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The rage behind Transgender Map An activist media ecosystem enabled Andrea James

A Pride parade in London (Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

A Pride parade in London (Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)


November 21, 2023   9 mins

Andrea James used to be a respectable, mainstream figure within the trans rights movement. A transgender woman herself, she was (and is) a film producer who carved out an important niche in the very early days of the internet: one of her sites dates back to 1999. Her mission back then was uncontroversial, by today’s standards. She provided “a valuable resource for trans women and men navigating social, legal, and medical transition in the late 1990s and early 2000s” according to a veteran of trans activism, who knows James personally.

By the time I became aware of her, in 2014, she had become notorious in circles where sex research and journalism overlap. What appears to have curdled her is the work of Ray Blanchard, the sex researcher who proposed the theory of autogynephilia, which posits that some trans women are motivated to transition by sexual arousal at the thought of being a woman. It is seen by some trans people as offensive because, in their view, it pathologises and/or sexualises their identity. An apparently smaller group of individuals, most famously Anne Lawrence, believe it accurately describes their own experiences.

Back in the Noughties, Blanchard and the psychology professor J. Michael Bailey — who popularised Blanchard’s ideas in his 2003 book The Man Who Would Be Queen — became the subjects of a smear campaign that, whatever one thinks of the theory, became abusive. Andrea James was one of the worst offenders. Her behaviour has been well-documented by the medical historian and bioethicist Alice Dreger, who in a 2006 blog post observed that “Ms. James was notable for the way she decided to go after Bailey’s children to extract revenge. She posted on the internet photographs of Bailey’s daughter and labeled her a ‘cock-starved exhibitionist.’”

After she published her blog post, Dreger described in an update how James sent a series of hostile emails, including one referring to her five-year-old son as a ‘precious womb turd’: “She also came to my departmental office (I was not there) and then emailed me, subject line ‘Mommy Knows Best,’ saying, ‘Sorry I missed you the other day. Your colleagues seem quite affable, and not as fearful as you. […] Bad move, Mommy. […] We’ll chat in person soon’.”

These incidents are described in more detail in Dreger’s book Galileo’s Middle Finger, published in 2015, by which point James’s influence appears to have waned. I began reporting on youth gender medicine around that time, and I didn’t get any sense that other prominent transactivists, or LGBT groups, took James seriously. Her name didn’t come up as someone you should talk to, if you wanted to better understand these issues. So why, a few years ago, did she experience a partial reversal in her fortunes?

It all started in 2018, when The Atlantic published a cover story about the debate over youth gender transition — written by me. The story included quotes from a number of people, including teens, who explained how profoundly transitioning had benefited them. However, it also included quotes from detransitioners, and dug into some of the controversy over youth transition. James was outraged that I would shine a light on the subject’s nuances, trade-offs and difficult questions. From some trans activists’ points of view, it is settled science that youth gender medicine works — indeed, saves lives. To suggest otherwise is heresy.

Because of that view, plenty of people criticised the article, some harshly. But James’s response was something else. She was so outraged that she launched a Kickstarter called “The Transphobia Project”. It went live about a year after the publication of my article — which, in the FAQ section, she called “one of the most disgraceful moments in American journalism this century”, and credited with motivating her entire endeavour. As for the endeavour itself, she described it as “an interactive data visualization of the platforms and people creating biased content about gender identity and expression”. James explained how it would work: “Any time someone publishes media on these topics, a score called a t-index is generated for that work. That t-index also gets applied to the creator, any co-authors or editors, the platform where it appeared, and the organizations that support that platform. … Those with a high t-index become more prominent on the chart.”

And yet, nowhere on her Kickstarter does James clarify how her system would determine someone’s transphobia. Indeed, “appearing on the chart does not necessarily mean a person or organisation is transphobic.” In fact, if you look past the various buzzwords, it’s very hard to figure out what, exactly, the then-proposed project would do, other than show how various writers and editors are connected via the publications they work for (hardly a state secret). Yet despite the vagueness of The Transphobia Project’s actual, well, project, James enthuses on her fundraising appeal that it “will help us identify and expose bias, and maybe even get a few people fired along the way!”

When The Transphobia Project’s Kickstarter launched, Donald Trump was still president, and liberal institutions were understandably preoccupied with his frequently ugly attempts to get journalists harassed and fired. James’s project didn’t hide the fact that it had similar goals, but, perhaps because James was going to target morally bad journalists for harassment and firing, rather than morally good ones, a cohort of progressives decided to hold her up as a champion in the noble fight against transphobia.

