When Harry Became Sally
The transgender movement has hit breakneck speed. In the space of a year, it's gone from something that most Americans had never heard of to a cause claiming the mantle of civil rights.But can a boy truly be "trapped" in a girl's body? Can modern medicine really "reassign" sex? Is sex something "assigned" in the first place? What's the loving response to a friend or child experiencing a gender-identity conflict? What should our law say on these issues?When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment provides thoughtful answers to all of these questions. Drawing on the best insights from biology, psychology, and philosophy, Ryan T. Anderson offers a balanced approach to the policy issues, a nuanced vision of human embodiment, and a sober and honest survey of the human costs of getting human nature wrong.He reveals a grim contrast between the media's sunny depiction and the often sad realities of gender-identity struggles. He introduces readers to people who tried to "transition" but found themselves no better off. Especially troubling is the suffering felt by adults who were encouraged to transition as children but later came to regret it.And there is a reason that many do regret it. As Anderson shows, the most helpful therapies focus not on achieving the impossible--changing bodies to conform to thoughts and feelings--but on helping people accept and even embrace the truth about their bodies and reality. This discussion will be of particular interest to parents who fear how an ideological school counselor might try to steer their child. The best evidence shows that the vast majority of children naturally grow out of any gender-conflicted phase. But no one knows how new school policies might affect children indoctrinated to believe that they really are trapped in the "wrong" body.Throughout the book, Anderson highlights the various contradictions at the heart of this moment: How it embraces the gnostic idea that the real self is something other than the body, while also embracing the idea that nothing but the physical exists. How it relies on rigid sex stereotypes--in which dolls are for girls and trucks are for boys--while also insisting that gender is purely a social construct, and that there are no meaningful differences between women and men. How it assumes that feelings of identity deserve absolute respect, while the facts of our embodiment do not. How it preaches that people should be free to do as they please and define their own truth--while enforcing a ruthless campaign to coerce anyone who dares to dissent.Everyone has something at stake in today's debates about gender identity. Analyzing education and employment policies, Obama-era bathroom and locker-room mandates, politically correct speech codes and religious-freedom violations, Anderson shows how the law is being used to coerce and penalize those who believe the truth about human nature. And he shows how Americans can begin to push back with principle and prudence, compassion and grace.

When Harry Became Sally Details

TitleWhen Harry Became Sally
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 20th, 2018
PublisherEncounter Books
ISBN-139781594039614
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Cultural, Politics, Gender, Science, Sexuality, Audiobook

When Harry Became Sally Review

  • Brynn Tannehill
    January 1, 1970
    Note: Page numbers in this review refer to the advanced reader copy of the book that I acquired.)I have written elsewhere on how to detect and debunk anti-transgender propaganda in science and the media previously. I described fifteen tests, and Anderson’s book fails at every level. I cannot address all of the issues in this book, but fundamentally it is deliberately misleading and designed to push transgender people into the closet.This book was not science. It is apologetics to support a Note: Page numbers in this review refer to the advanced reader copy of the book that I acquired.)I have written elsewhere on how to detect and debunk anti-transgender propaganda in science and the media previously. I described fifteen tests, and Anderson’s book fails at every level. I cannot address all of the issues in this book, but fundamentally it is deliberately misleading and designed to push transgender people into the closet.This book was not science. It is apologetics to support a religious viewpoint and a set of policies that would cause great harm to a vulnerable minority community already suffering from significant stigma and economic disparities.So, how does this book look when you ask the 15 questions I wrote about in the link above?1. Who Wrote It?Ryan Anderson works for the Heritage Foundation, and is a conservative Catholic. Anywhere that science conflicts with his Catholic faith, he defaults to the position of the Catholic Church, and interprets the science in such a way that it conforms with his religious beliefs. At other times, he ignores scientific evidence that is contrary to his (and the Church’s) religious beliefs.Fundamentally, this is not science. This is religious apologetics.2. Who Does The Author Hang Out With?Ryan Anderson works for the Heritage Foundation, and has strong ties with the Family Research Council, which is designated as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for making “claim(s) that LGBT people are threats to home and society. Others in these hate groups disseminate disparaging “facts” about LGBT people that are simply untrue — an approach no different to how white supremacists and nativist extremists propagate lies about black people and immigrants to make these communities seem like a danger to society.”3. Where Is It Published?The book is published by Encounter Books, which is a publisher of conservative religious tracts. This affects the quality and objectivity of the book with a rather slipshod editing process. For example, on page 21 Anderson asserts that no one on the left has been able to specify any errors or flaws in an article written by Mayer and McHugh. This is patently untrue, as can be found in the enclosed links, including an article by McHugh’s colleagues at Johns Hopkins University.On page 19, Anderson claims that the decision to reopen the Johns Hopkins gender clinic “was not a consequence of any new scientific evidence” since the study commissioned by McHugh in 1977. Again, this is patently untrue: there have literally been hundreds of studies on transgender health care since 1977, and over the past 20 years the wide majority of them have shown improvements in quality of life for transgender people.A competent, unbiased editor would have challenged these rather sweeping assertions, but did not.4. Does It Blatantly Misuse (Or Cherry Pick) Real Research?One of the quickest ways to spot biased and unreliable articles about transgender people is when they misuse actual research. Most commonly this occurs when they cite a 2011 study by Dr. Cecillia Dhejne to argue that medical care for transgender people is ineffective, or that it makes them suicidal. The problem is, the research actually says no such thing, and Dhejne has gone on the record saying that attempts to use it to make these points are both wrong and unethical.As such, articles which deliberately misrepresent (lie) about the findings of actual academic work to support anti-transgender positions aren’t just wrong, they are unethical from the get go. I’ve met Dr. Dhejne, and she finds the use of her work to these ends disgusting.Anderson’s book does just this, repeatedly.Anderson misuses her research by saying that it shows that health care may not improve outcomes, when the study explicitly says you cannot use it this way because there was no transgender control group which received no treatment, so one cannot make any inferences as to the efficacy of treatment.He also omits the crucial part of Dhejne’s research that found that after 1989, the suicide rate for transgender people was mathematically similar to the general population. Dhejne looked at this data, and posited that as society became more accepting, mental health outcomes for transgender people improved.5. Does It Blatantly Misrepresent The Actual Positions Of People?I have already discussed how Anderson misrepresents Dr. Dhejne’s positions and research above. But let’s discuss Dr. Kenneth Zucker.Dr. Kenneth Zucker is a problematic figure. He has been the biggest proponent of the 80% Desistance Myth, and been completely opposed to supporting pre-pubescent kids in any gender variant behavior whatsoever, even if the kids are otherwise emotionally healthy and happy. This is why he is frequently cited by people and organizations opposed to letting transgender and gender variant kids be themselves.However, what Anderson never acknowledges is that even Zucker supports the use of puberty blockers for adolescents (i.e. those who have started puberty) who are gender dysphoric, because in an interview with a conservative outlet he conceded that, “By age 11 or 12, trans kids are typically “locked in” to their gender identity” and for them, “I very much support that pathway, because I think that is going to help them have a better quality of life.” (i.e. even Dr. Zucker thinks that kids older than 11 or 12 are unlikely to desist)Indeed, Zucker wrote a considerable portion of the DMS 5, and the WPATH Standards of Care for Transgender Adolescents. While Anderson is happy to hold Zucker up as someone who agrees with him on one thing, he ignores all the other areas where he doesn’t.6. Does It Misrepresent The Positions Of Mainstream Organizations?This book does not so much misrepresent mainstream organizations as ignore them altogether. He spends almost no time exploring the positions of the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, and other major professional organizations. He spends no time exploring how these organizations arrived at their conclusions on transgender care, or the research they examined. He doesn’t look at the evidence they examined to arrive at their conclusions.He simply dismisses them as wrong, and defaults to the viewpoints of people with similar religious views, such as Michelle Cretella and Paul McHugh. Neither has produced clinical research on transgender people (McHugh commissioned someone else to do the study at Jon’s Hopkins in the 1970’s)You can read actual position statements at the following links, and read the reports of the task forces that looked at transgender health care as well. These position statement provide copious peer reviewed references to why they support health care for transgender people.7. What Organizations Does The Author Represent?As discussed above, Mr. Anderson is an employee of the Heritage Foundation and a conservative Catholic. His views must represent the political and religious views of the organizations he represents, and cannot represent anything close to an impartial, scientific review.Within the book itself, he includes the views of many people with strongly anti-LGBT views, such as Michelle Cretella of ACPeds (a fake medical organization and SPLC certified hate group for deliberately spreading falsehoods and misinformation about LGBT people), Leon Kass (who was a conservative opponent of same sex marriage),Ask what organizations the writer belongs to, or is representing. Do they belong to a hate group, as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center?[1] Or speak for fake medical organizations that are routinely produce recommendations driven by religious beliefs rather than peer-reviewed science and medical consensus?[2] If they do, they cannot credibly claim to be unbiased, or acting in the best interests of transgender people.(Seriously, if someone is a spokesperson for the Klan, you can’t take their claims that they’re acting on behalf of the best interests of black people. Why should we think about it differently when the group being targeted is transgender people?) 