's OK to dogpile this way, that they've got your back and will aggressively fight for you, right or wrong, and that's what's important. These folks have become just as obnoxious and anti-knowledge as trump stans on twitter, and I'm a bit ashamed of myself for not realizing why sooner: OF COURSE the Trump technique is effective on broad swaths of people, it's a tactic as old as time. Identify outsiders, attack them, and do so on with-us-or-against-us terms. Rinse and repeat each generation with new identity groups.


Wow, yet another Herzog piece whinging about the most annoying assholes in the media being called annoying assholes on Twitter. Glad Steven Hsieh's departure has cleared the budget for even more of this!


You're one of my favorite voices at The Stranger and I regularly refer my friends and loved ones to your work--particularly on this subject, which requires real bravery to editorialize on in today's social environment, no matter how nuanced and even-handed one's commentary may be.

Also, if I were you I would go ahead and cut the cord on Twitter. Let it rot.

All the best,


What's that, you say? A group of people on social media, people who happen to be mostly white and were socialized the way that people with penises are socialized, think that only people who agree with them should be allowed to speak and everyone else should be aggressively silenced, with threats to their livelihoods or even threats of physical violence (so womanly) as punishment for those who fail to fall in line? SHOCKING. UTTERLY. SHOCKING.


"Now I engage with the ideas themselves." Unless it's the idea that prostitution might be harmful to women as a class. That one gets no engagement from Katie Herzog.


@6 you are confusing "engaging with an idea" with "agreeing with me". The world does not revolve around you, Rolando74 - if that even is your real name.


Agree, twitter is toxic. And fb filled with alarm and horror about babies ripped from their mother's breast.
There's nothing to stop a trans woman writing about these topics and if the piece was as you say well considered and researched, let the noise makers eat cake.


“According to this logic, the White House press corps would have to be made up of 70-year-old men with giant egos and tiny brains.”

Well no, that doesn’t follow the same logic at all, but that’s beside the point.

From what I’ve read today people are annoyed by the trend of desistance as the hook for articles about trans kids, and though i see why this might be frustrating for trans people/advocates, many of them make the unfortunate choice of attacking the writer rather than the idea, and this is very bad, but twitter’s emphasis on brevity only encourages this level of discourse.

Twitter will always be a cesspool of bad-faith arguments and verbal abuse, but there are thoughtful critiques of the desistance trend out there in media outlets that allow more room for nuance than 280 characters. Perhaps try engaging with those rather than someone’s brain farts. You’re not doing a public service by tweeting a sick burn at someone you disagree with.


Katie, are you hooked on pot? Do you need it every day? Then it's no longer recreational. If your not hooked, then it would be no problem to stop for 2 weeks starting tonight.


All drugs are a dead end. The Big Circus is already in your head, and it's called Imagination, drugs diminish it. They will fool you every time.


sorry to hear how beleagured the freethought love-in wasn't; now that heterodox is about defending the status-quo, as ever, it just makes sense. takes from roxane gay and lena dunham is tumblr culture ported to twitter; these sites matter until there's another site with more matter, as capitalist ideology has seeped so deep it's no longer a virus but bacteria essential to our being. less hashtags more hashhags; less personal narratives more interrogating ideas. anyways, did anyone else report on thr $10k bouquet? i'm wondering: will it get you high?


I would imagine that Nicole Cliffe being so close to Daniel Mallory Ortberg, who recently transitioned, may be on a hair trigger on dismissive twitters.


Good thing I had never even heard of this Cliffe person…

Excellent post, Katie…I had no idea that the Stranger is maturing and I’m quite delighted.


@ 5 bingo.

The trans activist community is outright hostile to and silencing of detransitioners. They pay lip service to “these stories must be told” but goddess help any journalist or publication that dares to do it. Katie, I remember from your peice that many detransitioners felt excommunicated and shamed for realizing they weren’t trans. No wonder given that their very existence is treated as an obscenity that shouldn’t be mentioned by some “progressive” queer activists.


Gender is a social construct!

Unless you're a man born with a female brain ... apparently.


If people criticized you in a particularly abusive manner (and it's the internet, so they probably did), that's not okay. However, I've back-read your work here for context, and I'm not surprised people think you're being an asshole about gender - in fact, I'm surprised that you seem to be surprised. You're writing about gender in a deliberately inflammatory way. You wrote a whole article that was basically just "this person is stupid for identifying as nonbinary instead of as a woman, and is also definitely straight". I agree that a queer couple with more typical challenges in starting a family should've probably been featured, but still, I don't know why you expect to be taken in good faith?

Also, your article about detransition wasn't a really good article about detransition that was tragically lambasted for being written by a cis person - you didn't really know what you were talking about, and you didn't engage with the issue in any way other than the surface "Did you know that some people detransition? Really makes you think".

