Tea for Two: A podcast about politics, culture and society and about how everyone is wrong except us. With Iona Italia, Helen Pluckrose and guests.
Episode 3: Jesse Singal
You can find more of Jesse’s work at the New York Magazine and follow him on Twitter @jessesingal. His controversial article on desistance can be found here: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/07/when-a-child-says-shes-trans/561749/.
To support the podcast and gain access to exclusive subscriber-only episodes, visit https://www.patreon.com/twofortea.
United States


00:00:09You're listening to two for tea I'm your host my own Italian and I'm her frequent co host Helen Pluck Raise This is a podcast about politics society science and art and about have everyone is wrong Apart from us this podcast is brought you an association with Larry A
00:00:27magazine a digital form for calm reasonable voices from across the political spectrum The podcast is entirely listener supported to become a patron and gain access to patron only broadcasts and other perks Supporters on Patrick at two for tea Welcome to the conversation Our guest this week is Jesse
00:00:52Single who is a contributing writer at the New York magazine The author of a forthcoming group called The Quick Fix on DH We're Going to Talk to Jesse about various topics are probably beginning with his adventures covering the beat ofthe Trans Issues Hello Jessi Welcome Clay Thank you
00:01:15guys for having me our pleasure Can you talk to us about how and why you first became interested in or were first commissioned to write by trans issues Whether you're of your views on the subject have evolved and changed as you've investigated more Sure Excuse me I was
00:01:35originally but I see this as sort of a sub beat of mine I I usually cover you know questionable social science particularly psychology has has been my main niche although I've written about other stuff too But a few years ago I wrote it I read a book called
00:01:54Galileo's Middle Finger by Alice Dreger who's a wonderful basically a science historian but also after this for intersex people And it holds stories about different areas where activism had clashed with science and I think that's a little bit of a false dichotomy That's just a simplified way of
00:02:14summing it up And some of her story centered around Michael Bailey who wrote a very controversial book about transgender people and and the reaction to his work and basically from there was sort of a short walk to learning about a clinic in Toronto Ah that had gotten shutdown
00:02:33because Ken Zucker its leader had been accused of conversion therapy and I ended up writing a long investigative article showing that many of the claims against him were either false are distorted In my view the whole thing had been a witch hunt and the clinic had been shut
00:02:49down you for no reason That like good reason that had been proven That was the first article I wrote on the stuff that really drew controversy so that the Blanchard book was no Sorry it's the Bailey It's Alistair Alice Trager writing about this trailer Michael Bailey's book was
00:03:12called The Man Who Would Be Queen Yep my correct That's that That's the one Yeah And it has to do with Ray Blanchard's model of basically of why male to female Trans people are trans which is genuinely a whole other podcast of its own But it's a very
00:03:31controversial idea among some trans people and they gave you his model is sort of not capturing their experiences or ah treating the Miss fetishists And my view Draeger's book was less about defending that research than whether or not basically academic freedom because barely young with a wave of
00:03:51harassment and false charges basically for writing a book about this idea if I could just because I remember reading that that book quite a while ago actually maybe about fifteen years ago Um Andi I think it was the first time that I thought about this subject in any
00:04:12detail Andi I remember that he had two categories of off male to female transsexuals or trans trans women We would call them now on one category wass homosexual transsexuals He called them So it was It was very very very unfeminine it Ah young men who just felt Mohr
00:04:39comfortable transitioning to be to being women and having in order to have relationships with men but from within a hour a female role hunt Thie Other category which I think was even more controversial Wasthe e auto China Filic my crack my saying this correctly Yes Which wass Ah
00:05:11Men who transitioned became women because they were um they got on erotic thrill from the idea ofthe themselves as women Yeah which is obviously extremely controversial And people have said that this just completely invalidates trans identity and is a kind of a kind of paranoid mind reading which
00:05:40you know reduces reduces the experience so that to this of the lowest possible ah manifestation you know so I am I tried I tried generally to avoid the whole subject of auto going a failure because it's not e so it's It's so heated And then so much in
00:06:02the in the arguments around it come down to Teo mind reading and sort of guessing other people's motivations But yes as Jesse was was saying and I think that the problem more was more with whether you agree with that concept or whether you think that it's feasible to
00:06:21diagnose this in somebody else on it and light and Mater de with whether people should be allowed Teo to talk about it whether they should be allowed to sort of raise different hypotheses and look into them which which is something that's really not sapling very much at the
00:06:39moment Well I don't want to talk over Jesse and hand the mic to you in a second but I remember a couple of things that remarks that l straighter made about it on one wass that that and I think I agree with this Which is if a Nadal
00:07:00tiff a consenting adult wants to remodel their body in some way or for consenting adult wants to transition I can't see who that harms and I so I don't feel that I don't know that it's important what the motivation is So if people really were motivated let's say
00:07:22by this kind of strict Jule scheme that Bailey outlines which seems unlikely to meet let's say they they were I don't really I'm not Ah I don't really kind of feel any sort of distaste for that I think Why not What if whatever floats your boat Whatever you
00:07:47want to do is fine on DH I think Draeger's few on this wass that one of the problems wass that People feel people very often feel strongly that in order for trans identity to be respectable it can't be bound up with sexual desire So one problem with this
00:08:18model with this simplified model is that both of thes theories I guess hypotheses or guesswork as you put it about why people might might Why specifically trans women might be what might be motivating older trans women is a desire for a more fulfilled sexual experience and that that
00:08:46is somehow somehow reduces the dignity of trans people by making it all about sex And I think Draeger's point wass that it doesn't matter if it's all about sex That actually the kind of though when you most have the strongest sensation off who you are sexually I whether