8. Who Does The Article Cite?Many of the primary people used to support Anderson’s assertions have long histories of anti-LGBT animus, such as Michelle Cretella of ACPeds (a fake medical organization and SPLC certified hate group for deliberately spreading falsehoods and misinformation about LGBT people), Leon Kass (who was a conservative opponent of same sex marriage), Ray Blanchard and Michael Bailey (who routinely post at anti-transgender websites and push theories designed to denigrate the identities and dignity of transgender people), Paul McHugh (long history of anti-LGBT nastiness and defender of pedophile priests) 9. Does The Article Go Against The Scientific Consensus?There is currently an overwhelming consensus by professional organizations for mental and medical care providers on the necessity and efficacy of health care for transgender individuals. These organizations include the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association. These organizations studied the matter in detail before taking these positions.Ryan attempts to contradict all of these organizations, while relying primarily on a pair of non-peer reviewed articles in a religious publication written by people with a long history of religious based hostility towards LGBT people to support his assertions that everyone else got it wrong.Mr. Anderson must adequately explain why he’s more qualified or smarter than the vast majority of experts who have studied the issue based on peer-reviewed evidence. Alternately, he must explain why all the peer-reviewed evidence is wrong in a way that would survive peer review.Ryan Anderson does neither, meaning that this book is much more of an opinion piece than a work based on science.10. Does It Substitute Anecdotes For Research?The entire chapter on detransitioners chooses anecdote over research. The actual peer reviewed evidence shows that regret rates tend to be very low (1-2%), and regrets are frequently over being treated poorly after transition by others, and not about being transgender.Worse, Anderson did not even interview at least 4 out of the 6 people he cites, and they were not happy about how their stories were being used.Another example of anecdote over research in this book is the claim that public accommodations laws endanger women based on a small number of anecdotes and people who fear (and sometimes hate) transgender people, when there is no peer-reviewed quantitative evidence to support this assertion.11. Are Crucial Details Deliberately Left Out Or Ignored?This occurs frequently in Anderson’s book, and is deliberately done to mislead the reader. For example:* On page 191-192 Anderson leaves out the crucial fact that the transgender boy (Mack) wrestling in the girls’ division in Texas tried to wrestle with the boys, but was not allowed to because Texas law required him to use his birth certificate to determine which division he should be in. In Texas, it is almost impossible to change your birth certificate. As such, Mack was left only two options: quit the sport or wrestle in the girls division. He tried to do the right thing, but people with positions like Anderson’s prevented him from doing so.* Leaves out all of the current research showing positive psychological outcomes for transgender youth with supportive environments* Leaves out all of the studies showing that transgender youth in unsupportive environments (like the ones proposed by Anderson) have worse mental health outcomes* Leaves out all of the previous research showing that attempts to change the gender identity of adults have failed, just as they did when trying to make gay people straight* Omits discussion of epigenetics and other biological factors in human development. For example, studies of identical twins show that while autism, sexual orientation, and gender identity are correlated (i.e. if your twin is autistic/gay/transgender, you’re more likely to be as well). However, it’s not a 100% correlation (if your twin is autistic/gay/transgender, you might not be).* Omits the fact that transgender people exist across cultures throughout human history, and it didn’t cause cultural collapse or people to forget how to procreate or have families. Indeed, the Hijra of India have been around for 2500 years, and there are 1.3 billion people in the country.* Fails to note that transgender unemployment runs at twice the national rate due to discrimination, similar to the figure for African-Americans.* The book did not discuss the fact that transgender people can be, and often are, happy and successful in their daily lives and careers* Omits the entirety of the research into biological origins of gender identity. You can read some of it at these links; there’s actually quite a bit.Anderson fails to explore any of these, and a lot more, in order to present the reader with a distorted picture of the state of the research.12. Does It Make Unsupportable Assumptions?A prime example of an unsupportable assumption is that transgender people can (and should) just stop being transgender because of higher health risks, as if it was like quitting smoking or eating carb-loaded snacks before bedtime. This assumption first ignores that the medical and mental health care communities regard efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity as ineffectual and unethical. It also ignores the fact that the only people promising to “fix” someone’s gender identity are the same people who failed so miserably at “curing” gay people while using the same “embrace your God-given masculinity” snake oil.Anderson’s book implies that “clinicians need to be trained in these methods.” (p. 211) The problem is, Anderson doesn’t actually acknowledge that there are NO clinically tested, peer reviewed treatment methods to change a persons’ gender identity. They tried all the same things they did on gay men (praying, electric shocks, aversion therapy using castor oil and chemical tear agents, cognitive behavioral therapy, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, psychic driving, hypnosis, Jungian theory, you name it) without success.In short, Anderson assumes that there is a method that works (there isn’t), and that the reader won’t question whether there is (you should). Anderson makes the unsupportable (and no, 14 people in Europe does not constitute a need for a nationwide network of doctors) assumption that there are lots and lots of transgender people out there who cannot wait to have their surgeries reversed, if only activists would let them.Or, conversely, it’s a lot easier to reasonably assume based on the peer reviewed evidence that if transgender people weren’t ostracized, abused, and legally marginalized they’d have better mental health outcomes. This has been borne out in numerous studies (i.e. transgender people have much better mental health outcomes when they’re not abused, ostracized, and discriminated against)Go figure.13. Does It Make Unsupportable Conclusions? (And Ignore The Supported Ones?)Examples of unsupportable conclusions in this book are myriad.Many of the anecdotes about detransitioners essentially conclude that no one should ever be allowed to transition (which ignores the peer reviewed evidence showing the vast majority of transgender people report improvement in quality of life after transition). A far more logical conclusion would be that people should have better (more) access to competent mental health care providers, which is something the APA is recommending anyway. A common thread among the people Anderson cited was that they either had limited access to mental health care providers, or in the case of Walt Heyer, deliberately deceived them.It essentially concludes that stigmatizing and abusing transgender people until they go back into the closet is good for transgender people.It concludes that the best thing for transgender people is to undergo some sort of unspecified reparative therapy, when no such therapy has ever been demonstrated to be effective (but there is plenty evidence of harm.)It concludes that all transgender people are, by definition, mentally ill, even if they are happy, well adjusted, successful, and highly successful in their careers. In other words, in order to conclude that transgender people are mentally ill, Mr. Anderson has taken upon himself to re-write the very definition of mental illness as defined by psychiatrists and psychologist (which he is not).It concludes that transgender people should be banned from bathrooms because someone might pretend to be transgender and do bad things. Sort of like banning Sikhs from entering the US because most people don’t know the difference between Muslims and Sikhs anyway.14. Does The Article Make Wild Accusations And Predict Ludicrous Outcomes?Strange ideas and accusations in this book include:* Accepting transgender people will destroy our entire cultural concept of gender and sex,* Transgender people destroy women’s rights* Transgender people are somehow contributing to the decline of family / marriage in the US* Transgender people cause people to forget how to procreate* Support for transgender health care is part of a conspiracy by “politically correct” medical and mental health organizations* Transgender activists are stealing kids and forcing them to transition with therapists who railroad them.When your positions require a conspiracy theory where thousands of medical professionals are in on it in order to be true, the positions are on pretty weak ground.15. Does The Article Imply Religion Is A Cure For Gender Dysphoria?While Anderson does not explicitly state what the “cure” for gender dysphoria should be, he does not rule out the religious based programs recommended by the Family Research Council (with which he is affiliated and cites). Indeed, every one of the “ex-trans” programs recommended by the FRC is religious based. Since Anderson cannot cite a secular methodology for curing gender dysphoria, all that remains are religious ones.And using religion to establish public health policy is not scientific. ****************************************************************************While Anderson claims “we must not be careful to stigmatize those who are suffering”, the book alleges the following about transgender people:Transgender people are all mentally illTransgender women are gay men who want to trick straight men into sleeping with them ORTransgender women are straight men who are all sexual pervertsTransgender activists are stealing children and conducting medical experiments on themAcceptance and inclusion of transgender people is unacceptable because of bathroomsTransgender people are destroying the American family (somehow)The goal of convincing readers transgender people are deranged perverts who steal children while destroying America is to get them to discriminate against transgender people. Anderson then advocates for eliminating all civil rights protections for transgender people to ensure that people are able to do just that.On page 27, Ryan makes it clear that this book isn’t really about what’s best for transgender people, it’s what he sees as best for everyone else. “The topic at issue that day was not whether people who identify as transgender have a right to their lives; it was what sort of policies best respect the lives of students who identify as transgender and the lives of all the other students,” where he italicizes “all the other students,” for emphasis on who really matters.This book was not science. It was propaganda to support a religious viewpoint and a set of policies that would cause great harm to a vulnerable minori
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  • emily
    January 1, 1970
    Ryan Anderson has managed to, in the grand tradition of oppressors, write about a marginalized group of people without asking them to tell their own stories. No trans writers, no doctors who treat trans people, no leaders in the trans community, have stepped up to lend their voices to the book or even go so far as to give a quote for its cover. I wonder why that is?Also, any reference to trans lives and experiences as something that's just cropped up in the past few years is woefully ignorant of Ryan Anderson has managed to, in the grand tradition of oppressors, write about a marginalized group of people without asking them to tell their own stories. No trans writers, no doctors who treat trans people, no leaders in the trans community, have stepped up to lend their voices to the book or even go so far as to give a quote for its cover. I wonder why that is?Also, any reference to trans lives and experiences as something that's just cropped up in the past few years is woefully ignorant of hundreds, if not thousands, of years of history. This book isn't just bigotry, it's misinformation. Should find a huge readership among Republicans, but as for me, I'll be giving it a hard pass.