You didn't talk at all about how detransition itself can be temporary and not reflect a person's long-term identity, and how several people who were in the news for detransitioning ended up deciding that transition was right for them after all - it's the same as how "actually I'm not gay, I'm straight after all" sometimes means someone really did misunderstand their orientation but sometimes is a part of someone's journey to a stable gay identity. If this was about gay people, then including only the perspectives of formerly gay-identified people who now think nobody should be gay and not including the perspective of people who went back to identifying as gay at all would, uh... come off a little less than balanced, right?
You didn't talk to the trans people about detransition as deeply as you talked to the detransitioned people about detransition, so the trans people come off like they're giving the usual approved party statements while the detransitioned people are speaking the gritty truth. Also, you only seemed to talk to detransitioned people who seemed to think transition was a bad choice for anyone, while also treating those sources as politically neutral even as they talked about their politics. Not all detransitioned people feel that way - many think that transition was the wrong choice for them but potentially the right choice for others - and every human being on earth has an agenda, especially the ones who are openly discussing their agendas with you. The fact that they are not expressing their agendas in an abusive way does not mean that they don't have them.
Radical feminism isn't mainly about defying gender stereotypes, although it's something many radical feminists do value. It's mostly about taking a class-based approach to gender - i.e. prioritizing the group "women" over individual members of the group, with the idea that improving things for the group will improve things for individuals and that many culturally-sanctioned routes to individual empowerment for women are often a trap to keep women in their place. Generally, this leads to the idea that porn, sex work, and kink are to be avoided, along with most approaches to sex positivity, because they fall in line with a pattern of patriarchal violence and exploitation. Some, but not all, radical feminists believe that transition also falls in line with this pattern. This class-based approach defines radical feminism more than a belief in gender stereotypes, because some, but not all, radical feminists believe that gender stereotypes are true to some extent - that men are biologically predisposed towards violence, while women are biologically predisposed against it. There's a lot of different approaches, but mostly just... there's a lot here besides "gender nonconformity is good", specifically a lot that the readership of a generally sex-positive site would probably not agree with. I disagree with most of it, and funny enough, I am still in favor of people getting to be as gender-nonconforming as feels right to them. Also, the pattern of extremely abusive behavior toward trans women (and of abuse OR love bombing towards trans men) goes beyond a few bad groups - not all radical feminists or radical feminist groups do this, but it's common enough that plenty of people are wary of all of them.
You also talked about a lack of gatekeeping as a potential factor for why people are detransitioning, but you didn't really go into its effects. It's not just about whether requiring trans people to socially transition before taking hormones is oppressive! More gatekeeping meant that trans people who were the least bit gender-nonconforming for their target gender, including gay and lesbian trans people, had to present themselves as hyperfeminine/hypermasculine and straight, and if they couldn't or wouldn't do that, they were not allowed to transition. In general, more gatekeeping is also hostile to questioning - if someone has to have a therapist sign off that they're trans enough for hormones or surgery, then they're not going to be free to talk to that therapist about any second thoughts they might have, because that means that they might not be allowed to transition if they come out of that questioning process still wanting to. Most of your sources talked about how they felt like they were rushed through the questioning process and didn't really have the chance to sort out their feelings, so why would it be better to return to a system that disincentivized sorting out your feelings even more?

I'm also not a fan of how the spectre of transtrending is handled because a lot of it just seems to be how questioning works when it isn't demonized, but I'm not really sure how to articulate my thoughts on that, except that the bit about the parent and kid making jokes about transtrending sure does bring back memories of reassuring my homophobic mother that I was definitely not a lesbian anymore to try to earn her love and approval. Anyway, there sure is a lot to legitimately criticize here - and I'd have pretty much exactly the same criticisms even if you weren't cis.


"You're writing about gender in a deliberately inflammatory way"

Ah yes, when you find basic realities "inflammatory". Tell me again how you're not like a Trumper?

"You didn't talk to the trans people about detransition as deeply as you talked to the detransitioned people about detransition"

Why should trans people be the voice on de-trans people? You seem to be eating out your own illogical a$$ with that argument. It's like you're arguing de-trans people do not exist. My, what violence! Almost murder!


'Will it get you high?' @13? From a $10K blunt, you shouldn't hafta come down for ... quite some time -- depending on tolerance. If it lasts less than ten years, I'd call it spendy.

"You’re not doing a public service by tweeting a sick burn at someone you disagree with." --Blip. Well said.


@21, How the hell are you getting any of that from what i wrote?

I read a number of pieces by trans writers and advocates who were complaining that a lot of the recent cover stories ostensibly about trans kids are actually about non-trans kids. People on twitter are attacking the authors of these pieces but people writing long-form critiques are confronting the ideas and explaining their frustration.