00:09:10when you feel the most male female or um or however it is that you feel is in a sexual situation when your desire ing someone or fantasizing or having sex or choosing a partner that's when you're most aware ofthe and keen on And that's kind of um Draeger
00:09:35was saying that is the purpose ofthe or one of some kind of main purpose is off feeling like a sext person is to feel like a sexual person You got sexual pleasure from this kind of view of yourself in your interaction with others through that view of yourself
00:09:55Yeah I mean Jesse I sorry I just think it's it's really complicated in a lot of the people desire to be seen in a certain way And there's a lot of weight put on the question not just of how are we going to treat people and are we
00:10:12going to give them access to transition Resource is But do we see them exactly as they want to be seen And that comes from a long history of trans people being told they're liars or they're mentally ill They're they're not really who they say they are So you
00:10:26know I I stand by my views on academic freedom and I think Michael Bailey was was harassed and slandered and all that at the same time I do think sort of old school sexologist haven't always done a good job understanding that there you know they're studying people's lives
00:10:43and they have some obligation to listen to those people and ah understand the potential impact of their work It just it all gets horribly complicated because as you're saying you could believe in Auto Gone Ophelia and believe that you know people should build the transition Which in fact
00:11:00was what Blanchard and barely did I just yeah part of the reason I this this subject It's just easy to sort of be misunderstood Talk about Auto got Ophelia and I also think the science is shaky and two directions I think it's unlikely that sort of a two
00:11:19type typology just explains everything about the Trans experience that is very unlike e Also some of the quote unquote the bunk ings of a lot of gun Ophelia They don't actually the bump The idea that some people could have these feelings and I think even really smart thoughtful
00:11:35the bum kings by trans people acknowledge Like for some people this explains and gives order to their experiences somewhere I once I was dealing with someone I think I'd contacted them for another Ah quoted them in another story about something marijuana related but it came up that they
00:11:53they viewed themselves a sort of a burgeoning auto gonna file they wanted Resource is for how to understand that aspect Of themselves So I think at the end of the day either you accept people stories about who they are and respect them even if you don't quote unquote
00:12:05believe them one hundred percent or you don't And if you respect them you should acknowledge that some people do feel this way and think that it gives meaning to their experience Well I do think that all I mean I believe in a kind of radical sense that all
00:12:20autobiography is fiction that when every given account of your identity you're giving in a sense a constructor is created account one that makes sense to you and it is useful enjoyable helpful for you So you're also sort of instructing people and how to treat you how to see
00:12:44you And I think that's completely valid Yeah well I'm in a huge amount of this Current debate is at root about whether trans people are going to be excluded from housing or lose their jobs and have access to hormones I think online and especially in sort of lefty
00:13:04spaces it's a lot more philosophical and a lot more Maybe ontological is the right word that it is one like the average the average person dealing with being transit America anywhere else has some very practical concerns like sort of in much the same way a member of any
00:13:22marginalized group like I Yeah I don't I don't mean to draw a comparison between gender identity in religion but they're very different things But you can There's a difference between saying I think Muslims have all the same rights as us need to have all the same rights and
00:13:37shouldn't be discriminated against and and saying I agree exactly with their interpretation of their doctrine Obviously I could disagree with a Muslim person's religious views but also believed they should have a full right to participate in society and not be discriminated against in all that Because different different
00:13:54trans people have very conflicting views on being what trans is And that's why I think we should just take the liberal approach of everyone gets to tell their own stories And as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else we should accept those stories and not you know not
00:14:08poke and prod non respectfully You know thiss was the argument James Lindsay and I made in our room and they say that an argument probably brought on rational approach to trans identity But I think if I understand you correctly you're you're saying that we can even though we
00:14:27are so I mean talking about lefties looking about liberals a swell We can find the common ground here without having to agree on absolutely everything because so many more of us whatever we actually think about gender how we think it works I agree that people should be allowed
00:14:46to fulfill themselves providing it dozens affect anyone else But then yet where we've become very divided on and on the philosophical level I'm it that the one question that makes my heart sink whether it comes from a gender critical radical feminist often referred to his turfs or from
00:15:08a trans activist is So how do you define woman on that is a sinkhole which you just get lost in forever because the hope the premises of just coming from such different places But d do you think Jesse that this whole sort of that the idea is the
00:15:28sort of social constructivism where we speak a reality into existence and then that our knowledge is defined by dominant discourses Underlines a lot off the trans activists anxiety about people like you about people like me giving on Dallas because giving any quarter a tall too ideas which which
00:15:53don't simply accept trans experience as it is portrayed Yeah I think the worry okay there there There are legitimate critiques One could make of any of the long stories I've written about this What I often see is an argument like Well this argument could be used to not
00:16:18let Trans people get access to hormones Or this argument could be used to force Trans kids back in the closet And for understandable reasons it it doesn't matter how explicitly I say no that's not what I'm calling for All people are worried about how ideas will be used
00:16:32on DH There's a reason for that I mean the concept The concept of I Q is a valid construct ER certainly said it does It does predict certain things but people reject it out of him because it's been used for bad purposes And I think people get those
00:16:49two ideas confused like whether or not a certain idea is valid and useful and whether or not it could be used for bad ends Because basically any idea could be used by bigots or or hate mongers toward that ends And when you when you restrict the range of