Kickstarter, for example, highlighted The Transphobia Project on its “featured projects” page, and published an article about it in the official Kickstarter Magazine by Rebecca Hiscott. In Axios, the respected tech writer Ina Fried published an article headlined, “Exclusive: Using data to track transphobia in media”. It was effectively a press release. The website Journalism.co.uk published a similarly hagiographic writeup by Daniel Green, which was subsequently promoted by Harvard’s Nieman Lab, one of the most important media-criticism institutions in the country.

None of the articles mentioned that the woman they were championing had once publicly called her enemy’s young daughter a “cock-starved exhibitionist”. None reached out to me for comment, despite James noting that my article had inspired the whole project (though Green, to be fair, posted part of my response at the bottom of his article after I complained). Nor did they interrogate James’s self-professed credentials. (I contacted all the authors — as well as Mike Allen, cofounder of Axios — to ask why they had failed to dig up James’s history of intimidating behaviour, and whether they planned any followup. I didn’t hear back from any, save for a brief note from a Journalism.co.uk editor who didn’t respond to my queries except to note that they wouldn’t be writing about James further.)

A close read of James’s proposal, combined with knowledge of her background, raised serious questions about whether she had the experience or technical chops necessary to pull off The Transphobia Project. And yet various outlets produced prime examples of a growing genre of journalism, geared not at establishing the truth, but at showing you’re on the right side of a raging controversy.

Probably partly because of this coverage, James’s fundraising was successful: 252 backers provided her with $23,302, more than ten times her $2,000 goal. The estimated delivery date, still visible on her Kickstarter, was July 2019. More than four years on, the Transphobia Project still doesn’t exist, and there is no sign James will deliver on her nebulous promises.

But even if The Transphobia Project remains unrealised, James has been busy. In the past four years, she has vastly expanded and updated her website, Transgender Map. And what she has added is not more data analysis of transphobic networks, but rather shockingly detailed webpages on what appears to be every enemy she has accumulated in recent years — an ever-growing list. These pages include personal information not only about them, but also about family members who are almost always wholly uninvolved in the fight over sex and gender.

The page dedicated to one editor at a mainstream site — who doesn’t appear to ever have written anything about transgender issues, but has edited pieces James dislikes — not only lists their spouse’s name but is, in fact, one of the spouse’s top Google results. The journalist Helen Lewis, a friend of mine, said that her page initially included photos from her first wedding, which James took from Flickr. When Lewis made the page private, James noted the change. Indeed, she seems to keep a very close eye on how her victims respond to their pages. Many of the entries also include caricatures that James has commissioned, likely at considerable cost, given the sheer number of them. In one of the creepiest cases I found, James commissioned a cartoon of not only my podcast co-host, Katie Herzog, but also her wife, who is unconnected to any of this. UnHerd also has its own page, listing many of its contributors and editors.

Many of the people featured have been deeply disturbed by it. “Does anyone know who runs the TransgenderMap website?” asked Prisha S, a detransitioner, on Twitter. “There are web pages about detransitioners with personal info and hate. The page about me is the longest. Whoever runs it seems to hate me a lot. It’s freaky, honestly. Can anything be done?”

Being featured didn’t really bother me initially. But I did become concerned when I received an upset email from my brother asking why the site was showing up near the top of his search results. It transpires James had compiled the most detailed biography of me that exists on the internet, the vast majority of which had nothing to do with my output on youth gender transition. Bringing my family into her perceived conflict with me crossed what felt like a line that would be obvious to most people. The page included the full names of my mother, my father, both my brothers, and everything she could find about all of our work histories. She even included the date my mother died. While accuracy isn’t James’s strong suit — at one point my page stated I am half-Hindu — it felt like an intimidation tactic: Look how much I know about you.

Recall that one of James’s goals of the Transphobia Project was “get[ting] a few people fired along the way”. The updated version of Transgender Map seems to be operating with very similar motives: the pages seem designed to trigger negative personal and professional repercussions.

“The first time my 11-year-old daughter googled me, this was the first thing that came up,” said Lisa Selin Davis, a friend of mine who has also written at length about gender identity and youth transition. “It includes the names of my children and two family members… It’s designed to silence and humiliate us. I can handle it, but it’s a little heartbreaking to me that my kid had to see this instead of anything else about me.”

