A Congresswoman and an ACLU lawyer go after the New York Times for transphobia

July 14, 2022 • 9:30 am

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.

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:

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:

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:

And another:

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.

15 thoughts on “A Congresswoman and an ACLU lawyer go after the New York Times for transphobia

  1. I can’t stand the extreme right-wing but the extreme left with their trans crapola has lost me as well & I’ve always been a socialist! I have nothing against trans-people, I support civil rights for ALL people but if I don’t go along with the “transwomen are women” mantra because WTH, I AM a woman & there’s a reason that there’s the prefix “trans” affixed to the word “transwoman”. They are not the same as women who were born female. I don’t get why this is so contentious. & I don’t get why trans-people aren’t proud of their own identity & have to colonize the identities of other people. But saying this makes me (& other people) transphobic … which is also ridiculous, because the suffix “phobic” means fear & none of us fear trans-people at all. We just want a reality-based world.

  2. 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.

    To translate, Tlaib’s line about: “debating whether trans people should even exist …” is code for debating whether transwomen are indeed women. If you think that trans women are biological men, then — to the trans ideologues — that is not only “transphobic” in it’s own right, but amounts to saying that trans women “shouldn’t even exist”.

    Because trans women can only exist if everyone is continually chorusing “yes, you are a woman!”. If even one person dissents, that trans person immediately drops down dead. It’s as fatal to them as a child saying “I don’t believe in fairies” is to fairies, they just drop down dead. This is why refusing to chorus “trans women are women” is so hateful and (literally) violent.

  3. Jerry, I know you don’t generally like podcasts. But “Blocked & Reported” (with Katie Herzog) is excellent. The hosts call their topic “internet bullshit” but behind the banter and self-deprecation is a ton of great reporting and analysis. And not all of it is simply ridiculing woke online culture. Singal and Herzog really do think things through, and the two hosts often disagree with each other. Enlightening & entertaining. Plus Katie’s twitter handle is cat-themed. You might like it?

  4. I will admit that I have not read the Texas law, but I am in sympathy with the idea that a parent letting a kid get their breasts or genitals cut off is child abuse. The incessant clamor that trans people are being denied the right to exist or that discussion is murdering them is, as intended, stifling legitimate debate about the different aspects of the trans movement. You must accept it tout court.

    1. I noticed there was no anger that I could see from those same people about courts taking children away from parents who wouldn’t affirm their children’s desire to transition. I don’t think they’re trying to defend family integrity per se, but only the kind that supports children transitioning.

    2. To me, transitioning of children is one of the worst imaginable types of child abuse. However, the needed action is dismantling the system that does it rather than going after the parents who allow it to mutilate their children.

      1. That’s a pretty cold-hearted view that suggests you haven’t bothered to read the Bazelon article. Are you just trolling here?

  5. The modus operandi of woke theorists&activists is now well known:

    “As far as I can see, standard academic norms for the production of knowledge are not often observed in fields that deal with matters of sex and gender. The whole area has become unacceptably politicised. Particular articles and books are treated like sacred texts rather than the opinionated, potentially fallible or myopic arguments they actually are. As one trans author, Andrea Long Chu, puts it, the result is ‘warmed-over pieties’ and ‘something like church’. There are small things you may question or criticise, and then there are the fundamental orthodoxies it is considered transphobic to deny. Evidence or facts are considered relevant only when they help what is perceived to be the political cause of trans people. Any philosophical critiques that do sometimes (rarely) emerge – especially by non-trans academics – are regularly treated as equivalent to /actual attacks on trans people/ rather than as critiques of /views about/ trans people, or of /trans activist commitments/. It’s assumed these critiques are not worthy of rational engagement but should be met only with strong moral disapproval and suppression. This sort of judgement floats down from on high, via academic managers, journal editors and referees, to make sure that, on the ground, no dissenting voice gets into ‘the literature’ without a huge struggle. Even worse, it helps ensure that hardly any seriously dissenting voices get into the discipline areas in the first place.”

    (Stock, Kathleen. Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism. London: Fleet, 2021.)

  6. I got immediately and permanently banned from a subreddit yesterday for “hate speech” for saying basically that transwomen are not women.

    On one hand I really don’t care about being banned from a subreddit. On the other hand, they are quite successfully shutting down certain ideas from being expressed on all major online forums. I would mind very much if I got banned from Twitter, which is a definite possibility; it has happened to people for saying what I said. You can be truly hateful and even threatening on Twitter, but you risk being quickly silenced if you say that men cannot be women.

    I’ve never seen anything like the success they’re having at suppressing an idea from even being expressed. I think it’s quite frightening.

  7. Coincidentally, this pertinent link just popped up in my news feed. As I and others have had problems posting YouTube links here on WordPress, I will give the title of the video, too.
    Texas Targets Trans Youth, A Family Decides to Move

  8. The detestable Rashida Tlaib faces opposition in the Democratic primary for the new Michigan 12th district this August. Could her decision to join Chase Strangio in the NYT/Texas dispute be a sign of desperation about the upcoming primary contest?

    Alternatively, maybe it reflects a pact between them in which Tlaib signs on to the trans activist parade, while Strangio announces that they is a trans Palestinian. Come to think of it, why can’t the citizens of Israel claim that they are all trans Palestinians? During the British mandate, in fact, the Jews in the mandate territory were often called “Palestinians”, while the inhabitants whose language was Arabic were naturally referred to as “Arabs”.

  9. Science based medicine is at it again….


    “But, it is fair to say when it comes to reproduction, the system is binary, but sex is about more than reproduction……Sex, for example, is also about bonding, social relationships, power, and dominance. Think about this – what percentage of the time that humans have sex is the express purpose reproduction? How many people have no desire to ever have children, but still have an active sex life? Can there be romance without sex? Why are there so many aspects of sex that are not strictly reproductive?”

    Smart people saying stupid things!

  10. Why does Black Trans Liberation Kitchen sound like a scam to me. It would also make a great name for a band.

  11. Very helpful, informative article by Emily Bazelon. I have to assume that Rashida Tlaib simply didn’t want to read it.

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