00:17:04acceptable discussions and ideas to those which could never under any circumstances be used for bad ends You you're not left with much to talk about Well Yeah I mean I feel that too that there's a certain kind of performative nature to this I I think of it as
00:17:27a kind of performance of sloganeering that people do So they want you to say specific words So they want you to for example are you Have all those people posting the phrase Trans women are women on DH I find that a really interesting on DH um problematic statement
00:17:52And I'm very resistant to being told what to say on DH I'm also you know I don't have a clear ah definition of where I would set the line It depends what you mean by women Um are you talking about difference in size of GAM eats or are
00:18:13you talking about how you function socially or how you feel Are you talking about neurology or some mixture of all those things I don't have an answer to that but I feel it's though it's there has been this kind of burglarized influence of postmodernism that ah discourse isn't
00:18:39just reflecting reality or exploring ideas but it's actually creating reality And therefore if you just say enough times the trans women are women then it has a sort of magical effect It's talismanic and I think we see this in other issues too I mean this is two larger
00:19:01topic to go into right now but we see this with for example the N word that if you just say that word you are automatically creating harm on attacking people even if you are saying it in order to discuss the word itself Aura's Recently a friend of mine
00:19:20was hauled over the coals for really long article she wrote which was all about why we should not say this word And she had one example of it right in the middle of the article Um on DH people went crazy about the article because the article contained the
00:19:41word right On DH I see this also with fat activists to that Sometimes there's ah a sort of a belief I think that it's not It's not even so much that they're concerned about fat shaming on DH rudeness and bullying all of which I'm extremely against Um but
00:20:12just that you need to just say if if you just repeat us many type enough times that are being overweight or obese has no impact on health And it will become true that all you need to do is just join the course of people saying this thing that
00:20:29the words have a kind of magical impact and I find that very much in their trance in some of the trans activists So I don't even think it's a community or a group or anything like that Just some trans activist I noticed this attitude Yeah I mean I
00:20:51just I think that's not rich As you said it's not restricted to trans actors and there is a subset of people not just on the left but on the right that are are a little bit too fixated on language and the idea that if we just talk about
00:21:05the right way everything else will sort itself out And I think particularly when you're talking about a online where everything's truncated and it's hard to fully loud arguments and be when it's generally when it's people who don't have a lot of other power and other context I could
00:21:19understand why you know if if you feel like you're not given a voice you're going to focus on language because that's something you can protests and try to control And in some cases language obviously can be hard But I just think there's a tendency not just in this
00:21:34issue but in others too Just absolutely fixate on language To the extent of everything else I just I did a piece for reason on It was a silly article like barely worth responding to But this article saying that the language of space exploration is racist because a word
00:21:49like colony ah races the legacy of you know Colonial harms And it's just like How could anyone who doesn't have a phD in whatever agree with that or it just it seemed like engender too designed to engender backlash rather than advance any events The world toward justice or
00:22:10understanding is just the word language Policing is overused but there are people who are just fixated on the idea of not of cleansing language and harmful influence And I just don't think that's helpful for complicated issues I see quite a divided by often say in so many arenas
00:22:28and particularly strongly when talking about gender identity is the divide between those of us who think that I mean we all think that language is important but we see you know the idea that we can get somewhere by discussing ideas vigorously by arguing them out by having them
00:22:51all in the arena at the same time and and talking about them versus the idea that that dominant discourses are structuring society and that were all No we're all quite oblivious to it And so it actually some kind of public service to really pick apart language at the
00:23:09level of the word on any interpretation which I can argue that this this here is evidence of a other deeply ingrained bayous which does harm to people is to be accepted then it if it's not If you don't accept that that that is what it shows then you're
00:23:27you're perpetuating the problem Your part of the problem Yeah I mean to the extent that online discourse is terrible right now A lot of it is just that when people make a claim of harm you're not allowed to sort of evaluate it like you would any other claim
00:23:45You need to just accept it like I accept that that that language was harmful and again sometimes languages harmful But if you have a system where there's sort of promiscuous claims of harm and no one's allowed to say you know ask questions like was that actually harmful language
00:24:00Would a reasonable person agree I think that's why in a lot of places it's just it's getting harder and harder to talk about stuff No Jesse I want to ask you I want to get away from consenting adults Our transition which I think all of us agree is
00:24:17a is a perfectly valid thing To how you feel about trans children on DH where you might there have disagreements with some trans activists on DH Um maybe you can talk to us a little bit about that by the phenomenon of D transitioning Sure So the two articles
00:24:42I've written that that caused the most controversy one as I mentioned was about the Toronto Clinic getting shut down as a result of this are really sloppily conducted process and there was very little transparency there There were false claims It was It was just a mess You know
00:25:01that that's centered around trans kids in adolescence and the question of whether the clinic was being too conservative or was conducting so called conversion therapy which I to this day I'm not aware of a single actual claim of an individual being exposed to conversion therapy there at least
00:25:22during the period when I was well during any period especially when I was doing my reporting And then more recently I had I had a cover story in the Atlantic which just took a very wide view over twelve or thirteen thousand words of the complexities of young people