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  • George P.
    January 1, 1970
    “America is in the midst of what has been called a ‘transgender moment,’” writes Ryan T. Anderson in When Harry Became Sally. “Not long ago, most Americans had never heard of transgender identity, but within the space of a year it became a cause claiming the mantle of civil rights.”The inflection point was probably Diane Sawyer’s April 2015 interview with Bruce Jenner, in which he said, “for all intents and purposes I’m a woman,” taking the name Caitlyn a few months later. A judge legally “America is in the midst of what has been called a ‘transgender moment,’” writes Ryan T. Anderson in When Harry Became Sally. “Not long ago, most Americans had never heard of transgender identity, but within the space of a year it became a cause claiming the mantle of civil rights.”The inflection point was probably Diane Sawyer’s April 2015 interview with Bruce Jenner, in which he said, “for all intents and purposes I’m a woman,” taking the name Caitlyn a few months later. A judge legally approved Jenner’s name and gender change in September of that year. In October, Glamour magazine named Jenner a “Woman of the Year.”Jenner’s transition put a well-known face on America’s transgender moment, but actions by the Obama administration gave the moment legal muscle. In a series of “Dear Colleague” letters, first the Department of Education (2010) and then the Department of Justice and Department of Education jointly (2016) redefined the word sex — i.e., biological sex — to include “gender identity.”The Department of Health and Human Services (2016) similarly proposed expanding the meaning of sex to include “gender identity.” Various federal laws ban discrimination based on sex (e.g., Title IX), but Obama administration actions required schools and hospitals to act as if there were no legal difference between a biological female and a biological male who identifies as a woman. (The Trump administration reversed many of these executive actions.)Popular culture and political action may have normalized transgender identity, but Anderson reminds readers how radical it is. “At the heart of the transgender moment are radical ideas about the human person — in particular, that people are what they claim to be, regardless of contrary evidence. A transgender boy is a boy, not merely a girl who identifies as a boy.” This is a metaphysical claim, one that needs to be subjected to more scrutiny than it has been. When Harry Became Sally offers a multidisciplinary critique of transgender identity.Chapters 1 and 2 describe our transgender moment and the ideology of transgender activists, respectively.Chapter 3 then turns to the personal narratives of transgender people who subsequently detransitioned to their birth sex. Anderson argues that these stories “tell us, at minimum, that transitioning is not the ‘only solution’ to gender dysphoria.”Chapter 4 examines “what science tells us about the biological basis of sex.” Anderson writes, “The fundamental conceptual distinction between a male and a female is the organism’s organization for sexual reproduction.” Indeed, he argues that “sex is a coherent concept only on the basis of that organization.”Chapter 5 then explores the nature and treatment of gender dysphoria. Anderson understands it as “incongruence between biological sex and experienced gender.” How one defines gender dysphoria determines how one treats it. “The central debate in treating people with gender dysphoria is whether therapies should focus primarily on the mind or on the body.” Anderson argues that treating the feeling of incongruity between biological sex and gender identity has better therapeutic outcomes than gender reassignment.Chapter 6 examines gender dysphoria among children. Experts agree that between 80 and 95 percent of kids who experience gender dysphoria naturally resolve those feelings in favor of their biological sex. Because of this, Anderson argues, “We need medical professionals who will help them mature in harmony with their bodies, rather than deploy experimental treatments to refashion their bodies.”Chapter 7 outlines a view of gender that Anderson believes is preferable to transgender identity theory. It is a “nuanced view of gender.” It avoids rigid gender stereotypes, even as it acknowledges that “gender norms” are not merely “social constructs.”Chapter 8 concludes the book by examining transgender identity from the standpoint of public policy. Anderson’s primary concern is that “commonsense policies regarding bodily privacy and sound medicine are now being labeled discriminatory.”In my judgment, When Harry Became Sally makes a persuasive case against the idea of transgender identity, as well as the medical and public policy practices that flow from that idea. Five or ten years ago, Anderson’s arguments would have been noncontroversial. Today, however, as popular culture and presidential politics have mainstreamed transgender identity, those arguments have become a matter of great controversy.The value of When Harry Became Sally lies in its multidisciplinary arguments. If you’re looking for a book about what to do if you personally experience gender dysphoria, or how to help a friend or family member who experiences it, this is not the book to read.Similarly, it is not a religious book. I read it from the perspective of a Christian minister interested in how the Church should respond to transgender persons. Though Anderson is Catholic, his arguments are secular in character, depending on biology, psychology and philosophy, not Scripture and theology. He helped me understand the nature of transgender identity, but he didn’t outline a uniquely pastoral response to it.In sum, When Harry Became Sally is the reasoned judgment of a public intellectual on an important matter of current controversy, well worth reading. Book ReviewedRyan T. Anderson, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (New York: Encounter, 2018).P.S. I wrote this review for InfluenceMagazine.com. It appears here by permission.P.P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote "Yes" on my Amazon.com review page.
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  • Todd Miles
    January 1, 1970
    Anderson's contribution to the transgender issue is primarily from the policy (state, education, community, science, etc.) standpoint. Of particular interest is his chapter giving voice to the experiences of those who have "detransitioned." It was heartbreaking. Anderson's book demonstrates how void of scientific basis this entire issue actually is and how purely ideological it is. This is a must read for any who are confused by the current state of things or are involved in developing policies Anderson's contribution to the transgender issue is primarily from the policy (state, education, community, science, etc.) standpoint. Of particular interest is his chapter giving voice to the experiences of those who have "detransitioned." It was heartbreaking. Anderson's book demonstrates how void of scientific basis this entire issue actually is and how purely ideological it is. This is a must read for any who are confused by the current state of things or are involved in developing policies at churches, civic organizations, or schools.
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  • Breck Wightman
    January 1, 1970
    It seems like there are a lot of troll reviews for this book. Anderson takes the issue on with class and respect. Consider this a holistic approach...he covers gender, culture, politics and policy, law, biology, medical practice, psychology, metaphysics, and more. Highly recommend for social conservatives or for someone wanting to understand the social conservative argument.
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  • Juanita
    January 1, 1970
    Well researched and thought provoking. It was kind of refreshing to hear a different take on the issues, yet i didn't find it transphobic or hateful. It questions some of the science or lack thereof behind what we hear in the media. Some of the issues it touches on are whether the approach to helping a a transgender/gender dysphoric child become their best self should be the same as with and adult? And is transitioning always the best solution or are there other approaches that work for some Well researched and thought provoking. It was kind of refreshing to hear a different take on the issues, yet i didn't find it transphobic or hateful. It questions some of the science or lack thereof behind what we hear in the media. Some of the issues it touches on are whether the approach to helping a a transgender/gender dysphoric child become their best self should be the same as with and adult? And is transitioning always the best solution or are there other approaches that work for some people? I would highly recommend this book to anyone thinking about transgender issues.
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    This is an important read. There is nothing hateful in this in the slightest. Anderson emphasizes respect for the afflicted, caution for the confused, and common sense protections for women and children. Must read if you're not afraid of nuanced though on the subject.
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  • Jeremy
    January 1, 1970
    Related post here. CT review here. Recommended here.
