When a movement works hard to silence people who are simply sharing their experiences, it is probably hiding something. Or ignoring something.
Because, of course, the answer to bad or untrue ideas isn’t to shut them down. The answer is always more speech.
We all benefit from allowing everyone to share their opinions freely, creating a civil dialogue where lies and bad ideas can be rooted out, and we can all pursue the truth together.
So, when activists are determined to silence anyone who voices concern over facts that contradict activist ideology, it’s an indication that the activists believe that group’s perspective will shatter their arguments.
If you need an example, look no further than transgender activists in the past year.
Any group or person that shares a perspective even remotely critical of transgender ideology faces social media harassment or, in some cases, even censorship. Here are three disturbing instances of this happening in just the past few months.
1. A Major Newspaper Censored a Female Athlete
Common sense tells us that males generally have a physical advantage over females in athletics. Yet, in Connecticut, two boys have won 15 women’s track championship titles between 2017 and 2019—titles previously held by nine different girls.
One athlete who lost out on championship titles is Chelsea Mitchell. Chelsea lost four girls’ state championships and two all-New England awards because she was forced to compete against male athletes.
Chelsea decided to do something about it.
She, along with three other female athletes, filed a lawsuit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. Chelsea also wrote an opinion piece for USA Today to talk about the psychological toll competing in unfair competition takes on female athletes.
Then, Chelsea was censored.
USA Today, which originally agreed to publish Chelsea’s article, edited her words without telling her, because activists complained that they were “hurtful.” Why?
Because Chelsea used the word “male” to describe the athletes who dominated her competitions.
That’s not hurtful—it’s a scientific fact. It’s the truth that these athletes are male. And it’s the most relevant fact when discussing the issue of fairness in women’s sports. What an athlete believes about their gender is not relevant to which sex that athlete competes against. Their biological sex is.
Activists ensnared in transgender ideology want to control the language we use. Because, if our language is logical and accurate, like Chelsea’s article, it exposes the truth: that biology matters. For activists who repeat slogans like “trans women are women,” this is problematic.
Unfortunately, USA Today caved to these activists and edited Chelsea’s words. You can read Chelsea’s full, unedited article here.
2. Book burning? Vendors Banned Books Critically Analyzing Transgender Ideology
Over the last several years, we’ve seen the rise of what some have called digital book burnings. Books, research works for academic journals, and other scholarship are erased from the digital landscape. Books are removed from online stores. Articles are retracted.
They’re thrown on the digital pyre. But why? In some form or another, the authors have reached the wrong conclusions, according to today’s elites and activists.
No book may be a better case study of this than Abigail Shrier’s book stating the facts on transgender ideology and its effect on teen girls: Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.
And the story of censorship goes back to the very research Shrier relied upon to write the book.
In a 2018 paper, Brown University assistant professor Lisa Littman argued that the spike in teens identifying as transgender could be due to the significant influence of two forces: peer groups and social media. Littman—who coined the term “rapid-onset gender dysphoria”—had an article about her study removed from the university website.
Littman’s research struck Shrier. In 2020, she published Irreversible Damage.
Target retail stores pulled the book from their shelves after tweets were posted denouncing its supposed “harmful rhetoric.” Amazon joined in, refusing to let her publisher advertise the book on its site.
One professor of English encouraged her Twitter followers “to steal [the] book and burn it on a pyre.”
Perhaps most damning, the ACLU’s Deputy Director for Transgender Justice tweeted that the “book is a dangerous polemic” and that “[s]topping the circulation of this book and [others like it] is 100% a hill I will die on.”
In a recent article published in the journalist Bari Weiss’s Substack newsletter, Shrier highlighted another attack on the book.
After a favorable review of the book was posted at Science-Based Medicine, thousands commented, many demanding that the website remove the review. The review, whose author Shrier notes is a respected physician, was soon retracted by the website.
And in the latest round of censorship, the American Booksellers Association apologized for sending a copy of the Irreversible Damage to its members. The organization said it was a “terrible” and “serious, violent incident.” Really.
Shrier writes in her article that the “silent” support she has felt throughout the process from people who share her concerns but feel they cannot speak up. But, she says, at some point, “[t]hat’s just not good enough.”
Shrier is not the only one to have a book targeted by today’s book burners. Scholar Ryan T. Anderson’s book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, was removed from Amazon entirely.
But even they aren’t the only targets of censorship.
3. Detransitioners Faced Backlash for Telling Their Story on TV
A group of young people shared their story on CBS’s 60 Minutes.
That, in and of itself, shouldn’t be a problem. But these people were “detransitioners”—people who “transitioned” to living as the opposite-sex with surgeries and hormone-suppressing drugs but who later regretted their decisions, and reverted to living as their biological sex.
In a healthy society, we would welcome the unique perspectives of all people into the debate. And we would view the growing trend of people detransitioning, especially if they made the decision to live as the opposite sex when they were teens, as a warning sign.
But we live in “cancel culture” where anything remotely critical of transgender ideology is criticized.
Many activists and left-leaning organizations criticized 60 Minutes for their interview. The LGBTQ activist group GLAAD took to twitter to blast 60 Minutes, calling the segment “untrue” and “shameful.”
But what they’re calling “untrue” are the words of the detransitioners interviewed in the segment. And aren’t we supposed to allow people to share their lived experience?
The stories shared on the 60 Minutes segment were harrowing. They represent a growing problem, and they deserve to be heard. And yet, LGBTQ activists are calling it “dangerous.” Transgender activist Laverne Cox said the segment was “unethical and irresponsible.”
But if you watch the full segment, you’ll notice how CBS bent over backwards to frame the transgender movement in a positive light. The show begins by citing so-called “anti-trans” legislation in states like Arkansas, which simply protect children from being put on a path towards puberty blockers and hormone-suppressing drugs. Host Lesley Stahl also spends much of the segment interviewing a transgender-identifying psychologist and several pro-transgender doctors.
Not to mention that Lesley Stahl even released a 5-minute video all but apologizing for her segment, emphasizing that the interviews she conducted with detransitioners were in no way meant to delegitimize the transgender movement.
It’s clear that activists were never concerned with unfair reporting or having the transgender movement cast in a bad light. They’re upset about the true stories of detransitioners being included at all.
Transgender ideology is just one of several topics that seem to be “off limits” today. Anyone who shares an opinion about these issues outside of a certain worldview risks being harassed, attacked, and even censored.
This should concern anyone who values the freedom of speech.
Instead of having concrete discussions about the ideas behind and the implications of gender identity ideology, its proponents move to censor those who differ.
If they have to censor opposing perspectives and opinions, how strong must their arguments be?
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