It seems the battle about the rights and privileges of transgender Americans has come down to what other people are allowed to say about them. The controversy over Abigail Shrier’s book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” demonstrates how far this battle has come.
Shrier’s book, which explores the phenomenon of many teenage girls suddenly and impulsively insisting they are now boys and how this affects their families and futures, has come under fire from transgender activists. Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted, “Abigail Shrier’s book is a dangerous polemic with a goal of making people not trans. I think of all the times & ways I was told my transness wasn’t real & the daily toll that still takes. We have to fight these ideas which are leading to the criminalization of trans life again.”
Several anonymous transgender Twitter users also expressed this belief and reached out to Target, demanding the retailer remove the book from its shelves. Target promptly did. After a heavy backlash that sent Shrier’s book into the best-seller category on Amazon, including No. 15 in all books, Target reversed its decision, also quietly doing the same for its removal of Debra Soh’s “The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society.”
“I dream of and fight for a world where Abigail’s book isn’t the #1 seller on Amazon under ‘LGBT,’” Strangio lamented in response, “Where there is no market for ideas fueled by fear of our existence and the possibilities we make possible in the world.”
Tucker Carlson highlighted one of Strangio’s recent tweets, which said, “Also stopping the circulation of this book and these ideas is 100% a hill I will die on.” Strangio later complained it was meant to be a joke and deleted the tweet, but what else would an objective observer walk away with after a lawyer for the ACLU declared a book dangerous, fueled by “fear of our existence,” and articulated a belief in wanting such books to have no market at all?
Strangio tweeted, “What these people are doing to me is going to put me in danger. They think its [sic] all fun and games but have no idea what its like to actually be trans in the world they are creating.”
Strangio might fit the traditional understanding of gender dysphoria, a persistent and distressing discomfort in one’s biological sex from childhood forward, but what Shrier explores in her book are stories of young girls who suddenly and in groups of friends announce their new trans identity and begin pursuing permanent physical changes without parental knowledge or consent.
Shrier did not write a “dangerous polemic” criticizing or dismissing transgender identity. She wrote a book on the effects of a social contagion and how it has destroyed the lives of young women and their families, explaining how LGBT and transgender activists silence any discussion of this.
It seems the core of Strangio’s complaint is viewing personal experiences through the perspective of how others view him. Using fear and urgency, Strangio positions transgender people’s lives as though they hang in the balance of how other people think about transgender issues and the negative influence Shrier’s book could have on them.
Strangio was born female and transitioned, adopted a new name and a new legal gender, pursued a legal career, and achieved a successful position fighting for Strangio’s beliefs for the largest civil rights group in America. Yet as Shrier points out in the Carlson interview, we’re supposed to believe Shrier’s one single book, the only one in existence on this specific subject, personally threatens Strangio’s “transness”?
A movement that can marginalize and silence viewpoints it finds threatening is not a victimized group. More to the point, what Strangio is effectively arguing here is that the personal identities of all transgender people cease to exist when directly observed without a lens of gender-affirmative theory.
In “Irreversible Damage,” Shrier speaks with transgender people, their families, both conservatives and progressives, and medical professionals, and comes away with a clear understanding of what gender dysphoria is and what it is not. For a movement that struggles to define itself and its wants, this book is a positive development.
This debacle is profoundly disturbing and frustrating. The passion of a person’s insecurities should not dictate what other people read and share. Activists must stop constantly portraying themselves and thus the transgender movement as mentally fragile and emotionally unstable.
Whether Strangio and other LGBT activists like it, a huge market for critical thinking and honest discussions surrounds these issues. Meanwhile, they continue bullying businesses into removing content through fear tactics and threats of persecution rather than by countering the message with their own better one.