  • Sharad Pandian
    January 1, 1970
    In the beginning of his book, Anderson claims "this book is an effort to provide a nuanced view of our sexed embodiment, a balanced approach to policy issues involving transgender identity and gender more broadly, and a sober and honest survey of the human costs of getting human nature wrong."He does not quite deliver on any of this.-1. What I think is basically going on, overall:The default assumption that everyone is cisgender, comfortable with their birth assignment of gender, turns out to be In the beginning of his book, Anderson claims "this book is an effort to provide a nuanced view of our sexed embodiment, a balanced approach to policy issues involving transgender identity and gender more broadly, and a sober and honest survey of the human costs of getting human nature wrong."He does not quite deliver on any of this.-1. What I think is basically going on, overall:The default assumption that everyone is cisgender, comfortable with their birth assignment of gender, turns out to be false in many cases and so trans people fight for a different world where:1) Those not cis are not pressured into hiding and don't have violence done to them because they're trans2) Trans people get medical resources required3) It is easier for people to come out to others as transThe problem is that traditional society doesn't see sex/gender as assigned, as much as identified and nurtured, much like a plant. Sure, there can be deviations in a particular plant's nature and nurture, but this shouldn't change the way we think of normalcy in plant growth.The battle between the two sides is a complex one of conceptual interventions, being selective of which cases to focus on, , etc...because that's how any social debate happens. Anyone who's unreflectvely in either camp is going to end up with a bunch of half-truths, with which they can point and laugh at the other's half-baked opinions, only to open themselves up to similar criticism. For example, Anderson successfully points out the hypocrisy of many trans-allies quite well: he points out that Andrew Cuomo denounced North Carolina's bathroom bill...while visiting Cuba. Many companies boycotted North Carolina, while being completely cool working in far more repressive nations. Hardline stances just don't seem possible in any comprehensive way.In addition, against the background of how these are novel conceptual innovations in the way we think about gender/sex, the fact that some cis people might still be uncomfortable with different sex bodies in their changing rooms doesn't sound crazy. Anderson points out that if people actually thought different changing rooms for boys and girls were acceptable, body-based differences seem just as compelling as identity-based ones as a criterion. So the federal government punishing schools for their varying policies is probably questionable, especially if it is done sneakily through the reinterpretation of older statutes with "sex" as gender identity. Like ok, this isn't a terrible argument.But when Anderson presents his actual substantive views, it becomes clear that his claims to care about trans people are like Cinderella's step-mother who thinks her cruelty is care - it's either a lie or delusional. And that's not even mentioning the pretty weird metaphysics he adheres to, which I'll try to indicate below.-2. On developmentBefore I go on to what doesn't work, I thought I would highlight the strongest part of Anderson's argument. This is the claim that the opposition has no serious account of child development, in particular, an account of the acquisition of gender. They basically seem to be assuming children are just miniature adults, already exposed to enough content and mature enough to sift through their role amidst these.I remember a story about how Dan Savage's son, who he raised with his male partner, simply could not accept that idea of same-sex marriage because in his mind marriage was just between a man and a woman. He wasn't some kind of miniature bigot, it's just that children have very limited conceptual vocabularies and are quite fixed in their narrow usages. So the teaching of gender and how it might be navigated is probably quite dicey, and I think it probable that a lot of children who might identify as other genders might be relying on rigid stereotypes. To therefore get rid of the slow teaching of norms to children in favour of solely a choice-first approach is probably a mistake, as Anderson claims (even if a bit too harshly):For children, developing into a healthy understanding of their bodies and their sexuality is a delicate enterprise, fraught with difficulties even in the best circumstances. Transgender ideology makes the process much more difficult by destabilizing what David Cloutier calls the “sexual ecology.” It challenges the normality of congruence between sex and gender simply because a small number of people have trouble reconciling themselves with their bodily sex. “To destabilize [the] default position of body/soul congruence,” writes Cloutier, “is to allow exceptional cases to reshape the entire ecology.” We should be tolerant—indeed, loving—toward those who struggle with their gender identity, but also be aware of the harm done to the common good, particularly to children, when transgender identity is normalized. Transgender activists are not merely asking for tolerance or kindness; they are demanding affirmation, not just from adults but from children and adolescents who are already challenged by the normal process of sexual development. Cloutier observes that “affirming and accommodating the transgender identity of one child will affect other children, in much the same way that gender stereotypes about alpha males and compliant females affect them.” In a culture where transgender identities are not only affirmed but celebrated, everyone will be compelled to construct their own gender identity, unaided by a common understanding of sex differences and why they matter.Anderson has a section on de-transitioners who loosely corroborate this criticism by claiming that a big part of what made them want to transition is rigid stereotypes they held as children (eg: people assigned as girls at birth who believed that if they had been boys, then they could have protected their mothers).-3. Anderson's problemsWhile I think this is a decent argument, the problem is that Anderson has some pretty wacky ideas about gender and sex himself:Sex is a bodily, biological reality, and gender is how we give social expression to that reality. Gender properly understood is a social manifestation of human nature, springing forth from biological realities, though shaped by rational and moral choice. Human beings are creatures of nature and of culture, but a healthy culture does not attempt to erase our nature as male or female embodied beings. Instead, it promotes the integrity of persons, in part by cultivating manifestations of sex differences that correspond to biological facts.It sounds very nice, but if you examine its parts it strikes you as a bunch of vapid words designed to claim that the gender norms of a few decades ago are the "natural" ones. This puts him in a fix - after all, the stories of detransitioners impel him to claim that trans kids are wrongly over-relying on stereotypes:Acknowledging the richly diverse ways of being male and female can help children more readily identify with and accept their own embodiment.But on the other hand, he also thinks there are real differences between men and women, as when he approvingly quotes David Popenoe:Men and women are different to the core, and each is necessary— culturally and biologically—for the optimal development of a human being.This dig at same-sex parents and single parents, unfortunately makes him claim that men are women are "different to the core". But if this is so, maybe those trans kids are actually onto something because they could have powerful internal tendencies to act like the other gender from which their current one is "different to the core". Anderson tries to paper over this by claiming there needs to be a balance, but these two approaches- that stereotypes are real and valid, and that stereotypes are not- are approaches that are..."different to the core". Once you admit there are real differences, and given the plausible empirical assumption that there exist people with persistent and immutable need to identify with the other different-to-the-core gender, Anderson's whole argument about detransitioners and stereotypes gets shaky really fast.-4. More problemsAs I mentioned at the start, its easy enough to kick up enough dust to make the opposition seem less solid that it portrays itself to be. Let's say Anderson does this well. However, he also seems to think that showing that there isn't as much scientific consensus on the other side's claims automatically means the status quo is the right one:If science doesn’t support this course of treatment for children, why are these “drastic and experimental measures” now being promoted as the norm?In essence, an eight-year-old child was treated as an authority on whether and how to block puberty. A third-grader was “definitely” sure that the implant was right.Sure these don't sounds ideal, but what's the alternative, especially since at least a big chunk of kinds with dysphoria will turn out to actually be trans? Allow parents to make all the decisions anyway? Including parents who might be dumb enough to think this book is some kind of comprehensive guide?-5. DeceitBut worst of all is Anderson's complete lack of academic integrity. There might have been good reason to highlight the stories of de-transitioners, as I've indicated above...but he doesn't interview any other trans people. Not one. This allows him to say stuff like:For an individual to look female while living as a male, or vice versa, “creates difficult barriers with enormous lifelong disadvantages.” No doubt. But it isn’t clear why the remedy would be to change the body rather than address the disconnection at the psychological level.Well it's not clear because you didn't talk to any trans person who also didn't de-transition, you dingus. The rhetorical move here is so infuriating, because obviously such a statement would be completely implausible if he had also conceded the existence of trans people who swear that transition really helped out their lives (He repeated brings up a study to show that suicide attempts over the lifetime doesn't diminish for people who transitioned, but this is attempts OVER THEIR LIFETIMES, so even if they tried to kill themselves as teens, this would be included)I somewhat respect the anti same-sex marriage views of other Natural Lawyers like Robert P. George because they were at least honest and had integrity, they engaged. This book's complete absence of any actual opposition views or figures makes it quite clear that Anderson is an intellectual charlatan through and through. Would any serious intellectual write a whole book without seriously engaging with any arguments, let alone the strongest arguments, from the other side?-6. The lack of philosophical subtletyFor my own part, I actually do think that there is (for now, at least) a kind of primacy to cisgender heterosexuality. But this is a primacy about intelligibility, according to which deviations from this can only be understood against its background. It isn't some kind of moral primacy, where everyone needs to be forced to adhere to it. That's the argument I'd like to see conservatives engage with or even challenge. But following his metaphysics, Anderson keeps running these two kinds of primacies together, creating a stance which is bound to be unappealing to the vast majority of people, if only they read him closely enough.
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  • David Robertson
    January 1, 1970
    his is a stunning book – the best I have read on the subject of Transgender. But it is about so much more than that. It covers issues such as gender fluidity, the difference and connection between biological sex and gender; feminism, politics, government, law and media. Although it is written from and into the American situation (which seems especially nuts) it is certainly applicable to the UK and other areas of the Western world – or indeed any part of the world where Western liberal his is a stunning book – the best I have read on the subject of Transgender. But it is about so much more than that. It covers issues such as gender fluidity, the difference and connection between biological sex and gender; feminism, politics, government, law and media. Although it is written from and into the American situation (which seems especially nuts) it is certainly applicable to the UK and other areas of the Western world – or indeed any part of the world where Western liberal imperialists seek to impose their ideologyIt is well researched and written, with a great mixture of theory and practice. I was particularly moved by the personal testimonies of those who have been harmed by the current trans fad amongst the governing elites. They are heartbreaking.Before any lawmakers, just following the fashion, pass any further laws on changing gender and adopting the whole concept of gender fluidity – they should read this book. (In my own country I hope every MSP will read this before passing the Scottish Governments mad gender self-identity proposals – if you baulk at my description of it being ‘state sponsored child abuse’, then read this book for the evidence. Of course the way the militant trans activists conduct themselves I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to get it banned – so get your copy now. It will enlighten, inform and sadden you. It will also make you glad that someone with brains and sanity has their finger on the pulse of what is going on!I have written a more extended review with quotes here - https://theweeflea.com/2018/05/16/whe...