Another one of James’s victims is Paul Garcia-Ryan. He is a therapist who trained at a leading gender-affirming clinic in New York City. He is concerned about the quality of care that gender dysphoric youth receive and is seeking to improve it. He recently spoke at the first conference held by the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM), a group with similar aims, in New York. (I was in attendance as well.) This alone was enough to rouse James’s ire, and soon Garcia-Ryan discovered his newly published page, which falsely describes him as an “anti-transgender activist” and explicitly instructs any minors who find themselves in his care to break off their therapy with him.

“Efforts to damage the reputations of clinicians creates a chilling effect amongst medical and mental health professionals, deterring them from speaking up, even when their concerns are grounded in legitimate scientific, medical, and ethical considerations,” Garcia-Ryan said in an email. “Clinicians hold an enormous responsibility and thoughtful work with gender dysphoria requires professionals to be courageous and stand firm in their clinical integrity.”

James has targeted a number of other responsible and careful clinicians in the field of youth gender medicine. She has also created a page for Gordon Guyatt, a legend within the field of medical research. He is one of the founders of evidence-based medicine, a (genuinely) lifesaving movement to improve the quality of medical research. Because Guyatt spoke at SEGM, he’s now a transphobe, according to the unerring moral judgment of Andrea James. He is tarred as an “anti-transgender activist” — ironic, given that when I asked him about the claim that questioning the evidence for transgender medicine is itself transphobic, he replied: “You’re doing harm to transgender people if you don’t question the evidence.”

But James’s website is more about rage than reason. Really, all it takes to land oneself on it is to have said something publicly that she disagrees with, or to have associated, in any way, with any institution or any person she dislikes. For example, she has a page dedicated to a European academic — a far-Left trans man who couldn’t be more in favour of trans people’s dignity and right to medically transition — simply because he has published some (rather excellent) work criticising certain mainstream strains of trans activism, including on this website. This is someone who has dedicated years of his life to radical trans activism, and now his second-highest search result in Incognito mode on Google Chrome is a webpage that suggests he is enabling transphobia.

Garcia-Ryan’s page ranks highly if you search his name, too. That’s the whole point: to scare people off talking about this issue. I’m telling you a tiny fraction of the stories I’ve heard from individuals targeted by James, many of whom don’t want to come forward. In short, very little has changed since Alice Dreger published her first long expose of the Michael Bailey affair back in 2008: “Almost universally those who wrote to me [about their run-ins with James] — including sex researchers — asked that I not ever quote them or mention them by name,” she wrote. “They feared being attacked by James, as Bailey and others had been.”

For that reason, and because of my own involvement, I have been deeply conflicted about writing this piece. But it’s a perfect 2023 story, in a way. It epitomises an approach to social justice and to journalism that is so anti-intellectual, and unforgiving that it’s impossible to imagine it making the world a better place. But perhaps most disturbing is that there’s no accountability. No one can control whether they’re included on James’s site. There’s no one to appeal to other than James herself, and she has proved herself time and time again to be unreasonable. (I emailed James about this piece. She sent a brief response, which didn’t address any of my points, and has not commented further.)

But our information ecosystem doesn’t reward reasonableness — it rewards reaction and outrage. And particularly when the subject is social justice, media outlets are all too eager to abdicate their basic responsibilities as guardians of the truth.


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Joe Wein
Joe Wein
5 months ago

I have noticed anecdotally that by far, the most aggressive trans-activists seem to be biological men. It is curious that although they identify as women, their behavior remains quite masculine.
Has anyone else noticed this as well?

Max Price
Max Price
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

Oh yeah, of course.

R Wright
RW
R Wright
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

It is always a dead giveaway.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

Yes, very much so.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

That was my very first thought, especially on reading that appalling testosterone filled quote – “a c***-starved exhibitionist”.

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

Same in sport-its almost exclusively biological men “identifying” as women who want to participate in womens sport.Can’t really think of too many examples of biological women identifying as men queuing up to participate in boxing,rugby.tennis,swimming etc etc-how strange!

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
5 months ago

Occasional women perform in American football, especially in small rural schools, and usually as kickers.

