Jesse Singal is well worth following for both his sensible reporting and his fierce tenacity in investigating like the effects of hormone blockers and, in this case, ridiculous criticisms of the New York Times by congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and lawyer Chase Strangio, Deputy Director for Transgender Justice and staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
We’ve met both of these people before: Tlaib as a member of the “progressive” Squad of congresswomen whose extreme Leftist politics are not only anti-Semitic, but also a source of votes for Republicans. Strangio, who’s in principle engaged in good work (defending the rights of LGBTQ+ people), keeps shooting himself in the foot with ludicrous assertions, like calling for the banning of Abigal Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage. (He claimed the book was transphobic; it is not. I read it, and it’s an analysis of why so many kids are identifying as transgender, some as a way of gathering admiration, and how some are rushed by well-meaning adults into transitions that they may regret.)
Both Strangio and Tlaib tend to be hotheads who shoot from the hip, and that’s what we see in their recent attacks on the New York Times, as chronicled in this Substack post by Jesse Singal. While I’ve criticized the NYT, I actually applauded the two pieces they’re attacking.
Click on the link to read for free, but subscribe if you read Singal often and want to support his writing.
Here’s the skinny. The New York Times recently published two articles on the trans movement and its fallout. One of them “The battle over gender therapy“, was by Emily Bazelon, and was a long and really good analysis of the differences among experts in how to treat young people with gender dysphoria. I wrote about it briefly and then showed a sour tweet by—who else?—Chase Strangio (below).
What I said in a Hili news report:
A couple of days ago NYT staff writer Emily Bazelon produced a really good piece on “The battle over gender therapy,” detailing all the fighting about puberty blockers, “gender affirming therapy”, and so on. Because she didn’t hew absolutely to the trans-activist line, but actually gave arguments from both sides, the activists are ripping her apart (look at the comment below by the odious Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s chief lawyer for gender affairs. I suggest you read Bazelon’s long article for yourself.
The tweet is from Josh Szeps, who works for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Because it doesn’t mindlessly recite every catechism of the gender cult, cultists are angry. Good.
I just wish more journalists weren’t cowed by bullies. https://t.co/SURf6vYzSY
— 𝕁𝕠𝕤𝕙 𝕊𝕫𝕖𝕡𝕤 (@joshzepps) June 18, 2022
That was the beginning of Strangio’s bizarre attack on the NYT, which he despises, as he despises Abigail Shrier, for writing about both sides of the sex-transition issue.
The other NYT article was by Pamela Paul. You probably remember her July 3 piece, “The Far Right and the Far Left agree on one thing: women don’t count.“, which criticize the erasure of the word “woman”, which she considered emblematic of the erasure of biological women as a class. I praised the article here, though Singal says that Paul overstepped a bit by equating Right and Left when the latter group is at least promoting reproductive rights of women. Nevertheless, Paul’s piece, like Bazelon’s was not transphobic; it just refused to buy into some extreme transphobic claims. Here’s a sentence from Paul’s piece:
Tolerance for one group need not mean intolerance for another. We can respect transgender women without castigating females who point out that biological women still constitute a category of their own — with their own specific needs and prerogatives
Them’s fighting words to someone like Stangio! For people like Stangio, and now Tlaib, don’t want discussion. The minute someone points out problems with their arguments, or distortions of the facts, or data that contradicts their claims they blow up, which doesn’t help their reputations—including that of the ACLU.
Now, in the face of what Singal calls “Texas’s horrific attempts to separate trans kids from their parents,” both Bazelon and Paul have taken blame from Tlaib and Strangio. And indeed, Texas’s new policy of asking people to report children receiving “affirmative care” to child welfare agencies as possible cases of child abuse is a ridiculous and anti-humanist policy.
What do Bazelon and Paul have to do with this policy? Nothing except that, in court briefs supporting this odious policy in a lawsuit, the state of Texas introduced their NYT articles (and other articles in the paper) as “supporting evidence”, along with other articles that are neutral or innocuous, but may underscore differences in opinion about how to treat kids with gender dysphoria (Singal’s piece shows nine such articles, including the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care.)
And so Strangio blew an artery and released the following tweet. The good part is that Strangio and the ACLU are trying to derail the new Texas policy. The bad part is that Strangio blames the New York Times, saying there’s “direct line from multiple NYTs articles to Texas policy”. That’s a false and stupid claim:
I am flying to Texas today. To try to stop Texas from criminalizing parents of trans youth. The state will defend this horrific policy by introducing evidence – which includes multiple NYTs articles. There is a direct line from the discourse to these policies. https://t.co/a9rtkfiMFz
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) July 5, 2022
Tlaib also went after the NYT for “providing a platform for transphobic hate and propaganda”, and for “debating whether trans people should even exist” as well as “scapegoating” them. But if you actually read Bazelon’s or Paul’s pieces, you won’t find any discussion of whether trans people should exist. In both cases, trans prople are not denigrated as a class, but some of their supporters’ arguments are debated in Bazelon’s piece and criticized in Paul’s.
This is characteristic of extreme trans advocates. Any suggestion of a debate, any questioning of their claims, automatically labels the questioner as a transphobe who is trying to do away with trans people. This kind of extreme petulant behavior, in a person, would be a sign of borderline personality disorder.
Here’s Tlaib’s tantrum:
During escalating assaults on trans people & trans rights nationwide, the New York Times is featuring writers debating whether trans people should even exist and scapegoating this already-marginalized community. One way to act in solidarity is to sign now: https://t.co/xIeaBGIhlj
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) July 11, 2022
At least Strangio’s mission is admirable, and he’s doing some good work to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people. He just needs to learn to stop accusing debaters and critics of “transphobia” as an ad hominem way to dismiss their claims.
Tlaib has no such excuse, as she’s merely virtue signaling—and using Strangio and the NYT as a way to raise money for her campaign. In the second tweet above, the petition Tlaib gives links to her campaign page, and, as Singal says (here’s the CNN link):
As CNN indicated, I bet anyone who signs her pointless petition (email and zip code required) will get a fundraising appeal and/or have their info shared with other progressive organizations hungry for data.
One more thing. As I said, one of Singal’s admirable characteristics is that he’s a journalistic bloodhound, sniffing out every clue he can. So he asked Strangio to defend his attacks on the NYT:
On Twitter, I pressed Strangio on all this: I pointed out that neither Bazelon’s article’s appearance on the evidence list, nor Cantor’s reference of it in his declaration, constituted evidence she (or the Times) had done anything wrong. I asked for more specific evidence to support the idea that the paper had done anything morally or journalistically questionable enough to warrant all this outrage.
Strangio didn’t have anything. Instead, he said I should fly to Texas to witness the hearings in person or order transcripts.
Here are a few tweets from the Singal/Strangio exchange:
Singal summarizes the “debate” with Strangio and Tlaib, and I find this precis pretty funny (though true):
Chase Strangio: The Times is partly responsible for Texas’s horrible policy on trans youth!
Rashida Tlaib: As Chase says, the Times is partly responsible for Texas’s horrible policy on trans youth! Sign my petition!
Me: The documents you’re citing don’t seem to justify this claim at all. Do you have any other evidence?
Strangio: It’s not my job to get that for you.
As the kids online say, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
As Singal notes, this is a “ridiculous waste of time” and a “shameless attention- and money-grab” (the latter by Tlaib). And as I noted, Strangio needs to dial back his rhetoric, which only hurts his cause (insulting the NYT doesn’t help either) as well as the ACLU. As for Tlaib, I’m hoping—but not expecting—that she’ll be voted out of Congress.