00:25:37a gender dysphoria and the reason things are a little bit complex with young people is the research we have suggests that gender identity is a complicated subjective phenomenon and it often changes over time And there is a significant proportion of kids who at one time will feel gender
00:25:54dysphoric But then later on will not feel gender dysphoric It'll go away on its own And how significant that percentage is a matter of incredibly heated debate Thiss phenomenons noticed assistance for a long time Everyone said eighty percent of Well not everyone but scientists had eighty percent of
00:26:12transgender Just four kids will desist I think that's probably an overestimate But if you look at the studies very closely it's clear that it's not at all unusual for generous for it to go away on its own And every time I've really done in depth reporting on the
00:26:27subject it has been exceptionally easy to find young people who desist it Ah and that like if you had to sum all this chaos and all this controversy in the one concept is desist in CE Because if if we didn't have evidence that generous for often goes away
00:26:43on its own I don't think there'll be much to debate We were just transition kids very young and and that would be that I wonder that I that what what would you say to people who respond to that by saying Well when we're focusing on a desist in
00:27:04CE so much we're continuing to prioritize dis gendered people over trends gendered people Because we're kind of looking at a situation in which the possibility that somebody could be mistaken is it's so awful There's so much worse than the possibility off somebody not being somebody who is trans
00:27:31not being believed on that This was an argument that I think there's a union Jones made to me on Twitter saying Well why why wouldn't we just say Yes some people can Some kids can be wrong They can take responsibility for that wise the onus on trans kids
00:27:47to suffer not get treatment in time for them Tio tohave the full benefits off it just in case a CIS gendered person has made a mistake Did you do what would you answer that I think's in It does some good work on this but I think framing it
00:28:06that way is a little bit of a false choice because well first of all there's social transition which doesn't involve any you know medical intervention And then there's There's puberty blockers which can start as early as you know they could be ten or eleven and you take puberty
00:28:20blockers and then usually you go on to take cross sex hormone So the developmental stage of child is That makes a big difference here But I guess I would say you don't You don't have to choose between Wedding and kids suffer are being sure about the outcome There
00:28:40basically need a lot more gender therapist And what gender therapists do is they take kids through this process of exploring who they are and and figuring out you know how set their identity is how deep seated it is And and the most well no model for this is
00:28:54the so called Dutch clinic in Amsterdam where they they didn't rush kids to transition They also didn't prevent kids from transition They were They went through a process of let's figure out who you are Most importantly let's figure out where the stress is coming from and I talked
00:29:09to some incredibly talented therapist So I quoted particularly one psychologist one psychiatrist who these are these are not people are want kids to suffer there People who understand that gender identity and I did need General are extremely complicated So what surprised me was their view was not I
00:29:29have this kid in front of me a tar first appointment We've got to figure out if they're Sister Trans Their view was like Let's slow it down Let's talk to you about what is causing you distress and let's address what is distressing you the It wasn't as though
00:29:43the focus was instantly on gender identity It's I think it's a much more when it's done well Gender therapy is a much more complicated and sometimes gradual process and people make it out to be When we talk about this we have so much focus on that outcome of
00:29:59of what identity are you Who are you Are you a boy or a girl Competent gender therapy isn't done that way It's just it's just much more gradual And you know these kids talk about everything from trauma they've endured to gender roles sort of forced it upon them
00:30:14and sometimes in the course of going through a little bit of therapy their views on gender shame So all these therapists are trying to do is make sure that if they are at a point of undergoing permanent medical procedures that they're ready for it and that and that
00:30:28they're sure they want to go through with it People overstate the percentage of claims of situations where if a kid doesn't get hormones right now they're at imminent risk of harm Those situations exists but the median cases a lot more complicated than that I want to ask I
00:30:46want to ask Jesse by the medical effects off puberty blockers So are those effects permanent And if not why don't we just delay everybody's puberty Because frankly I think he'll be much better if everybody went through puberty It h twenty when we're all not more mature Enable Teo
00:31:07sexuality So Oh I actually did go through puberty at age twenty but that's not true I'm still going through puberty Puberty blockers If you'd asked me this four months ago I could have told you exactly how long you can stay on their most kids consent and without harm
00:31:27you can't be on them for that alarm Long it does cause osteoporosis is one of the side effects like it effects your bones basically it might affect other stuff and there's developmental considerations to because your classmates and your peers are non puberty blockers So you don't want a
00:31:42kid sort of stuck in in a form of suspended animation So I think puberty blockers are one of those things where some parent groups online that are skeptical child transition overstate the dangers of puberty blockers But I also think some Kranz activists understate you know this is a
00:32:04pretty big decision to delay puberty You are You are interfering with the natural bodily process So I guess what I just keep coming back to is these kids should be thoroughly assessed and should have a confident gender clinician who's actually well versed in the research helping them make
00:32:17that decision I don't think kids who are severely this farce should have to go through NATO puberty I I believe trans people when they say that's it incredibly harmful and causes a lot of English But it's really because of a very great deal of anguish anyway Course yeah
00:32:35you know for many people so I concert We imagine that So I continue carrying you know Yeah I think I might have ramble just because it's a complicated subject but was sorry What was the exact question about puberty Blockers Just side effects Well let's say let's say yes
00:32:52Let's say for example that I'm a kid who um and I believe that I'm trans and I go on puberty Blockers are to stop my puberty from happening Andi Then I changed my mind What happens then Is there any permanent damage done to me I think if I