Terry M
Terry M
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Yes, but they perform as girls, not as male wannabes.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
4 months ago

Sarah Taylor the England women’s wicket-keeper-batswoman was at one point suggested as the best keeper in the world of either sex by none other than Adam Gilchrist. She also played a couple of matches in men’s Grade cricket down under without being a disaster but without making much of a contribution. I also remember reading of a female cricketer hitting a century in a male Prem league, maybe somewhere like Norfolk (Prem leagues are basically County second team standard). Fair play to them, and I don’t mind male leagues being open to women who are actually good enough to participate, because – and this is crucial – allowing female participation in male sports is very unlikely to have a significant impact on male competition or male access to sport participation. All that will happen will be that occasional statistical outlier women cricketers will perform adequately alongside male competitors – good luck to those who do!
The same cannot be said of male cricketers participating in female leagues. Statistically speaking, the mean of the respective bell curves for the aggregated and weighted performance indices of players will be significantly higher for men than for women. You would expect the average male seeking to participate in female leagues to be capable of bowling faster and of imparting more spin, and of hitting the ball further. You would expect him to be better even than the star female players. Individual instances of this may not matter too much. The phenomenon becomes problematic if and when it becomes more widespread. It’s not absurd to foresee a time when the female averages are dominated by eight or ten male cricketers, and half a dozen of them end up getting picked for the England women’s cricket team.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I saw a few women’s game at the Oval, including an international and they were pretty good; very skilful. However, the most obvious difference was how much harder and further the ball was hit in the men’s game. It was a quite different order of magnitude. I suspected that the male fast bowlers were far faster but that wasn’t as easy to observe.
I also recall meeting some young England women on a train and I asked them if they would like to play on men’s teams – absolutely not.

It’s more plausible that women could join men’s teams in cricket than most sports; I think of demon female spin bowlers, who might not quite have strength in fingers but have as much guile as any man. Yet, it’s still unlikely even in cricket, there will many women who succeed.

That biological men should play against women is an awful thought. Most troubling being the highly aggressive fast bowler. It shocks me that there are relatively few serious injuries in the men’s game as a consequence of this and I really worry how badly women could be hurt.

Stephan Quentin
Stephan Quentin
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

In another article on Unherd, published some time ago, some evidence from Sweden was quoted that levels of male aggression remain unchanged after transition

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
5 months ago

Yes I agree with that except that they aren’t male (or so they say)

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

This is a very clear, obvious, and frequently-noted phenomena.

Rob McMillin
Rob McMillin
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

Universally bullies.”If you don’t participate in my delusion, you are a bad person”, with an unspoken “and I will do everything in my power to ruin your reputation and possibly get you fired” as a coda.

Paul Nathanson
PN
Paul Nathanson
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

You speak the truth, Joe, but not the whole truth. And I suspect that this is the case for many of those who agree with you.
These “trans-women” are actually men, okay. That’s biologically irrefutable. But the ones who act like “Andrea” James, I suggest, are seriously disturbed men. Their behavior is far from universal among men. Their hostility toward (and probably envy of) women is due to their own neuroticism, not to male biology. Given the ideological conflict between men and women in our time, someone needs to say that explicitly.
I’ll be more specific. It’s true that men are more aggressive than women. (Women are by no means immune to it, but they express it their own characteristic ways.) It’s true, moreover, that aggression sometimes expresses malevolence. But it can express benevolence, too. Either way, aggression evolved to serve communal needs. No community could endure without it.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

While on average men are more aggressive than women, most men are not aggressive

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
5 months ago

Aggression is not inherently bad, Jonathan, except in common parlance. It can be expressed in both good and bad ways. If men (or women) were not aggressive, we could not have survived as a species. Don’t take it from me. Ask any psychologist.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Quite so. I was supporting your point. It’s so odd to see “women” behaving far more aggressively than I ever behave in advocating for their cause, never mind comparing to women advocating for a female issue.

I find that fierceness the “women” very strange

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
4 months ago

Thanks for clarifying that, Jonathan. The “fierceness” in women seems strange mainly, I think, because the cultural script for femininity in our society hides it, and the cultural script for masculinity exaggerates it. The degree in each case varies from one time and place to another.
In any case, women characteristically express their aggression as verbal and therefore emotional or intellectual manipulation (although, as we know from studies of domestic violence, physical aggression among women is by no means unknown).

Cassandra Birch
Cassandra Birch
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

I only see trans men getting attention when they get pregnant or try to make “chestfeeding” a thing. Not seeing them winning Man of The Year much.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
4 months ago
Reply to  Joe Wein

*The most aggressive trans-activists seem to be men.
Apologies for the pedantry. Have an upvote.

Leigh A
Leigh A
5 months ago

And yet apologists for trans extremists bristle when critics point to clear evidence that many suffer from obvious mental health issues. Keep on shining the spotlight Jesse (and other writers), it’s the only way to show the community just how insane this toxic ideology has become.

