One of my favorite things about being a transgender journalist is writing the same story every six months while cisgender people pack mud in their ears and scream, “What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails! What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice!”
Like Sisyphus, one must imagine Heidi Beedle happy. The latest boulder to push up the mountain is Abigail Shrier’s new book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.
It caused controversy when Target announced it would be pulled from its shelves Nov. 12, following outcry from the trans community. After comparing the market shares of “trans people just trying to live their lives,” and “pedantic cis people looking for an excuse to demonize others,” Target sided with the latter, and announced Nov. 13 that it would restock Shrier’s book. Another victory for the “silent” majority that never seems to shut up, despite “cancel culture.”
In a Nov. 7 piece for Quillette (the former employer of alt-right snake oil salesman Andy Ngo) titled “Gender Activists Are Trying to Cancel My Book. Why Is Silicon Valley Helping Them?” Shrier describes the “efforts to suppress my book” — the same book that Amazon.com currently labels a “bestseller.”
Shrier defends her book, essentially laying out an argument for “rapid onset gender dysphoria,” the theory that suggests increasing instances of young people identifying as transgender are simply a result of social contagion. The concept first appeared in a 2018 study in Public Library of Science, but was widely criticized by academics and scientists. The journal issued a correction and an apology, but not before the discredited study was seized upon by every pundit looking to justify the editorial position that trans people are icky.
The book’s editorial reviews provide a who’s who of anti-trans media personalities. Dennis Prager, who complained about being unable to use the N-word and who is partially responsible for the recent explosion of anti-communist sentiment, said Shrier defies political correctness to write “about a terrible new plague that endangers our children.”
Ben “facts don’t care about your feelings” Shapiro called Shrier courageous. Reviewers also include Kenneth Zucker, fired by Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for espousing conversion therapy; Ray Blanchard, who developed the debunked theory of autogynephilia, which essentially suggests that trans women are sexual deviants; and Michael Bailey, author of The Man Who Would Be Queen, the 2003 version of Shrier’s book.
Irreversible Damage is less a courageous exposé of a topic deemed taboo by liberal wokescolds, and more a rehashing of scientifically dubious claims that give ammunition to bad actors and hatemongers. Trans people aren’t trying to stifle dissent or silence detractors; we would just like the people speaking about the trans community to actually know what they are talking about.
Books like Shrier’s have a profound impact on trans people and how we are viewed. Misinformation about us is used by legislators to ban trans people from accessing medical care, participating in sports, using the bathroom or staying in a homeless shelter. Calling it “bullshit” and asking editors, publishers, retailers and lawmakers to treat it as such is not censorship. It’s self-defense.