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  • Gigi
    January 1, 1970
    I am not crazy about the harry and sally part of the title of this book, but to call what we are going through the transgender “moment” does make a very important and encouraging point, ie, that the trans issue, like same sex marriage, are temporary phenomena. The culture will return to truth on these issues. Both were made possible and are sustained only by massive propaganda campaigns, eg, via a sympathetic media. It astounds me when people in media use biologically incorrect pronouns; do they I am not crazy about the harry and sally part of the title of this book, but to call what we are going through the transgender “moment” does make a very important and encouraging point, ie, that the trans issue, like same sex marriage, are temporary phenomena. The culture will return to truth on these issues. Both were made possible and are sustained only by massive propaganda campaigns, eg, via a sympathetic media. It astounds me when people in media use biologically incorrect pronouns; do they not realize that in lying on this issue, they are undermining their credibility on every issue? I am constantly amazed by Ryan T Anderson’s ability to write and with great clarity and charity on difficult topics. (Although I suppose in a sane culture, Ryan’s positions would be taken for granted as truth and common sense, as they were until about a nanosecond ago.) Would recommend this book or the book he co-authored on marriage, or any videos of Ryan speaking that have been posted on YouTube.
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  • Gabriella Hoffman
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very timely book on this controversial matter. Ryan Anderson take a very level-headed, respectful tone towards those advocating for transgenderism. He cites numerous individuals with empathetic intentions to show how failed transitions or those who detransitioned need to be heard rather than coerced into dire situations. He offers constructive criticism without demeaning his opponents and offers a scientific sound argument to pose questions of this transgender moment—one that actually This is a very timely book on this controversial matter. Ryan Anderson take a very level-headed, respectful tone towards those advocating for transgenderism. He cites numerous individuals with empathetic intentions to show how failed transitions or those who detransitioned need to be heard rather than coerced into dire situations. He offers constructive criticism without demeaning his opponents and offers a scientific sound argument to pose questions of this transgender moment—one that actually has drawn bipartisan support from radical feminists and ChrisTian conservative women who sound the alarm on conflating biological sex with gender. I’ll have a more thorough review for The Resurgent in the coming days, but I highly recommend this book to be read to better understand the nuances surrounding this cultural issue, and to be cautious with it.
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing, well-researched book. Ryan T. Andersen thoroughly examines this "transgender moment" as he quotes several people who detransitioned, reports on scientific studies, and discusses laws based on gender or gender identity. I too support the approach of seeing “medicine as a practice aimed at restoring healthy functioning, not simply satisfying the desires of patients.” (p.5) It is heartbreaking to read about many people who detransitioned back to their biological sex after operations and Amazing, well-researched book. Ryan T. Andersen thoroughly examines this "transgender moment" as he quotes several people who detransitioned, reports on scientific studies, and discusses laws based on gender or gender identity. I too support the approach of seeing “medicine as a practice aimed at restoring healthy functioning, not simply satisfying the desires of patients.” (p.5) It is heartbreaking to read about many people who detransitioned back to their biological sex after operations and hormone treatments. Everyone who undergoes transition is left sterile for life, which can be so disappointing for many of them later in life when they wish they could bear a child. Because the pressure to transition is very strong, often people with gender dysphoria aren’t told about other options, such as counseling to deal with the childhood trauma behind their confusion. It is especially sad to hear of children being encouraged to live as the opposite sex, when “All competent authorities agree that between 80 and 95 percent of children who say that they are transgender naturally come to accept their sex and to enjoy emotional health by late adolescence.” (p. 123) Because of this, Anderson argues, “We need medical professionals who will help them mature in harmony with their bodies, rather than deploy experimental treatments to refashion their bodies.” Andersen writes with clarity and charity and digs deep into this controversial issue. Highly recommended!“Drawing on the best insights from biology, psychology, and philosophy, Ryan T. Anderson offers a balanced approach to the policy issues, a nuanced vision of human embodiment, and a sober and honest survey of the human costs of getting human nature wrong.” -inside front cover“The best biology, psychology, and philosophy all support an understanding of sex as a bodily reality, and of gender as a social manifestation of bodily sex. Biology isn’t bigotry.” -p. 2“Activists tend to be uncompromising in their demands, yet their worldview is fraught with contradictions. It holds that the real self is fundamentally separate from the material body, yet insists that transforming the body is crucial for personal wholeness. It attaches a notion of authentic gender identity to stereotypical activities and dispositions, yet it grows from a philosophy holding that gender is an artificial construct. It promotes a radical subjectivity in which individuals should be free to do whatever they wish and to define the truth as they choose, yet it calls for enforced conformity of belief in transgender dogma.” -p. 4“Many psychologists and psychiatrists think of gender dysphoria as being much like other kinds of dysphoria, or serous discomfort with one’s body, such as anorexia. These feelings can lead to mistaken and harmful beliefs. The most helpful therapies do not try to remake the body to conform with thoughts and feelings - which is impossible- but rather to help people find healthy ways to manage this tension and move toward accepting the reality of their bodily selves.” -p. 5Protesting NC’s “bathroom bill” (which says people need to use the public restroom that corresponds with their biological sex): “The NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, a decision that was particularly amusing given that the NBA and its sister organization, the WNBA, determine participation in their leagues according to biology….That they boycotted a state in an effort to force a policy they haven’t voluntarily adopted for themselves was the height of hypocrisy.” -p. 15“It’s hard to see how these contradictory positions can be combined. If you pull too hard on any one thread of transgender ideology, the whole tapestry comes unraveled. But here are some questions we can pose: If gender is a social construct, how can gender identity be innate and immutable?...Why should feeling like a man- whatever that means- MAKE someone a man?...The challenge for activists is to explain why a person’s “real” sex is determined by an inner “gender identity”, but age and height and race and species are not determined by an inner sense of identity.” -pp. 46-7“I want to ask you, how many other medical conditions are there where you can walk into the doctor’s office, tell them you have a certain condition, which has no objective test, which can be caused by trauma or mental health issues or societal factors, and receive life-altering medications on your say-so?” -p. 53“A strain of radical feminism intersects with transgender ideology in the shared premise that gender has no real connection to biology and can be nullified or changed at will.” -p. 172 “Whereas the law forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, HHS redefined the word ‘sex’ to mean ‘gender identity,’ without legal authority to do so. Medical professionals and health-care organizations would thus be penalized for believing -as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional judgment- that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to be respected, not defects to be corrected.” -p. 175What we see happening in schools: “The aim of protecting students who identify as transgender from bullying and respecting their dignity is reasonable in itself, but that’s not what these policies are about. They’re about a larger program of indoctrination in gender ideology… ‘Antibullying’ programs can turn into 'antidisagreement’ programs. Dissent is equated with bigotry and hate, so no dissent will be tolerated. All students must accept gender ideology, and their parents will have no say in the matter.” -p. 178“Gender identity claims are manifested in action, and actions are subject to moral evaluation, while one’s race and sex are not. Existing and proposed gender identity laws...aren’t deployed as shields to protect people from unjust discrimination, but as swords to impose a new sexual orthodoxy on private citizens...It is one thing for the government to allow or even endorse conduct that many citizens consider immoral, but quite another thing for the government to force others to condone and facilitate such conduct in violation of their convictions.” -p. 196 (e.g. forcing doctors to prescribe hormones and perform hysterectomies or mastectomies on healthy bodies)From Cari, who detransitioned after having a mastectomy and taking testosterone: “Transition didn’t really make my dysphoria better, it just kind of kept moving the goalposts, so I felt like I was making progress, but I never got any closer to where I wanted to be or where I thought I wanted to be...This is a real outcome of transition. I’m a real live 22 year old woman with a scarred chest and a broken voice and 5 o’clock shadow because I couldn’t face the idea of growing up to be a woman. That’s my reality.’” -pp. 54, 56From Crash, who detransitioned: “Being supported in my trans identity didn’t help me, letting go of it and accepting myself as a woman did. Changing my body didn’t help me find lasting peace. I helped myself by tracing back my trans identity and dysphoria to trauma and working through how I’d been hurt… And when I look back I’m horrified and creeped out. There’s something disturbing about doing something you think is good for yourself but that turns out to be really self-destructive and it’s even worse when so many other people were helping you and making it easier for you to do it.” -pp. 59, 60
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  • Christopher S.