R M
R M
5 months ago
Reply to  Leigh A

It would certainly be very interesting to find out how many trans rights extremists have something like Histrionic Personality Disorder.
These are the characteristics of HPD from the WHO classification:
shallow and labile affectivity,self-dramatization,theatricality,exaggerated expression of emotions,suggestibility,egocentricity,self-indulgence,lack of consideration for others,easily hurt feelings, and continuous seeking for appreciation, excitement and attention.
This often comes to mind when I see the reactions of trans rights activists to any refusal to accede to their demands. Like when Emily Bridges described British Cycling’s decision to restrict the female category to women as “genocide”.

Last edited 5 months ago by R M
Terry M
Terry M
4 months ago
Reply to  R M

That description applies to most Wokesters and SJWs.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
5 months ago
Reply to  Leigh A

Were any other political pressure group to use caricatures like those posted on the Transgender Map website, they would be called out for perpetuating racist stereotypes.
So it’s interesting that gender identity ideologists seem to believe that fighting for ‘trans rights’ (the somewhat bowdlerised and misleading banner under which they claim to operate) somehow affords them a free pass to trample the rights of literally anybody else – women, children, homosexuals, Jews, people of colour etc.

Ardath Blauvelt
Ardath Blauvelt
5 months ago
Reply to  Leigh A

The same toxicity shows up in all the radical progressive causes, from race to Israel. No facts, ma’am, just rage.

David Morley
David Morley
5 months ago

And when you get two lots of them in opposition to each other you get: terf v trans.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
5 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

TERF is a derogatory label assigned to people who refuse to go along with the lie that men can be women.

David Morley
David Morley
5 months ago
Reply to  Leigh A

Doesn’t that go for lots of activists of different stripes?

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
5 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

It does, indeed, David. That’s because all of these ideologies, no matter how beguiling their vocabularies might seem, are founded on false underlying assumptions. Among them are that: (a) human life itself is all about power; (b) all humans are innately either powerful oppressors or powerless victims; and (c) the ultimate goal is to reverse this hierarchy by any means necessary.

R Wright
R Wright
5 months ago

The militancy of this person and his wrath against others makes very clear that he’s a man, if the giant adam’s apple wasn’t enough of a giveaway. Notice how Kiwifarms, a site with a very similar function to James’, became persona non grata and was temporarily purged from the entire internet for its doxxing. Meanwhile this AGP loon is exalted and worshipped for doing the very same thing. The hypocrisy of trans activists is almost as disturbing as ‘bottom surgery’.

Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
5 months ago

“Andrea James was one of the worst offenders. Her behaviour has been well-documented by the medical historian and bioethicist Alice Dreger, who in a 2006 blog post observed that “Ms. James was notable for the way she decided to go after Bailey’s children to extract revenge. She posted on the internet photographs of Bailey’s daughter and labeled her a ‘c**k-starved exhibitionist.’””
Like the remainder of this piece, this paragraph would benefit from some basic fact-checking and subediting. Namely:
“Andrea James was one of the worst offenders. His behaviour has been well-documented by the medical historian and bioethicist Alice Dreger, who in a 2006 blog post observed that “James was notable for the way he decided to go after Bailey’s children to extract revenge. He posted on the internet photographs of Bailey’s daughter and labeled her a ‘c**k-starved exhibitionist.’””
Having the actual sex of the perpetrator before one’s eyes as one reads – rather than an obsequious fiction – gives the narrative a rather different flavour.

Last edited 5 months ago by Russell Sharpe
Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
5 months ago
Reply to  Russell Sharpe

Yes, I agree. Do not enable the delusion by pretending that James is a female. He is a male.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago

Well this is a totally bizarre story. Sounds like this James person has some severe mental health issues. Far be it from me to suggest a course of action for the author, but she should send this article to every MP in Britain and politician in the US, as well as every sympathetic media outlet. I know someone like Megyn Kelly would love to sink her teeth into something like this.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

James sounds disturbed enough to start a page on us all. I agree, this article should be shared far and wide. This level of personal harassment of so many people must be criminal.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago

That’s what struck me – surely this amounts to stalking? It’s bordering on illegality, although there’s the question of jurisdiction.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

This could serve as a test case if it got enough air.

Samantha Stevens
SS
Samantha Stevens
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Megan Kelly would be the perfect answer.

