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How a pro-trans journalist became one of trans activism's biggest targets.
At first glance, Jesse Singal seems indistinguishable from your average journalist on the Left. He dutifully pulls the lever for Democrats every election. He lives in Brooklyn—not the working-class immigrant Brooklyn I’m from, but hipster Brooklyn, where lefty podcasts proliferate and the DSA draws its ranks. He supports left-wing economic policies. He is in full support of LGB rights. He supports trans-identifying adults and uses their pronouns. He is part of the only 21% of Americans that support allowing trans-identifying adolescents to be put on puberty blockers, taking the position that the decision should be made on a case-by-case basis.
From that position, one would expect Jesse Singal to be a hero to trans activism. To support puberty blockers means to take a position held by only a fifth of Americans, whereas double that number of Americans say puberty blockers are never acceptable in any circumstance, while another fifth say that they are usually unacceptable—outnumbering the pro-blocker crowd three-to-one. To take such a stance also requires ignoring the simple question of how, if gender isn’t determined by physical attributes, as trans activists say, why anyone would even need so-called “gender-affirming care” to begin with.
Yet Jesse Singal is actually one of the most reviled figures of today’s trans movement. His Twitter feed is constantly spammed with comments from trans activists that claim he is complicit in “trans genocide”. He—a Jew—is regularly called a Nazi and compared to Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann. A trans-identifying horror writer has fixated on him and frequently tweets out disturbing fantasies mentioning him by name. The photo at the beginning of this post is of a profile created for him on TransgenderMap, a site that, among other things, documents critics of trans activism.1 The profile says that
Jesse Singal is an American podcaster and cultural critic. He is a key figure in laundering anti-transgender extremism into mainstream media and a prominent activist in America’s transphobic moral panic.
After starting his career within the progressive movement, Singal found success criticizing progressive public policy, media, and medicine. Singal is one of his generation’s most tenacious critics of progressive movements that benefit transgender people and gender diverse youth.
Considering that Singal is more pro-trans than the vast majority of Americans, the fact that the site calls him one of trans activism’s biggest critics shows just how out-of-touch the site’s creator—and most of the very-online trans movement—is with public opinion. He’s had this reputation ever since he penned a cover story in the left-leaning magazine The Atlantic back in 2018 titled “When Children Say They’re Trans”. The article’s subheading states that there are “no easy answers”. The article runs around ten-thousand words long, interspersing a series of vignettes of trans-identifying teens and their mental health crises with details about the inner machinations of “youth gender medicine”. The article states the fact that most children who identify as trans will naturally grow out of it, while also not ruling out hormonal or surgical procedures for the ones that don’t.
Immediately after the article ran, The Atlantic and Singal became embroiled in a backlash. However, it came not from those angry over Singal saying that there are cases where he believes hormones or surgery might help. It was from his own side, and the backlash was over him featuring desisters and detransitioners at all. In other words, trans activists did not want him to feature anyone who might break from the narrative that a trans-identifying child could be anything but trans. When taken to its conclusion, the narrative becomes that anyone who doesn’t just automatically hand out puberty blockers or perform irreversible life-altering surgeries on teenagers that ask for it is complicit in trans genocide. Considering that the vast majority of dysphoric children simply age out of it, this narrative will—and has already—permanently maimed thousands of young people, especially those on the autism spectrum.
A mention of his article in the Columbia Journalism Review claims that
Controversial stories like Jesse Singal’s cover story for The Atlantic, on how parents of transgender teens approach their desire to personally or medically transition, come to mind. The story was fact checked, but according to many readers, journalists, and activists in the trans community, was transphobic—and all wrong. The difference between fact and truth is yet another example of why newsrooms, and publishing houses, desperately need to invest in employing and representing diverse writers, editors, agents, and fact checkers alike.
The story was fact checked, and activists in “the trans community”2—not endocrinologists, not psychiatrists—decried it. But of course they would. This is a movement that does not tolerate any deviation from its orthodoxies, chief of which is that the sex one identifies with can never be questioned—even for kids.
The fact that Singal is on the Left is far more dangerous to trans activism than if he was on the Right, which explains why he is the target of far more vitriol than most right-wingers. When conservatives sound the alarm, those on the other side write it off as “right-wing propaganda”. But Singal cannot be dismissed as easily.3 Over the next few years, Singal continued to cover issues like puberty blockers, including whistleblowing on a study where researchers found that puberty blockers didn’t improve the health of trans-identifying adolescents—but had lied and published a paper saying that they did.