    January 1, 1970
    I just completed “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” by Ryan T. Anderson. Every thinking person needs to read this book. Before proceeding please re-read my last sentence. By that I mean this is an important book. The very essence of our culture is at stake. The transgender movement is based on bad “science”, bad philosophy, bad public policy and irrational ontology.Although Anderson writes about a controversial topic, he writes in a logical and winsome manner. Rather I just completed “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” by Ryan T. Anderson. Every thinking person needs to read this book. Before proceeding please re-read my last sentence. By that I mean this is an important book. The very essence of our culture is at stake. The transgender movement is based on bad “science”, bad philosophy, bad public policy and irrational ontology.Although Anderson writes about a controversial topic, he writes in a logical and winsome manner. Rather than attacking those who identify as transgender, Anderson carefully and thoughtfully addresses the topic. If you think this book does not pertain to you, think again! The transgender moment is a freight train careening down the tracks of our culture. This moment produces harm to our culture and, more importantly, to those individuals who are led into the mythical land of transitioning from one gender to another (it is not possible and Anderson explains why). Transitioning causes great harm to individuals who suffer from gender dysphoria. Most of these individuals, if properly treated, would go on to lead happy, healthy and productive lives consistent with their biological sex.Anderson explains how transgender activists are using intimidation to cow society into accepting, accommodating and cheering their cause. Anderson’s book will arm you with the intellectual arguments you will need to combat our culture from a further “slouching toward Gomorrah”Take my word for it—you need to read this book and then you need to educate those with whom you are influential. Stop wringing your hands and do something! Happy reading.
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  • Josh
    January 1, 1970
    For a legal, medical/biological, and cultural analysis of the transgender moment, Ryan Anderson's book can't be beat. He relies heavily on natural law or teleology as the basis of his argument, and as a Christian presuppositionalist I think more has to be said to completely buttress the argument (eventually, the "why" of human nature must rest upon the foundation of "In the beginning God"). But Anderson's book is in every other way superb: cogent, compassionate, and comprehensive.
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  • Vagabond of Letters
    January 1, 1970
    9/10.This encyclopedic reference is lacking only extensive religious arguments against transsexualism and the gender ideology agenda, and how to engage with persons infected by said meme.Anyone who knows a good book containing those from a traditional Catholic or very conservative evangelical perspective, let me know.
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  • Thomas Achord
    January 1, 1970
    Informative, sad, enlightening, and provides a way forward for policies.
  • Joshua Reichard
    January 1, 1970
    I have been reading books on transgenderism to really see what is going on in this movement. And this book by Ryan Anderson is a must read. He give solid advice, facts, and truths about how this movement is actually hurting the world. How those who are extremists miss understand transgenderism and try to push their false ideas on everyone! He compared this movement to the movement to remove racism and said the removing racism was bringing a shield to those who were being attacked and mistreated I have been reading books on transgenderism to really see what is going on in this movement. And this book by Ryan Anderson is a must read. He give solid advice, facts, and truths about how this movement is actually hurting the world. How those who are extremists miss understand transgenderism and try to push their false ideas on everyone! He compared this movement to the movement to remove racism and said the removing racism was bringing a shield to those who were being attacked and mistreated whereas transgenderism is bringing a sword and cutting everyone down in their way. This is a must read for everyone regardless of background or belief this book will help you truly think long and hard about why we should or should not encourage the transgenderism movement.
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  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    Superb.
  • David Haines
    January 1, 1970
    This is a well-written, balanced, and sober analysis of the current cultural discussion concerning Gender Identity and Transgender sexuality. The author devotes an entire chapter (ch. 2) to presenting the claims, arguments, and expressed intentions of the activists which are pushing the transgender and gender identification agenda forward. In chapter 3 he gives a voice to those who transitioned from their biological sex to their felt "internal gender", and who then detransitioned. These people This is a well-written, balanced, and sober analysis of the current cultural discussion concerning Gender Identity and Transgender sexuality. The author devotes an entire chapter (ch. 2) to presenting the claims, arguments, and expressed intentions of the activists which are pushing the transgender and gender identification agenda forward. In chapter 3 he gives a voice to those who transitioned from their biological sex to their felt "internal gender", and who then detransitioned. These people identified as a gender other than their biological sex and transitioned in order to bring their body into conformity with their internal sense of gender. They discovered, however, that transitioning did not solve the psychological and social problems that they experienced prior to transitioning. Anderson goes on to discuss just what it means to be a man and a woman (ch. 4), what is involved in sex reassignment (ch. 5), how this affects children (ch. 6), the relationship between sex, gender, and culture (ch. 7), and how that he covers in the earlier chapters has affected, and should affect, public policy (ch. 8).I highly recommend this book.
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  • Paul Herriott
    January 1, 1970
    The hype is real. Anderson has written the best book to date critiquing the transgender moment we are experiencing as a culture right now. Using a broad range of testimony, research, and pop culture, he explains the movement as the fruit of the sexual revolution, one that has ignored the results of studies and the victims it has created.
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  • Carl Di-Palma
    January 1, 1970
    an excellent book that exposes the ideology ( and lack of science) behind the transgender movement, but also acknowledges the deep distress of those who struggle with Gender Dysphoria, especially concerning de-transition.
  • Daniel
    January 1, 1970
    A well-written, thoughtful, and compassionate critique of transgender ideology.
  • Evan
    January 1, 1970
    This is a timely and well researched book. Ryan Anderson covers the issue from many angles with sympathy and compassion for those suffering from gender dysphoria.
  • Ira Therebel
    January 1, 1970
    Trans movement is a touchy subject but it shouldn't be. The problem is that it was taken over by some militant activists who turned it into a circus. They deny the importance of biological sex and believe that everything is about the very subjective gender identity. Because of this facilities that were divided into male and female based on biological differences are now supposed to be divided based on gender identity. Thus women are forced to accept people with male bodies in women sports, Trans movement is a touchy subject but it shouldn't be. The problem is that it was taken over by some militant activists who turned it into a circus. They deny the importance of biological sex and believe that everything is about the very subjective gender identity. Because of this facilities that were divided into male and female based on biological differences are now supposed to be divided based on gender identity. Thus women are forced to accept people with male bodies in women sports, jails, shelters, lockers etc. Sports aren't the most important one but the most obvious one where one sees how trans women are dominating women sports and breaking all the records while we don't see trans men doing the same. The existence of gender dysphoria is a fact but how best to deal with it in the society isn't all that clear because this is a pretty new subject. Only today's activists don't allow any discussions and consider every slight disagreement to be bigotry.This why this book is a great thing. It shows us problems with today's activism and alternative views. None of them is hateful to transgender people. It emphasizes many times how it is important to acknowledge and respect them. Negative reviews keep on mentioning that the author is catholic but not once did he use religion as argument in this book so I don't see why this is important.The book addresses many different topics such as biological difference between men and women, child development, people who had to detransition and legal issues. They are pretty well researched, logically written and again without any hate. He talks about many researches that don't agree with some of the arguments made by today's activists. Of course as some reviews mentioned these scientists were black listed, but it is kind of expected that they were demonized by the aggressive movement. This doesn't make their academic experience and studies any less important.I especially found it interesting to read about how call children as young as in pre school (!!) trans can be harmful as well as using puberty blockers. Watching what is happening today makes me happy that it was different when I was a teenager or I would be a very sad trans man today. While transitioning should definitely be an option since it is one thing that may help to many with gender dysphoria one shouldn't rush into it and also have therapy options to see if the issue can be solved without it. There is nothing wrong about looking for ways to solve a problem without physically modifying the body. Not that it should be forbidden to be done for people who decide that it is the right way to go. But that one should provide other options is well described in the chapter with the ones who detransitioned, even though they are being silenced by the activists today.Especially careful one should be with children who are still learning to understand gender. In many cases them thinking that they are of the opposite gender comes from simply not fitting into gender stereotypes. And this book emphasizes how important it is not to enforce these stereotypes and show them that there are many ways one can be as a boy and a girl. And I think that this is a wonderful message. Why would any feminist disagree? And while there are obvious biological differences they don't define how an individual should be. To be honest I didn't really understand how the chapter on female gender roles fit into this book but I didn't have any real problems with it.The last chapter on legal issues very well illustrates the problems that come with today's movement. They are why one should not be forced the view of the activists but still have a dialogue to make sure that problems are avoided and everyone's needs are considered. So this book was definitely a great alternative. I wish I could see more of these arguments in the mainstream. The more aggressive activists are and just silencing everyone the more I am turned away from them. The main reason why I became part of WalkAway is exactly this issue and left wing bullies.