R M
2
R M
5 months ago

But remember everyone, it’s “not a cult”.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago
Reply to  R M

Speaking of cults, everyone should watch Escaping Twin Flames on Netflix. Seriously interesting doc about confused people looking for love and acceptance. One of the side plots is about the cult leader convincing a bunch of lonely women to transition to men. What’s interesting is the producers include all these pro trans messages, even while the movie clearly shows the power of persuasion and coercion that convinces these adult women to transition. While targeting the cult leader, the movie inadvertently illustrates the role of social pressure in the trans movement.

R M
R M
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I read about that the other day, possibly here on UnHerd, I can’t remember. I’ll have to watch it as it does sound interesting.
Certainly at the extreme trans right activist end of things, I see absolutely nothing which convinces me it isn’t a cult. Many of the typical characteristics are there:
Absolute belief in some kind of magical thinking which only adherents really understand (e.g. people can change sex)Zero tolerance for dissenting views (e.g. No debate)Conspiracy theories about outsiders (e.g. trans genocide) Separation of the vulnerable from family and friends (e.g. refusal to share teaching materials with parents)Implied or actual violence against perceived opponents (e.g. “If you see a TERF punch her in the face”)Leadership from figures with a history of psychological illness or violent criminal behaviour (I won’t mention specific names to save UnHerd’s lawyers some work checking them, but you can easily look up some of the characters involved)Belief in some form of quasi-religious bodily transformation (e.g. “top surgery”)Apostasy as the ultimate “sin” (e.g. online treatment of people who now regret surgery)
It probably bears repeating that I don’t think all trans people or their supporters are at this extreme end. I’m sure lots of trans people just want to peacefully live their lives presenting to the world as the sex other than they were born. I don’t have an issue with that as far as it goes.
But there’s no question in my mind that there is a large group of trans rights activists who are members of a cult whether they realise it or not.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago
Reply to  R M

What’s interesting is the cult isn’t about trans – it’s about finding your perfect mate. But the movement had way too many females and not enough males. To solve this problem, they convinced a bunch of women they were really men and paired them up with female members. A lot of these people were lonely and confused – that’s what attracted them to a cult promoting the perfect mate – but I don’t think any of them were confused about their gender. But through social affirmation and coercion, the cult convinced many of them to change their sex.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
5 months ago
Reply to  R M

Although not everything on your list, R.M., is a defining feature only of cults–conspiracy theories occur in some religions, for instance, and in most or all secular religions (ideologies)–your general point is well taken. Transgenderism might or might not be a cult, but it is definitely a secular religion.
What struck me immediately after reading about it was the notion of some mysterious, vaguely spiritual, transmigrating entity called “gender identity,” which amounts to a soul. And because this soul can be born into the “wrong body,” this doctrine follows a pattern that was set many centuries ago by dualistic theologies such as Manicheism (and from there found its way into some forms of Judaism and Christianity).

Last edited 4 months ago by Paul Nathanson
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

I actually don’t think transgenderism is a cult. What is interesting is that adults can be convinced to change their identity through social pressure. Extrapolate this to confused and anxious children growing up in an environment where they are bombarded with positive messages about changing gender. It exposes the myth that gender identity cannot be a social contagion.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Sorry, Jim, I was replying to to R.M. I’ve corrected my comment.

Last edited 4 months ago by Paul Nathanson
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
5 months ago
Reply to  R M

Did you say ‘cult’?

J. Hale
J. Hale
5 months ago

So the sign illustrating this article says “TERFs F*** Off.” So much for the “sisterhood.” But of course if you’ve got a p***s under your dress, you’re not really a sister.

Nina Power
Nina Power
5 months ago

Thanks Jesse for covering this so thoroughly. I have the “honour” of a dedicated page on this website, as do quite a few women I know. This kind of obsessive stalking, intimidation, and attempts to cause reputation damage are as horrendous as they are sad. There are some people who are vindictive not only against people who disagree with them, but against reality itself. The idea that institutions would encourage and even celebrate this insanity is just…utterly depressing.

David Morley
David Morley
5 months ago
Reply to  Nina Power

This kind of obsessive stalking, intimidation, and attempts to cause reputation damage 

Clearly this person really is non-binary – they are exhibiting all the worst behaviours of both sexes!