The reason I’m discussing Jesse Singal today is because of a Twitter brouhaha a few days back. He explains what all went down in this post, but I’ll summarize. Last Thursday, he tweeted a screenshot of a podcast transcript that seemed to imply that a pediatrician prescribed hormones to a trans-identifying teen, Cam Ogden, after a ten-minute consultation.
However, it turned out that the podcast got the details about that specific case wrong. While there are clinics that will prescribe puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones on the first visit, Ogden did not receive hormones until several months of doctor's visits. So after Ogden called Singal a liar simply because Singal took the podcast’s info at face value, Singal deleted the post and made a new post explaining the situation.
And then someone replies and tells Jesse Singal to kill himself.
Noah Kulwin isn’t just a random someone. He’s a somewhat well-known leftist podcaster and an editor of the leftist anti-Zionist publication Jewish Currents. Most people who toe the line of Twitter’s Terms of Service tend to hide behind anonymous accounts, yet here Kulwin was, telling a fellow lefty journalist to commit suicide over one out-of-context podcast screenshot.
I am a free speech absolutist, and that includes the right to tell others to commit suicide. One cannot be prominent in the public square without attracting detractors, so “number of death threats or calls to commit suicide” is a good proxy for how well-known someone is. As my public presence grows, I expect to get quite a few threats myself, especially as I am not afraid to pen polemics on the sacred-est cows in our cultural landscape.
So the issue here isn’t the legality of calls to suicide—which I assume Singal is used to getting by now—but the fact that someone running in the lefty circles Singal runs in is brazen enough to openly state his desire to see Singal dead. And as Kulwin’s tweet began to go viral, Singal was flooded with messages telling him to just “do it”. Kulwin continued to mock Singal for days afterward as the mob piled further onto him.
Now, as I mentioned in the beginning of this piece, Jesse Singal is a pro-trans lefty journalist. Yet it’s not right-wingers making his life hell. Over the past five years, he has been hounded by activists that claim that he is responsible for trans genocide, that he has blood on his hands for even daring to question the orthodoxy that all children know what sex they truly are, and that he should kill himself.
All the polling shows how unpopular trans activists’ goals are: puberty blockers for adolescents, men in women’s sports, etc. There’s a palpable sense of desperation: They don't have public opinion or science on their side, so they resort to hoping that their enemies—or even allies that don’t completely agree with every last bit of the ideology—die.
Yet there is a silver lining to all this. Well-meaning liberals are increasingly seeing just how crazed the modern trans movement is. When even milquetoast lefty journalists like Singal are told to kill themselves for raising objections to handing out puberty blockers without question, that’s when many on the Left see that it is less a movement and more a cult. One that will destroy allies that do not fall perfectly in line with its rigid beliefs. One that pushes irreversible hormonal and surgical procedures on adolescents as a way of “affirmation” even while claiming gender has nothing to do with physical features. One that suppresses the stories of detransitioners. One that demands the end of single-sex spaces. One that has severely overplayed its hand in the public square. And over the past three years, the backlash has been swift.
While the person who runs the site is a trans activist, I’ve found TransgenderMap a great source to look for the opposite side. Check this page out for a list of good writers.
There is no such thing as a “trans community” consensus. Even within trans activism, there are those who believe that one must feel gender dysphoria to be trans, and thus draw a distinction between “real trans people” and “transtrenders”. These people are known as transmedicalists, and are ostracized by the larger trans activist groups. And perhaps most surprising of all, there are people that identify as trans while also denying trans ideology.
The same attacks happened to Dr. Lisa Littman, the medical professor who noticed that clusters of teenagers in her affluent Rhode Island town were suddenly claiming to be trans. Dr. Littman knew that historically, most cases of gender dysphoria came from young boys, so it was quite the shock that it became mostly teenage girls suddenly identifying as trans, especially those that never displayed any dysphoria in early childhood. And not only that, but trans identification in some friend groups reached over seventy times the expected distribution. She coined the term rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) and published it in the medical journal PLOS One—before receiving a tidal wave of backlash.