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  • Earl Bell
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. Spoilers.When Harry Became Sally is a provocative, but flawed, work that social conservatives will likely champion as a thorough debunking of transgenderism, while social liberals will probably slander as a bigoted, anti-transgender screed. It is neither. Regardless of one’s position, Ryan Anderson’s book is an important addition to the discourse surrounding transgenderism precisely because so few works have critically evaluated the demands made by transgender activists and the 3.5 stars. Spoilers.When Harry Became Sally is a provocative, but flawed, work that social conservatives will likely champion as a thorough debunking of transgenderism, while social liberals will probably slander as a bigoted, anti-transgender screed. It is neither. Regardless of one’s position, Ryan Anderson’s book is an important addition to the discourse surrounding transgenderism precisely because so few works have critically evaluated the demands made by transgender activists and the present medical/psychological approaches to treating gender dysphoria on this level. Given the far-reaching philosophical, social, political, and scientific implications of this topic, the dearth of any meaningful debate on this topic is surprising. Until now, this absence has essentially allowed trans-activist thought and the current medical/psychological treatment methods to dominate the national consciousness by default. He is not always convincing, but Anderson does provide some valid reasons to question the status quo. For his willingness to engage such a sensitive and contentious subject, he is to be commended. It is important to note that Anderson draws a distinction between aggressive transgender activists and average transgender people, stating that it is the activists with which he takes umbrage, believing them unrepresentative of transgender people writ large. This distinction is important, he says, because at the center of this debate are adults and children who are in genuine need of appropriate psychological/medical care.Anderson spends much of the booking laying bare the radical ideas and internal contradictions inherent in transgender ideology, and questioning the current medical/psychological treatment of individuals with gender dysphoria. His main argument rests upon the idea that gender is the social expression of one’s sexed biology. While social and cultural forces may influence the manner in which gender is expressed, it remains inexorably linked to its biological foundation. The science is clear, Anderson says, men will always be biologically male just as women will always be biologically female, and no amount of hormone therapy or sex change operations can alter this reality.In this context, Anderson argues that the current psychological and medical treatment for those suffering with gender dysphoria is woefully misguided, and is based on an ideology that centers around affirming, or enabling, one’s subjective gender identity over their biology. So entrenched is the ideology of affirmation that the few practitioners who have bothered to probe the underlying reasons for a patient’s expressed gender identity, rather than simply affirming, have been subsequently removed from their positions. He cites the example of Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a leading expert on gender identity in Canada who helped author the entry on gender identity found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorder (DSM), essentially the diagnostic bible for mental health professionals. Zucker, who supports transitioning for adults, but advocates for caution when dealing with children was “abruptly fired” from his job as director of a Toronto gender identity clinic due to his cautionary stance with children. For his part, Anderson believes this method of affirmation amounts to “cooperating with a mental illness” and is not only unscientific, but also ineffective and harmful. He thinks medical and mental health professionals should instead be working to unravel the thoughts and ideas that underpin gender dysphoria and help the patient come to terms with the immutability of their gender and its link to biology.Anderson’s narrative detailing how these treatment methods have become common practice and remain largely unquestioned is perhaps the most alarming part of the book. According to him, powerful lobbying groups, like the virtuously named Human Rights Campaign (HRC), have worked to peddle various falsehoods about gender through a seductive and coercive ideological propaganda campaign. Trans-activists, he says, “are always changing their creed and expanding their demands…are absolutely closed off to contrary evidence: they call for the censure of honest researchers…refuse to give any consideration to competing interests of privacy or safety…[and] reject alternative therapies favored by parents or doctors.” This campaign, Anderson notes, has spawned a competitive form of virtue signaling whereby many politicians and businesses have rushed to enact aggressive policies that have helped enshrine transgender ideology into the social and institutional fabric of the nation, all under the guise of anti-discrimination policies.Anderson points out that many of these anti-discrimination policies go well beyond normal anti-discriminatory legislation like fair access to housing, voting rights, workplace harassment, etc., all of which Anderson supports as sound policy. Instead, he says, these policies and policy recommendations from lobbying groups involve forced adherence to a social ideology. Instances range from the expansion of sex to encompass gender identity in Title IX under President Obama to mandatory pronoun use (Facebook users currently can choose from a list of around 50 different gendered pronouns), to lobbying group recommendations that school officials hide a child’s “transgender status” from their parents unless compelled by law. In the most outrageous example, Anderson cites a 2017 conference panel on “Addressing Suicidality in Transgender Youth,” in which a social worker spoke of establishing partnerships with child protective services in several states in order to remove children from the home if the parents refused to accept that their child was transgender. Aside from its lobbying prowess, Anderson also broadly attributes the success of this ideological campaign to the masterful application of postmodern philosophy.It is worth observing that these trans-activist policies, and their underlying principles, have not only outraged social conservatives like Anderson, but have apparently drawn the ire from some social liberals as well. His final chapter details the formation of the “Hands Across the Aisle Coalition,” a group comprised of “radical feminists, lesbians, Christians and conservatives,” that are putting aside their ideological differences and “leveraging [their] collective resources to oppose the transgender agenda.” In one example, at a “Biology Isn’t Bigotry” panel discussion hosted by Anderson’s employer, the Heritage Foundation, he records a statement made by Mary Lou Singelton of the Women’s Liberation Front: “As a long-term leftist, I cannot believe the next sentence I’m about to say: I would like to thank the Heritage Foundation for making this conversation possible.” Singleton goes on describe the dangers posed by trans-activists: “Transgender ideology tells us there is no such thing as biological sex and robs us of our ability to name the class of people who suffer sex-based oppression. If we cannot name a phenomenon, we certainly cannot fight it. Gender ideology is harmful to women and girls.”Anderson’s book is by no means perfect, and for all its strengths, contains at least two major flaws that detract from its main conclusions: the one-sided presentation of evidence and the overreliance on controversial source material. These shortcomings mostly revolve around discussions of the science of transgenderism and are serious enough to make one question certain aspects of Anderson’s claims. He does compensate, somewhat, for these weaknesses through the use of multidisciplinary evidence and a handful of more mainstream studies on transgenderism that, taken together, manages to cast some doubt on the claims made by transgender activists and efficacy of current medical/psychological treatments of gender dysphoria. Unfortunately, though, the presence of these flaws does diminish the book’s power of persuasion, and as such, is unlikely to challenge one’s presuppositions. For a more in depth and critical review, please use the following link: https://www.amazon.com/When-Harry-Bec...
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  • Jennifer Hughes
    January 1, 1970
    I approached this book as someone deeply personally invested. I also know quite a few families in the trans community and have great respect and compassion for them. Should parents help a child with gender dysphoria transition socially or medically? It's an agonizing decision for most families. In this book, Ryan Anderson eloquently puts into words many of my personal concerns, questions, and ideas on the broader topic of the transgender moment. He is not "transphobic" or a "hater" but an I approached this book as someone deeply personally invested. I also know quite a few families in the trans community and have great respect and compassion for them. Should parents help a child with gender dysphoria transition socially or medically? It's an agonizing decision for most families. In this book, Ryan Anderson eloquently puts into words many of my personal concerns, questions, and ideas on the broader topic of the transgender moment. He is not "transphobic" or a "hater" but an important voice in the discussion, specifically regarding social and legal implications. With compassion and kindness for suffering individuals always at the forefront, he still exposes the flaws in activists' claims and shows how the growing wave of transgender ideology is affecting all of us through changes to social mores, medical/psychiatric treatment, and most importantly, to law. Ryan Anderson argues for some commonsense checks and pushback on this runaway agenda. He shares stories of people who have transitioned and detransitioned and the pain that journey in and out of the two genders has caused. I have serious concerns about medical best practices being driven by political agenda instead of studies and science. To ease a child's emotional feelings of discomfort, doctors unquestioningly perform interventions that may actually be harmful, which is antithetic to their code. Can we take a step back? Why do people feel any body-related dysphoria in the first place? How can a mental/emotional condition be treated in the most helpful and humane ways? It seems we have gone from 0-60 in the trans realm in just a couple of years without asking the deeper questions. When would the best course of medical action be to remove any healthy, functioning organ or limb? If someone feels, for instance, that a healthy leg should be amputated (this has happened before), would that be appropriate? Would we treat any other kind of dysphoria, like anorexia, by providing medical interventions which supported that patient's distorted worldview? Have you heard of "Snapchat dysphoria"? Look it up. I just learned about this condition where people become obsessed with how they look with their Snapchat filters. They become increasingly so unhappy with what they look like in real life that they believe they must physically create their skewed, filtered vision of themselves through plastic surgery. The ones who profit from these kinds of medical interventions are the plastic surgeons, Big Pharma, and other medical professionals who provide any "treatment" the patient desires, for the right price. Who has the individual's best interests in mind, and what treatments would truly be most appropriate for the health and happiness of the whole person? I believe we need to be willing to ask the hard questions and keep asking them.This book was an unequivocal 5 stars for me. I feel like Ryan Anderson says things much better than I can. I'd like to share a couple of passages and let him speak for himself:Pp. 172-3"Our transgender moment arose in part from a rebellion against the idea of innate differences between the sexes in disposition and preferences, on average and for the most part. We have seen efforts to stamp out those differences, in the belief that they are a product of social conditioning, artificial and unjust. A strain of radical feminism intersects with transgender ideology in the shared premise that gender has no real connection to biology and can be nullified or changed at will.An effective cultural response to transgender ideology entails recovering a sound cultural understanding of gender and sex differences. First, we must reject the concept of gender fluidity wherein every child has to choose a gender among numerous options--a burden that introduces confusion when children need clarity and guidance. Trying to make boys and girls the same, in a coercive androgyny, can also result in confusion and resentment. On the other hand, we needn't adopt the overly rigid stereotypes that might lead a boy to think he should be a girl because he is sensitive and artistic, or a girl to think she might really be a boy because she prefers sports over dolls. Acknowledging the richly diverse ways of being male and female can help children more readily identify with and accept their own embodiment.Getting the balance right is the work of an entire culture. For children, developing into a healthy understanding of their bodies and their sexuality is a delicate enterprise, fraught with difficulties even in the best circumstances. Transgender ideology makes the process much more difficult by destabilizing what David Cloutier calls the "sexual ecology." It challenges the normality of congruence between sex and gender simply because a small number of people have trouble reconciling themselves with their bodily sex. "To destabilize [the] default position of body/soul congruence," writes Cloutier, "is to allow exceptional cases to reshape the entire ecology.We should be tolerant--indeed, loving--toward those who struggle with their gender identity, but also be aware of the harm done to the common good, particularly to children, when transgender identity is normalized. Transgender activists are not merely asking for tolerance or kindness; they are demanding affirmation, not just from adults but from children and adolescents who are already challenged by the normal process of sexual development. Cloutier observers that "affirming and accommodating the transgender identity of one child will affect other children, in much the same way that gender stereotypes about alpha males and compliant females affect them." In a culture where transgender identities are not only affirmed but celebrated, everyone will be compelled to construct their own gender identity, unaided by a common understanding of sex differences and why they matter." p. 211First and foremost, as we advocate for the truth, we must be careful not to stigmatize those who are suffering. Many people who have detransitioned say they felt pressured to transition and are now being attacked from the political left for detransitioning. But many also say that people on the political right made them feel like misfits in society, and that's part of what led to their desire to transition in the first place. We must avoid adding to the pain experienced by people with gender dysphoria, while we present them with alternatives to transitioning. ...It isn't enough to highlight the risks and harms of social transition for young children, puberty blocking, cross-sex hormones, and sex reassignment surgery. Medical experts not blinded by a PC ideology must also work together to devise good standards of care for treating people--especially children--with gender dysphoria. ...with the primary goal of helping people find healthy alternatives to transitioning, so that they feel comfortable in their own skin. Local friends, if this book sounds interesting to you as well, you are welcome to borrow my copy.