00:33:12change my mind at that stage I think as long as you have competent care and you're being monitored by an endocrinologist and everything I don't I think once you go off the blockers your normal puberty will kick in normally that that's what we're told And that's what the
00:33:24evidence we have suggests that would you know it's not a nothing medical procedure but it but it is reversible And I people shouldn't overstate the harms But people also shouldn't It's a tool that shouldn't be used lightly But yeah the short answer is most kids go on puberty
00:33:40blockers do not Most kids go on puberty Blockers do go on to cross sex hormones based on the data we have the ones who don't In theory they're normal Puberty should kick in and I'll just go through it a little bit later than most other kids Hey that's
00:33:57interesting Um it seems it seems like a lot of this comes on down to the need to get rid of simplistic ideas that sort of ideologically rooted him in which we either favor dysphoric children who later desist or be favor trans children on DH and whether we well
00:34:27what what were accepted I think what we're seeing over and over again that that people are too quick to to seize upon a narrative to collect a whole number of arguments and points for their side and then just sort of throw them at each other without without without
00:34:44any any ability really to to meet in the middle to compare premises to understand that with generally coming from a point off wanting to do the best thing for for trans people and and for those who are suffering dysphoria for some other reason Yeah well I think I
00:35:07think that's exactly the extent to which this conversation among left of center people who generally agree it is taken on the Xin where everything is black and white It's either or even subjects like assistance and D transition just they get really quickly politicized to the point where either
00:35:27your quote unquote floor quote unquote against trans people or trans kids when over and over in in hours and hours spent talking to clinicians they're able to juggle a lot of different thoughts At the same time Like every clinician every confident clinician nosed assistants sometimes happens and every
00:35:45competent clinician knows that it's possible someone will transition and regret it And they're able tio I mean that's that's what medical decision making is That's what bioethics is It's weighing different concerns and just trying to maximize the best possible outcomes And I think the most important idea I
00:36:00heard over and over talking clinicians was they try Tio urge their clients not to engage in what they call rigid thinking And especially in young kids rigid thinking could be as little as simple as you know I can't be a boy with long hair or I can't be
00:36:16a girl who who likes to play sports I don't I don't want to caricature but with really young kids Sometimes they need to do very basic work of explaining to them socialized gender mores and rolls and the idea that that stuff couldn't interfere with the kids Burgeoning sense
00:36:33of gender identity A silly of course it could We all have tremendous pressure put on us to perform gender and to be a quote unquote real man or woman and you have the rigid thinking that it's all biological or it's all social or it's all contagion It's just
00:36:47the more you learn about this stuff the more you realize how complicated it is Well so would you And a lot of one of the things we see a lot at the moment is a claim that a CZ soon as a child or young person says that they
00:37:04feel they might be trans There's a great pressure from from clinicians to a firmness and a pressure on parents to affirm this that do Do you think that's overstated that that the majority off conditions in the area are still doing very sort of balanced individual centered work I
00:37:26think it's complicated Att This point I've been leaked a lot of threads from these closed parenting With Pipo I apologize for the grandfather clock Let's give it a sec just so we can Oh yeah it's kind of pretty though It's Big Ben there's nothing more Anglophile than a
00:37:49Parsi household Bob Yes you'd started It's complicated as I'm chime my Himes because it's nine PM Okay we'll just let it do its thing that they're okay okay And we'll just weaken added it so it sounds like an answer directly but I think it's really exciting We'll add
00:38:15some charm exactly a little bit of really Here's what it's really like to record a podcast I think it's an overstatement to just even here I wouldn't want to make sort of a rigid black or white statement of kids are aren't getting rushed in the transition I will
00:38:30say anecdotally in from my reporting there are a lot of parenting groups If you go online to sort of groups of parents of transgender questioning kids and you mentioned your kid has some gender dysphoria it's more likely than not you'll be you'll be routed to toward transition rather
00:38:48than just taking a deep breath and helping your kid explore And the concept of suicide comes up almost immediately A lot of the time as though the moment your five year old questions their gender you need a transition them or they'll kill themselves which is just as one
00:39:04of my clinicians said It's just it's not a good way to enter a period of exploration Obviously if your kid really is suicidal that's one thing But the idea that is just immediate transition or death A I think a lot of parents get that in their head and
00:39:16they're not helpful And on the on the clinician side there is there's no You can't exaggerate the difference between supply and demand here I think there's a huge number of people hanging out shingles as gender clinicians who have no idea what they're doing and I just again This
00:39:34is mostly anecdotal but there's so many stories of just incompetent clinical care and parts of the country where there are no gender Clinicians and general clinicians were being taught this really simple sort of gender bred person model where everyone has a gender identity just stuck in the brain
00:39:50in eight from birth which I think really understates the complexity of all this again Put you So what I'm I'm also slightly confused by gender non conforming non binary identities Yeah sorry I'm a boomer You know people have to bear with it It's there I mean can you
00:40:16say something about sure at where that shit's Yes sorry No I'm ever Gender non by an area just means someone who doesn't feel male or female and in some cases that's because of gender dysphoria In some cases if you read accounts of gender non binary people it's out
00:40:36in their own words They seem to be saying it It's a little bit political like it's It's a rejection of gender roles and gender norms Whereas I think most trans people transition It's not about gender roles or Norm's It's a really deep part of who they are gender
00:40:50dysphoria So part of the reason it's tough to define is that right now the language is so broad and rapidly changing that that people can come out is non binary and be accepted is that for a variety of different reasons and you know often they'll ask to be