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
5 months ago
Reply to  Nina Power

The term “cancel culture” is exemplified most clearly by this James fellow. His toxic behavior, and his stated interest in getting people fired, are the most terrible things going on today. When discourse and comments are weaponized to be damaging to employment, personal relationships, and overall functioning, society is damaged overall.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
5 months ago

Just looking at the photo that accompanies the article, it would appear that transitioning wasn’t the only surgery at play here. The placard hand seems to have had a thumb removed and a prosthetic finger attached in its place.
I get so tired by the whole debate, and the invective against TERFs, that my mind wanders and I’m left wondering, “Should a downtrodden working class, trans-exclusionary radical feminist be described as Serf-n-Terf?”

David Morley
David Morley
5 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Well done! I’ve been trying to make that joke work for ages!

Cheryl Hercus
Cheryl Hercus
5 months ago

Enlightening article but so jarring to keep reading ‘she’ when we all know it’s ‘he’. If that wasn’t enough, he is also referred to as a woman. At least could have written trans woman.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
5 months ago

When a person makes a decision that is terribly and irreversibly wrong, there are 2 responses:
1) They acknowledge the wrongness and correct it
2) They double down and become rage-filled and far more emphatic about the correctness of the decision
For men deluded into the female persona (MDITFP), it becomes clear after a time that the decision to pretend to be a woman was very very wrong. Since MDITFP retain male aggressiveness and rage, the response is often the second, doubling down and showing rage. This is partially due to the FACT that some decisions (surgical) cannot be corrected. Many stories about “when I came to after the surgery, I knew that I had made a terrible mistake”.
Putting on the pretense of the other sex changes nothing in the person. Your sex is determined at conception, and never changes.

Last edited 5 months ago by Paul Thompson
Rose D
Rose D
5 months ago

To the editor: Mr. Singal chooses to use “she” and “her” to refer to the male subject of this article. That is Mr. Singal’s right. It is the editor’s job to ensure articles do not mislead or misinform readers. To that end, it would be helpful in the future for Unherd to include an editor’s note either ahead of or at the end of the article clarifying that James is male.

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
5 months ago

This MAN seems to have some serious mental health issues. As for TERF, I am a proud TERF – ie Tired of Explaining Reality to Fuckwits!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago

Note to self… in this group, wearing a pink, wide-gauge mesh leotard will confer celebrity status on me.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
5 months ago

Why do you say “she”? I don’t like to use the wrong pronouns but if a trans person is friendly, pleasant and decent, I can easily stretch a point but this man is a t@sser. Not worthy of this.

Stephan Quentin
Stephan Quentin
5 months ago

I am not s psychiatrist, just a family practitioner, but the description of that lady’s behaviour is suggestive of fairly severe mental health issues, probably borderline personality disorder (BPD)

Nina Power
Nina Power
5 months ago

Not a lady.

Cheryl Hercus
Cheryl Hercus
5 months ago

You mean “that man’s” behaviour.

Eriol 0
Eriol 0
4 months ago

On the photo accompanying this article, I was struck by the image of the young man wearing a pink fishnet bodysuit (don’t even know what to call that article of clothing if it qualifies as one) and his white pants low over his hips. Another image was the young girl on the right with black triangles covering her bare breasts. These young people were aiming for a very sexual image, and it hit me that for a very great many people, life has become completely sexualised. Sex and all its accompanying fantasies has become a core of their lives and identities. Porn is widely accessible online and the fantasies and fetishes it offers is extremely deviant – sex with kids, with animals, sexual slavery. I don’t know which is the chicken and which the egg, but there is much porn describing sexual fantasies with people with both sexual organs. I wonder how much this is fueled by, or fueling, the current gender fluidity movement. I could be wrong, but the way some of the people chose to present themselves on the photo made me wonder how much this trans movement is actually a result of the hypersexualisation of society. It doesn’t seem to me that this is about the freedom to live a ‘normal’ life after sex changes, but rather, the freedom to indulge in their sexual fantasies. In fact, there already are attempts to ‘normalize’ pedophilia and bestiality. I could say this is nothing new. Caligula comes to mind and the Marquis de Sade, but then it was limited to a clique of ‘privileged’ people. Now it is mass circulated and available to anyone 24/7. The ferocity of the movement’s proponents, as cited in this article, is very akin to the energy of the sexual aggression in most porn nowadays. That phrase used by James “c**k starved exhibitionist” is a dead giveaway.

Last edited 4 months ago by Eriol 0
Dumetrius
D
Dumetrius
4 months ago
Reply to  Eriol 0

But when you make sex the core of identity, it is then carrying a burden it was never designed to.

And staggering under all that weight, it ceases to be fun.