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  • Tanja Berg
    January 1, 1970
    A few years ago I was on a road trip with my sister and her children. We had stopped at a gas station to use the restrooms. As we are washing our hands, a tall person with short hair and trucker overalls walks in. Unthinkingly, I opened the door to the restroom and asked "did we walk into the wrong one?". My sister, furious, "Tanja - she had BOOBS! If you ever question whether it is a man or a woman, look at the chest!" A few weeks later I was on a horseback-riding holiday in the Norwegian A few years ago I was on a road trip with my sister and her children. We had stopped at a gas station to use the restrooms. As we are washing our hands, a tall person with short hair and trucker overalls walks in. Unthinkingly, I opened the door to the restroom and asked "did we walk into the wrong one?". My sister, furious, "Tanja - she had BOOBS! If you ever question whether it is a man or a woman, look at the chest!" A few weeks later I was on a horseback-riding holiday in the Norwegian mountains. I walked into the common room and greeted the guests that had already arrived. One of them was the ugliest woman I had EVER seen. A wrinkled, long face. Frizzy black hair. Blue nail polish. Boobs. Hmm. Well, thinking back to my sister's advise, I categorized this person as "woman". Later in the evening, walking on a gravel path, down to the horses, I got talking with this person. She worked with train wagon maintenance, and had for 30 years. "That's an usual job for a woman", I thought. Then again, I've worked in male-dominated field for most of my career, so I shrugged and let it pass. During the first break, after a couple of hours on horseback, this woman strode down the field where the horses had been let loose to graze, spread her legs and took a piss standing. So much for listening to my sister's advise!Every evening during this holiday, this transgender person, would make a spectacular entrance for dinner in full evening gowns and gloves and make-up. The rest of us sat there in our jeans and t-shirts. The author of this book is conservative. I am very liberal and, according to a recent test, have pretty much exactly the same opinions as Bernie Sanders. If I had read about the author beforehand, I would not have bought the book. I am glad I did though, because it addresses issues that I have been concerned about since the transgender moment - movement - took full force: how is body mutilation a good thing? Why on earth are we letting children make life-altering decisions with consequences that they cannot possibly fathom or understand?I've also been mulling over the story of the botched circumcision that led one boy in a pair of twins without a penis, and being raised as a girl. In my high school psychology book this was presented as a success, as "nature over nurture". A few years later, I read " As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl" by John Colapinto and that story was quite different. The poor boy was uncomfortable with the gender he had been assigned all his life. You cannot make a boy into a girl. There are fundamental biological differences. With this is in mind, why is there such a positive focus around trying to help people who feel "trapped in the wrong body"? Is mutilating the physical sex attributes of the gender you were born with and putting some cosmetic, ill-functioning ones in its place, really going to help anything in the long run? If it would, go ahead. It does not. The suicide attempt rate of people with dysphoria is 41% over a life time. After sex-reassignment surgery, this does not increase. In fact, the rate of death by suicide after this is 19 times higher than in the general population. Hormone therapy and sex reassignment does not permanently alleviate these people's despair.In Norway I've read many recent articles on children wanting sex-reassignment. In Norway at least, you need to pass through quite a rigorous set of therapy sessions - unlike in the United States where some people are put on hormones after just two or three sessions. However, assigning puberty blockers and hormones to children - I cannot wrap my head around this being right. Children aren't allowed to drink or drive, but it's perfectly okay for an 8-year old to decide on puberty blockers? It's okay to let children make decisions that will make them infertile, at a time where they cannot possible know what this means? The damage done by the chemicals and hormones is in many cases irreversible. Children who are put on puberty blockers do not grow out of their body dysphoria in the same way most other children do. Up to 95% of children who identify with the other sex will grow out of it during puberty. Treating gender dysphoria with sex reassignment and hormones is like offering liposuction to anorexia nervosa patients. A cosmetic fix to deep-rooted psychological problems that are not helped by this severe and irreversible mutilation of their bodies. A woman on testosterone will have a deeper voice and a hair growth in unusual places even after she stops. These people need help, but not in the form of hormones and surgery. It's also a little odd how this trans-gender movement has been mixed up with LGB, which is about sexual orientation rather than sexual confusion. Love whomever you want, marry whomever you want, be anywhere on the scale from feminine to androgynous to masculine. Don't let yourself be hemmed by stereotypes. Accept yourself as you are. Cross dress if you like. However, if you think you are trapped in the wrong kind of body compared to your biological sex - go see a psychiatrist, not a surgeon.
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  • Mark Syron
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. What a book that focuses on propaganda and fear of transgender people. I found that although this was an easy read (not to large of words nor really interest even though I usually live for LGBT books) I found it to be an eye roll. Here are two reasons why.Whenever talking about crime it is always how men are imitating woman for the sole purpose of violating a woman. Will some crime happen under a new law such as trans individuals to use bathrooms/lockers/changing stalls as their gender Wow. What a book that focuses on propaganda and fear of transgender people. I found that although this was an easy read (not to large of words nor really interest even though I usually live for LGBT books) I found it to be an eye roll. Here are two reasons why.Whenever talking about crime it is always how men are imitating woman for the sole purpose of violating a woman. Will some crime happen under a new law such as trans individuals to use bathrooms/lockers/changing stalls as their gender identity? Yes, but here is the thing, these crimes would have been committed anyway. Why? Because the criminals who perpetrated the crime already had it in their head to do these crimes, they just thought that they could outsmart the system by claiming to be a woman. If history is taken of those individuals a transgender history would and have been absent. And notice how it is always men being the perpetrators. Even though trans men are just 'woman' entering the 'opposite sex room'. A woman can also be perpetrators. Men can be perpetrators. Not once did it mention the potential harm that trans woman could face if entering the men's room. A female presenting trans woman could be harmed but notice how the book doesn't even touch that aspect.I like how his research doesn't even touch the APA or any other accredited research besides Zucker, as another review has pointed out that I did not know, actually support using hormone blockers. There is no words from trans people or those who work with trans people who have seen happy and healthy lives that have come from this condition. I know that I, as a trans man, have had my difficulties but that has come from the fear, sadness, and wish that I was anything but trans. I also had gender dysphoria fixated on body parts that have only been alleviated with ways to create the opposite sex characteristics. I tried converting myself and I talked about it lengths but all that it came to was yes I am trans. And I am happier now than I was ever before the transition. Where is that story? Or of the ones who transitioned without having any other conditions? Or of my doc who knows people who have gone through excellent transitions? Not a single story of those people made the book.Now there is something I must say. I am apart of the crowd that says you must have dysphoria to be trans. Why? Because then what would be the point of transiting if you were already happy in the body you have. If you had even just a little bit of GD you might consider yourself trans and then I would agree and say yes you are trans. GD is absolute the driving factor. So, I agree that there are MTFs and FTMs and maybe even if the person claims to be nonbinary as long as of the person has dysphoria. Being fluid through genders is something that I don't see any backing to.Overall, not a good book that hopes to discredit the trans community.
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  • Josh Bishop
    January 1, 1970
    A thoughtful, thorough, clear critique. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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