00:41:04referred to as they pronounce rather than hear she But at root it just means someone who feels themselves to not be male or female or not fully male or fully female On a criticism of that is is often that you know a majority of people feel as kind
00:41:24of displaced within sort of social ideas of of gender So I think it was just it was just saying it that we'd really do see quite a lot of on political statements of I am I am non binary as well as well as this sort of strong feeling
00:41:43of them of gender Andi I wondered I understand that quite often autistic people are more likely to have this sense of of not sitting with an agenda Well with which do you know much about about that I understand that the sort of ideas that the science on them
00:42:08on brain structure and brain function and its relation to the gender is growing quite quite quickly But it is still quite confusing Is that Yeah I'm I'm not up on sort of the latest and greatest research There's been a correlation between genders for Ah ah and ah autism
00:42:27spectrum disorder forever and it's really well established It was fighting While I was reporting on this eh A young scholar published an article trying to argue that there wasn't in fact a correlation And behind the scenes there are a lot of sort of older respected gender clinicians like
00:42:42who are pissed off about it because they don't There's just there's a little bit of an activist push to decouple the to to say there isn't ah correlation between generous flora and an autism But it's just very well established at this point that any sample you take of
00:42:59generous for kids more of them than you would expect are on the spectrum more of them than you would expect by chance alone or on the spectrum And you know the reasons for that I think we're really not sure I think there's some theories but those two are
00:43:11incredibly controversial It does seem strange that when trans activist who want trans identity to be accepted that seem to push against quite a lot of the of the science which shows with which is increasingly showing yes there's something we can see here There's a biological basis for trans
00:43:33identity here were not entirely clear on it There is some contradiction but that when people ho want trans identity to be accepted as a riel thing as an inherent biological thing then push against science which seems to support their case I find it difficult to understand the motivation
00:43:57Okay I might disagree with you on that because I think maybe a few trans activists have push push against the autism link But if anything I see the opposite Where whenever there's a study that seems to show evidence of a quote unquote trans brain I actually think those
00:44:13studies are are celebrated and embraced even when they I think there really early and no one's come close to showing a quote unquote trans brain But I think what people fail to realize is you can like Let's say there is something called the Trans Brain You could use
00:44:30that to oppress trans people You could say Oh we need a breed it out We needed monitor kids for the Trans brain We need to abort them You could think of all sorts of you know horrible things you could do with that information By that same token if
00:44:43there's no biological footprint if it's all something about their upbringing or something about socialization you could You could also do horrible things to trans people You could say we need to prevent moms from raising their boys into gentle away or whatever the theory used to be I just
00:44:57think people act like there's a one to one correlation between scientific findings and moral and political outcomes and they're just they're just isn't like if if people who hate trans people are driven by disgust and fear I think ah oh are sort of an inability to deal with
00:45:11ambiguity and and whatever stories they can use to justify their feelings They'll will pick and choose like it's a buffet It's not It's not one you want is my argument Mmm Can you tell us Jesse I do want to go on to talking a little bit about other
00:45:33um questionable sociology as he described it which is the topic of your book But I wanted to just talk a little bit about your own Ways in which you've fallen foul of certain trans activists Um you don't have to name anybody but I want to know what their
00:45:56quarrel is with you as far as you can tell on DH Ah yeah Can you say little But because you've become somewhat of a controversial figure Andi I'd like you to have a chance to put your case Sure Yeah I mean that room when I wrote this story
00:46:17about ten Zucker there Ah Dr got fired and his clinic shut down I was viewed as quote unquote defending conversion therapy So many rumors had been spread about Zucker and his clinic and it was established as a quote unquote fact that they did conversion therapy But I I
00:46:38what I found did not suggest that that was true I even despite heavy it at the time a good relationship with the activist who helped shut down the clinic They couldn't put me in touch with a single person who had actually gone through conversion therapy there And it
00:46:52was being claimed that he had done this to a huge number of kids and he had done tremendous harm And it just came down to as a journalist Like where What are my obligations and I No one who reads my story would would be left in the dark
00:47:06about what the activists in Toronto accused him of doing But at a certain point I either I find evidence of it or I don't And what I found a lot of evidence was well that was that the process was flawed So I think that was the first time
00:47:20I became a somewhat controversial figure among some people Is they saw me as as defending conversion therapy when in fact I'm against conversion therapy because I think it's both morally outrageous and practically speaking to be sort of crude about It's like it's not gonna work anyway You're not
00:47:36goingto convert a kid out of being Trans that that isn't how any of this work So yeah that was That was the sort of first thing And then more recently with the Atlantic story I think there was a sense that I are We shown to brightest spotlight on
00:47:52D transitions into sisters when there's still a lot of people who don't have access to to transition Resource is And you know we mentioned that explicitly in the piece There's huge numbers of trans people who don't have access to hormones don't have access to surgery don't even have
00:48:06access to basic mental health services But I think the idea was especially in light of my prior research on sucker and the idea that I had already quote unquote defended conversion therapy Why is the Atlantic giving a cover story You notice someone who in their mind have questioned
00:48:22views on this stuff So if you were Teo and I have a feeling I already know what you're going to say If you have a new appeal to everybody who is trying to talk about about the rights and dignity and acceptance of transgender people what what would it
00:48:41be Embrace the complexity and understand that if there's certain subjects that if we don't understand them better now and don't look into them now including assistance in the transition if we don't better understand why some people insist on why some people the transition that could be a ticking
