August 29, 2018

MAYBE NOT ALL TRANSGENDERS ARE BORN THAT WAY?—Yesterday I posted about Lisa Littman, the Brown University researcher who wrote about “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.”  In her study, she asked questions of the parents of teens and young adults who suddenly, after no previous history, identified as transgender.  About 21% of those parents reported that their children had one or more friends who came out as transgender at around the same time; 20% reported an increase in their child’s social media use around the same time; and 45% reported both. In addition, 62% reported their child had been diagnosed with one or more psychiatric disorders or neurodevelopmental disabilities before the transgender issue suddenly arose.

Transgender activists were apparently irate at the suggestion that maybe not all transgenders are “just born that way.”   (Note that Littman was writing about rapid-onset gender dysphoria only.)  Brown University, which had published a news note highlighting the study, caved in to pressure to withdraw the note and issued what was essentially an apology.

All this reminded me of when I drew the ire of transgender activists two years ago. You can read about that ridiculous moment here. I got all sorts of nasty emails and other messages for about a day and a half. One charmer, who claimed to be in San Diego, wrote, “Your days are numbered and we’re coming after you! UCSD will soon be free of your ignorant bigot ass!” (Of course, I don’t work for UCSD; I teach at USD, but whatever.) Another wrote, “Can’t wait for the shaming to begin, Gail. You will never be off the hook, you will always be shamed for being a racist ignorant bigot. Kill yourself now because these next years will be brutal. You will be fired professor [c-word].” And there were plenty more. (And this fuss was about some testimony I’d give that was generally supportive of the idea that one’s willingness to conform to conventional notions of masculinity or femininity is not the government’s business.  Mobs tend not to have read the things they claim set them off.)

One difference between my case and Littman’s is that, despite numerous calls for my firing, USD never did anything other than quietly support my academic freedom.  Here’s something that probably won’t be different for Littman:  By the second day, supportive messages from around the country started rolling in for me. The law school even got a lovely contribution from an alumnus. Pretty quickly those supportive messages vastly outnumbered the critical ones.   I suspect they will for Littman too.  Brown, on the other hand, will likely learn that not everyone thinks it covered itself in glory.

If you’ve a mind to, you can register your support for free inquiry (or your lack of support for a university that caves to howling mobs) by signing this petition.

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