I am not arguing for or against anything other than engaging with arguments rather than attacking writers. Anyone looking for substantive criticism on twitter is only going to be disappointed, but if you want to see angry people venting their spleen twitter is the place to be. The medium encourages cathartic bursts of emotion over slow and careful deliberation.


@17 lol the guy who thinks lobsters are analogous to humans because they are two among millions of species that rely on serotonin as a neurotransmitter has no business being part of anything with the word "intellectual" in the name


"thorough, nuanced, impeccably researched"- everything the stranger is not.

@1- Trump is responsible for call-out culture? That's about the dumbest fucking thing I've heard in awhile. The left has been eating it's own for much longer than Trump's tenure. There was an interesting article about the political minefield that has all but killed lesbian bars and events in Portland.


That disappointed, let-down feeling when you start reading an article about a $10,000 blunt and the author bolts before the unwrap ...


Katie, just a friendly reminder that when people like Dave in Shorline are "on your side" you should probably give some thought to how you're expressing yourself and your positions.


"Katie, just a friendly reminder that when people like Dave in Shorline are "on your side" you should probably give some thought to how you're expressing yourself and your positions."

And there you have it. Stick your fingers in your ears and just go "nah nah nah". Forget her actual argument, just scream, point your fingers and soil your knickers.


I just joined Heterox and want to start organizing open mind events in Olympia.

I am done with the current TESC type of activism and ideology. I am deprogramming from the cult. I do not want to be aligned with this group. At first I thought it was just tactics, the more I researched, the more I realized the foundational ideology lacks any sort of scientific rigor. Like white fragility is basically a concept that is made up with no testing yet accepted against all logic as fact. One example.

@5 I really think that is something that cannot be talked about but is so real. Transwomen take over and talk over women all the time, I have seen it so so so often. I also had one woman, who was really close to me, pull some hard core patriarchal stuff on me, and when I pushed back, she was the one who was hurt, she refused to see the sexism in her acts etc, and cut me out. This is also visible in the KILL ALL TERF and PUNCH A TERF today memes. When I called this out on my own FB page, I was labeled transphobe, told that was some heinous thinking, saw violence justified when it comes form an oppressed group, schooled with a bunch of links etc. so yeah, they ALL defended violence against women. I am out.

Also i do not want to be in a movement that basically celebrates your oppressed status. I would rather meet people as people not as identities. I have been loving France Lee's work on ethical activism, and would love the Stranger to interview them. They gave me the courage to start speaking out.

I will continue to speak out as I have been vilified my whole life for one thing or another - punk rock, fat, bi etc The suppression of speech and ideas is not something I stand by and I will not be silenced by these bullies.

Tangie is one my absolute favorite strains.


"You can’t argue for visibility and then claim that no one is allowed to write your stories but you." Exactly right. Thank you Katie.


Dear Concerned citizen in olympia, welcome back to the real world.


@23 if it got you high for a decade that means a wild toker like herzog, who presumably will be spending more than $2.75/day, would save money in the long run. i have lost my $10k so i'll never know about it, and still the question "will it get you high?" desists an answer.


Wait, so now I have to pay attention to what people are saying and not just who is saying it? Sounds like a lot of work.


@20 radical feminism is built in the idea that it is false that those who carry a fertilized egg to term and nurse the resultant baby humans need controlling (ie a system of oppression that is biological- or sex-based is unnecessary and a lie), and those subject to this lie can be liberated from it and its systems of control. rf takes on class, gender, sex work, etc., are consequent and secondary to this understanding.



@20 "You wrote a whole article that was basically just "this person is stupid for identifying as nonbinary instead of as a woman, and is also definitely straight"

If this is your takeaway from the article, you are simply too stupid to comment on this or anything else. There is no reality in which anything you said is true. You are either incomprehensible stupid, or a liar.


I respect and appreciate your work. I've also been realizing, although fortunately not from the bottom of a Twitter dogpile, that left-wing groupthink is a real problem.

I found out through the grapevine months after the election that one of my less-close friends had voted for Trump. It has challenged my sense of my own ability to discern who is and isn't a decent person. I now know that someone who was always courteous to me (a woman) and whom I assumed to be basically equality-minded is in fact racist and sexist to the degree that would be required to accept Trump's presidency. (I don't think he voted for Trump because he's racist and sexist, however; I think he voted for Trump because he's a libertarian who wanted to see what happened when you brought in more right-wing governance and he didn't realize/didn't care what that would mean for women and minorities.)

At the same time, I've realized that just being part of the same social set with some apparently shared values doesn't make a person trustworthy. That goes for any of my left-leaning friends, as well, and specific evidence for it is the readiness of my male friends to try to dictate how women should conduct their feminist practice. Left, right, and middle: sexism is everywhere. I am trying to use this realization as inspiration to be more self-directed, ecumenical, and rigorous about forming my own opinions on things.