00:48:57time bomb down the road ten years from now do you want a world in which there's lawsuits in which there's quacks running around harming gender nonconforming people I just think we need to steadily advance the science as compassionately as we can and stop acting like There's only one
00:49:13story here where someone was born trans and transitions and lives happily ever after because that does happen But there's a huge number of people who are just taken more complicated Pathan that that's brilliant I couldn't agree more Oh wait I think we sort of come a bit too
00:49:34A kind of natural end anywhere But was there anything you want to ask You see that Is this army Yes I like you I don't know how much time you still have Jesse if you have a bit more time I'm about to talk to you right Yeah I'd
00:49:48like to talk about so Jesse I believe you're writing a book about the replication crisis in sociology Is that clear Sorry It's more about psychology and particularly social psychology Just I think sociology comes up once or twice in the book but it's way more about behavioral science Okay
00:50:13Can you tell us Tell us about your book Yeah So Ah is tentatively titled The Quick Fix And my book is a look at instances in which we take really complicated situations and come up with sort of pithy catchy sexy solutions to them Often solutions that are sort
00:50:34of propagated via Ted talks and ideas festivals and things like that So look you know one that I've already written a fair amount about is the implicit association test or the idea that you can sit down sit down and take a ten minute test on Harvard University's website
00:50:49and it will reveal your your hidden racial bias And this this test has absolutely exploded And it's been you know posited as a way to really help solve a lot of racial problems in the U S And there's very little evidence It predicts anything And so the book
00:51:03is sort of about instances like that where ideas that aren't quite ready for prime time or which don't have tremendous evidence behind them blow up more than they should and end up in some cases sucking all the oxygen out of the room And yeah those air those air
00:51:17the basics It's been very fun too right so far Can you can you tell us that some of those or will that be too much of a spoiler No I mean so one of them is the implicit association Just one of them is ah power posing the idea
00:51:29that if you sort of spread your arms wise and adopted aggressive pose you'll do better in negotiations and giving speeches and stuff like that same thing There's a lot of attention given to it but very little evidence that actually works another one that is a little bit more
00:51:46complicated But is the notion of grit that you contest The kids sort of stick to itiveness and how likely they are to stick with difficult challenges that that's a useful psychological instrument and that you could increase their level of grit And so to me grit is an example
00:52:03of how you take a really complicated situation which is educational inequality in America and you reduce it to this one Construct grit and you act as though it's just a matter of kids not having enough grid And if we could teach kids more grit that would improve outcomes
00:52:17And it's such a inspiring compelling story And yet there's there's way less evidence to support that one might think Is that related to the marshmallow test Yeah and it's yes It's often their talks about in the same They're very similar concepts and the marshmallow test recently more or
00:52:37less failed to replicate its A another fairly overhyped idea So just just summarized the marshmallow test in case anybody doesn't know what it is And there's a quick reminder A psychologist I think Stanford name Stanley Mitchell It's a wonderfully interesting and evocative and elegant experiment He had a
00:52:58bunch of kids come into a lab I'm sure I'm going to AA blunder here and not tell it completely accurately But basically he put a marshmallow in front of a kid and say You can either have this one marshmallow now or you can hold off for five or
00:53:12ten minutes and if you wait and don't eat this one marshal I'll give you two marshmallows So it's an instance of ah delayed gratification And what they claim to have found is that kids who are able to delay gratification and wait for the two marshmallows did better later
00:53:29in life on a variety of fronts My understanding of why it may be failed to replicate or the effect was later shown to not be that strong is that there was what we call a range restriction issue I believe all the kids who took the marshmallow tests We're
00:53:43the kids of Ivy League professors So this was already a very smart and privileged group It wasn't sort of some random sample of American kids but you know people This was such a powerful story about the importance of you know delayed gratification of having self control and waiting
00:54:02for bigger rewards later on that the marshmallow test became sort of ah ah three words symbol of a lot of quote unquote American values And a lot of these experiments that seemed to sum up something important about human nature spread far and wide even when there's underlying problems
00:54:18with them or with their over interpretation Yes I saw mean when Trump was elected I think it was in the New York I think it might be in the New Yorker cartoon where somebody was holding I two marshmallow to Trump And he said You can have You can
00:54:36have one marshmallow now um or you can wait for you can have one marshmallow now or have what was it Or you can wait for ten minutes have two marshmallows and be sworn in as U S president And you see I'm sort of looking trying to decide which
00:55:01way to go right That's funny Yeah I think I mean I feel like there are lots of these kind of pop psychology ideas I was always I was very skeptical of thie Amy Cuddy idea when I actually saw her Ted talk If you've watched her talking she's a
00:55:19very nervous speaker She swallows she has dry throat She stands herself kind of hunched a nervous on DH I'm very you know never trust a naked man who is selling your T shirt If it were if it were such a great theory it would work for her too
00:55:38Although maybe she would be even more nervous if she didn't power pose before up before her talks Um So do you think that there are the other some fixes that have proven to be helpful and useful I think it's tricky I think basically any Any idea that is
00:56:08going to solve a real world problem is probably gonna have to have some complexity to it There's a I wrote about this anti bullying intervention that actually won won its creator MacArthur Grant That involves mapping a school social network figuring out who the most connected kids are Figure
00:56:27out who the kids are who talked to the most other kids And rather than piling all the kids into an auditorium to give them a their million lecture about how bullying is bad this intervention simply takes The most connected kids in the school has a meet with a
