Trans

Wellesley College Activists Protested Author Alice Dreger for Being Transphobic, Even Though She's Not

"Where were these people getting their ideas, I wondered, about gender identity development, about the supposed gender binaries of the world, and about me?"

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Wellesley
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Alice Dreger, an historian and bioethicist who resigned from Northwestern University after administrators censored her writing, spoke to students at Wellesley College earlier this month. Her visit provoked a sizeable protest from activists who view her as an enemy of the transgender community, even though Dreger's views are not remotely transphobic.

"When you have someone like this being brought to campus, it's very upsetting for us because we're not widely recognized by society, or even just within the student body," Mads Casolari, a Wellesley student, told The Wellesley News. "The student body's getting a lot better about being accepting of trans people and using gender-neutral language, but even then there's a lot of exclusion."

Activists circulated an email claiming that Dreger promotes negative stereotypes about trans people and that it was irresponsible for the Wellesley Freedom Project—a Koch-funded effort to bring an ideologically diverse range of speakers to campus—to feature her. During the event, which took place on February 13, the activists gathered in a hallway outside the room where Dreger was giving her remarks. They did not attempt to shut down the event. Their signs said things like, "Trans Women Are Women!" and "Trans sibs belong."

Given the reaction, one might expect Dreger—author of the excellent Galileo's Middle Finger, a book about social justice activism's frequently hostile relationship with objective science—to harbor views like those of the conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, who thinks being transgender is a mental illness. But Dreger believes no such thing. As she wrote in a blog post about the Wellesley event:

Apparently, [the activist students] had been led to believe I am a sworn enemy of transgender rights. So, it must have been confusing when I explained that I am against the state determining what our legal gender identities are, that I support all mature individuals determining their social and legal gender identities, and that I believe medical insurance (including public insurance) should pay for transgender interventions if an informed, consenting person believes she or he will be helped by them.

Nevertheless, Dreger was smeared as a supporter of "gender conversion therapy," which led to this exchange during the event:

Earlier, in the Q&A after my talk, one of the protesters who had bothered to come in to it asked me whether it was true I believed in "gender conversion" therapy. I asked what this was supposed to mean. The questioner said it meant trying to convince a child that her gender is really that which matches her natal sex, not what she has declared.

My reply was that if a female child came to a "gender clinic" and said she was a boy, I think it is quite reasonable—indeed, clinically responsible—to ask her why she feels that way. If she says she thinks she is a boy because she wants to grow up to enter a traditional-male field—say construction work—and wants to marry a woman, it makes sense to explain to her that girls can grow up to be women construction workers who marry women. Was that conversion therapy? It seemed to me otherwise. (Good ole-fashioned feminism. And good clinical care.)

Where were these people getting their ideas, I wondered, about gender identity development, about the supposed gender binaries of the world, and about me?

Where indeed? Dreger noted that some of her critics have set up fake social media accounts to impersonate her—she has occasionally been accused of saying things that she never actually said. Thankfully, the talk, and the subsequent conversation with the protesters, gave Dreger the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions.

"All in all, I think the engagement at the Wellesley protest went well, even if it was an ironic lesson in the social construction of identity," Dreger wrote. "A number of students came up to me to say they had really had their minds opened by realizing what they're told about someone might not at all be true. A few told me they were planning to push back against the problem of what amounts to falsehood-based activism."

That's the benefit of allowing controversial speakers to visit campus and share their perspectives—even if some students find them offensive. The offended might discover they were wrong to feel that way, or that the situation is more complicated than it appeared.

NEXT: At CPAC, a Pitch to End the Drug War: 'It's a Parkland, Florida, Every Two Days'

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  1. and that I believe medical insurance (including public insurance) should pay for transgender interventions if an informed, consenting person believes she or he will be helped by them.

    Well, at least I have one reason to dislike this speaker.


    1. A number of students came up to me to say they had really had their minds opened by realizing what they’re told about someone might not at all be true.

      Oh wow, their minds must truly be blown by this revelation.

      And this, in a nutshell, is why no one gives a fuck about what college aged people think.

    2. “pay for transgender interventions”?

      More changes to the language. An intervention is a hostile act to force behavior changes NOT wanted by the subject/victim of the intervention.
      How can someone be informed and consenting to an intervention?

      She does not make clear if she means in the same way, and at the same rate as other elective surgeries or counseling services.

      1. Not the actual reason why I personally find the statement stupid, but accurate enough I suppose.

        I’m talking about their zero understanding of what ‘insurance’ actually is, or what 2nd order consequences that might have, combined with their ignorance of how many reassignment surgeries end with suicide.

      2. An intervention is a hostile act to force behavior changes NOT wanted by the subject/victim of the intervention.
        How can someone be informed and consenting to an intervention?

        I think it’s a bit of intentional objectivism. When referring to medical procedures I’ve always considered intervention to mean intervening in a negative or deleterious physiological or psychological progression. Further, considering her lack of specific indication of a preferred outcome, she seems equally, if not more, open to the notion of a magic wand curing people of their gender identity issues without altering their body as she does to any sort of existing process by which people are altered without treating or curing them.

        In any event I don’t disagree that she’s being intentionally vague.

  2. …even though Dreger’s views are not remotely transphobic.

    Alas, that would be judged by the eye of the beholder.

    1. Too true. If she is not rabidly pro, she must be anti-.

  3. Just another clear example of why all social media should be banned.

  4. At least the Tide Pod-munchers didn’t shut down the tranny-hater. Maybe the pendulum is swinging away from Millennial intolerance.

    1. Hah!

  5. what amounts to falsehood-based activism

    Somehow, punching people in the head and setting fire to private property strikes me as both outside the bounds of, and more intrinsically important than “falsehood-based activism”.

    1. This kid is going to grow up and realize that most activism relies on lies, but at least they’re learning this lesson relatively sooner than their peers I suppose.

  6. My reply was that if a female child came to a “gender clinic” and said she was a boy-

    WRONG. And said he was a boy.

    1. The scientific consensuses is clear on the matter. A boy who wear dresses suffers from transvestism, and he needs psychiatric help, but she is a normal girl if she also wants a surgeon to remove her penis and testicles. This is one reason I don’t have much faith in psychiatry.

  7. Look, just because people don’t like you it doesn’t mean that they’re racist or sexist or whatever, it could just be that you’re an asshole. And stop with the goddamned “phobia” shit. A phobia is an irrational *fear* of something, not liking assholes is neither irrational nor a fear.

  8. There is simply the fact that it is acceptable to label all dissenters about transgenderism as “transphobic” is toxic to having any rational discourse about the subject. When you start with the idea that anyone who disgrees with your point of view is approaching it from irrational fear, then it is easy for the activists to be dogmatic about it.

    As well as the tremendous logical contradictions from the pro transgender side, such as the difference betwern gender identity and biological sex.

  9. When you start with the idea that anyone who disagrees with your point of view is approaching it from irrational fear …

    You’re probably projecting.

    1. You’re probably a child, unskilled in debate, unfamiliar with propositional logic (or any other kind of actual logic), stupid, ignorant, stubborn, emotional, or some combination of those things.

  10. Wellesly students are low-hanging retard fruit.

  11. Men and women are identical, except when a boy thinks he is a girl, and then all the old stereotypes must be obeyed. idiots

  12. Headline Every Second of Every Day
    “College Activists Protested Person for Being A Nazi, Even Though She’s Not”

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