00:56:40couple adults they look we're trying to tamp down on bullying We want you to be sort of a model of how to step in and prevent bullying when you see it Kerr and this intervention just It relies on a lot of fairly sophisticated ideas from social psychology about
00:56:55where we take our behavioral cues like how we decide how to act and what sort of behavior is unacceptable And it's as you can tell from my not amazing description it's hard to sum up in a sentence or two It wouldn't necessarily be good fodder for a time
00:57:09talk but that's this is the sort of intervention that has been shown so far to work I mean you can always learn more and learned that there's limitations or doesn't work as well as you'd expect But they did a big pilot study in New Jersey in a bunch
00:57:23of schools and it appeared to work really well on the professor Created is Betsy Levi Pollack and her work is very much worth looking up But I'm yeah The cultural side withdraws that I can't somebody up in a sentence I could sum up power posing or the tea
00:57:37in a sentence but to me effective interventions are a lot more complicated I think that that's the key word people It is a lot more complicated Yeah I find always when I've read what I've read Self help books which claim to give you a quick fix of some
00:58:01kind that I always feel very convinced what I'm reading the book And then a week later I can't even remember what was in the book let alone being able to incorporate in some effective way I think the only exception has been Daniel Evidence Book The organized mind that
00:58:20was the only one which stayed with me His idea that off eun attacks unit asking that US always unit task are never multi task Always give your full attention to one job at his time I think that is the one piece of kind of quick fix advice It
00:58:39actually worked for me I like that I have trouble with that That in the coffee nap The cost of that silence unless covered that when I was in editing that coffee now Well please don't tell me it was debunked a cz faras I said I don't want that
00:59:03As far as you're aware it has not been debunked Please tell me that because I don't want to lose a But if that's how things that have been the way of the coffee Now now So you're you should keep coffee napping Okay So on that note Jesse can
00:59:23you tell us Thank you so much for coming And for talking to us Um yeah thank you very much That that's been very very interesting Yeah they're no thank you guys And look there are This is a very quote unquote social justice warrior thing to say but there
00:59:42are a lot of really There are a lot of really smart and thoughtful trans commentators on this stuff The conversation as it occurs online gets dumbed down But at some point you guys should There's people you should have on and because they might disagree with me on this
00:59:55stuff and they you know a lot of them Obviously they should have a voice to say It might be an interesting conversation at some point Shit Absolutely Could Could you name some of those people for our listeners if they are to go and investigate Yeah I do Think
01:00:11I just said she just got mad at me online about It's a long story but I do think that winner Contra Points has done really thoughtful stuff on a lot of these subjects And and I've learned a lot from her and you know people like Natalie Reed shed
01:00:27an old log on free thoughts Yeah not only read is really good even though again there's so many people who do really good stuff But I get in dumb fights with On Twitter Maybe maybe that says more about me than them But oh are generally new to these
01:00:42issues in one eh A smart thoughtful perspective Contra points Natalie When that's are those the same people Contra Points is their YouTube channel I did a profile for that You can also read but she's a good person to start with She would also be should be a good
01:00:56guest for you guys I think just a good starting point I would say Yeah I don't think would like us but we could try but her I will I will reach her And she has in the past put her money where her mouth is and debated people she
01:01:12doesn't disagree agree with on everything And she would probably challenge you guys or challenge me usefully up some stuff we say so it's worth a shot Maybe maybe she's wondered at this point I would I would agree that I really enjoy her radio The video's particularly that less
01:01:31her other political commentary But I do really enjoy her videos that are about transitioning and trans identity side absolutely recommend that I think she's really good on online white nationalism and certain forms of all right I think she's good at sort of carefully breaking down Why I like
01:01:48the idea that there's such a thing as sort of a unified European identity when in fact it's just mishmash of who invaded who in the battle of whatever In twelve fifteen like I feel like when I watched your videos even on suffer I'm already decided I do learn
01:02:02stuff For what it's worth Yes yes I know the guy I showed him more attention since hasn't watched very many a near couples No they're very fun Aunt Jessie Working people find you usually people who are not on Twitter Where can they find influential But I was going
01:02:26to Twitter but also I I wrote Modi right most often for New York magazine If you google my name and the Atlantic Trans kids you'll you'll find both my Atlantic cover story and ah several reaction pieces to it Yeah I've also I Yes it's called It's called When
01:02:45children say They're John sits here That's when such children say they're yes when children say they're trans That's Jessie's article in the Atlantic And if you just google my name in New York magazine you'll find I've written a lot of stuff and obviously curious to hear from Ah
01:03:05yeah anyone whether they agree or disagree some anymore Great You've been listening T Become hard cast for Dario Magazine Area is a non partisan political and cultural digital magazine with a universal liberal humanist slant edited by Helen Park Rose with the assistance of Sub editor Yours truly at
01:03:32area we hope to counter the current atmosphere friends of partisanship and hysteria with calm well reasoned articles and civil discussions Both Dario and Two for tea are entirely audience supported You are readers and listeners make these conversations possible You can support the magazine the podcast or both On
01:03:55Patron Look for Ari O A R E O A For Apple offer Robert either Edward over Orange and two for tea All patrons will get access to free monthly patron only podcasts and other perks Plus by becoming of Patron you will keep these platforms alive and flourishing Two
01:04:18thirty is available on iTunes Soundcloud Stitcher and all other podcast subscription sites If you're listening on the podcast take a moment to hit that subscriber button Give us a rating writers A brief review even just a couple of words Spread the news Thank you so much for listening
01:04:38Have a wonderful week

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.


Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.