When you see someone like this on apps like Grindr, you just scan their profile and always conclude ‘wow, that looks like way too much work.’

Others conclude the same.

The individual’s profile becomes more charged, more bitter, more betrayed-sounding, the longer they stay on the app.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
5 months ago

He sounds like a horrible man.

Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence
4 months ago

Gosh, when a man hates women so much he decides to become a caricature of the female sex just so he can mock them even further while justifying his hatred of them (and those that defend them) as a virtue! What a world we live in!

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
5 months ago

Half-Hindu? Is that a thing?

Dave R
Dave R
5 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Lower half?

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
5 months ago

Reading the definition of terf, I think it could be an honour like “barrel rider”.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
5 months ago

The three genders: Male. Female. Wannabes.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
5 months ago

Wow, these trans people are really crazy.

Mint Julip
Mint Julip
4 months ago

Well, that took me an inordinately long time to read, that’s what happens when performing mental gymnastics. Every she, her, herself I changed to the more accurate he, him, himself. It really helped with the stalking narrative, very male indeed!

William Cameron
William Cameron
5 months ago

If they have a p***s they are not real Trans- they are men trying to scare women

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
5 months ago

The word “p***s” is not a naughty word or a forbidden word. It need not be disguised. But now I see that the dumbass bozos at Unherd auto-disguise this biological term.

Last edited 5 months ago by Paul Thompson
Janis Barnard
JB
Janis Barnard
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Ha ha. Yes, I actually spent a moment trying to figure out what the censored word was.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
5 months ago

Some people are just evil.

ma anderson
ma anderson
4 months ago

There is always the risk of confronting someone like James, but from what I gather from this article (and others), James has already pushed the boundaries. Seems to me that there are any number of legal actions one might take, including intentional interference in business relations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, much less defamation/libel/slander, or any number of ‘stalking’-type causes of action. If enough individuals who have been targeted take action, it might turn the tide.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
4 months ago

“From some trans activists’ points of view, it is settled science that youth gender medicine works — indeed, saves lives. To suggest otherwise is heresy.”
They are of course completely wrong – and the very use of the word ‘heresy’ reveals that dogma is at the root of this ideology. Just like religion. And cults.

What a sorry story of vitriol & vindictiveness this is. Andrea James is filled with rage & resentment, and should be referred to correctly as ‘he’. Why does Jesse Singal say ‘she’? It’s baffling. There is no need for anyone to participate in this grammatical lie just to appease the need of TIMs for universal validation. He is a man.

In any case, ‘transgenderism’ is a meaningless term. It refers to a phenomenon that millions live by all the time – it’s called being gender neutral. Notice the term ‘transsexual’ has disappeared… that’s because TRAs know very well that no human can change sex, so they’ve slyly moved the goalposts & changed the word. They want their fetish to be recognised & SEEN.

Dr Az Hakeem’s books ‘Trans’ & ‘Detrans’ are superb on this subject. He is a consultant psychiatrist with extensive knowledge & experience of ‘gender’ & its continuing fallout. I recommend them to anyone seeking clarification on this overwrought subject.

Mr Bates
Mr Bates
4 months ago

Just a thank you for for being courageous enough to record this case study. It may highlight the ‘pathological’ nature of these activists, as it traces the patterns of their bad behavior and distorted mindset; but it also highlights the moderation and carefulness of well balanced commentators and encourages others to stand firm, to speak out, and not to be cowed by harassment.

James P
JP
James P
4 months ago

Why does the article refer to AJ as “she”?

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
4 months ago

What is all this “she” crap?

James Jenkin
James Jenkin
4 months ago

Transgender Map on ‘faith’ is priceless https://www.transgendermap.com/social/faith/ It uses Biblical quotes and everything

Patricia Hardman
Patricia Hardman
3 months ago

Really informative and definitely disturbing article about a very toxic man.
I really do not understand why Jesse refers to James as a woman and uses female pronouns. It is offensive to those of us who are actual adult human females.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

While reading, I was a bit confused about how this is relevant to 2023. Given your recent attendance at SEGM and mentioning Gordon Guyatt on the Blocked & Reported podcast, perhaps the topic of Andrea James came back up because so many people you’re in contact with are featured on the site?
Anyway, I’m glad you write for other publications than just your own substack and B&R. I’m rather irked at the horrible quality of the comments here; they give credence to people who we imagine would say “Publication X is a transphobic publication!” based on the comments on articles. It’s so frustrating to see people screeching anti-trans invective in comments on the topic because it delegitimizes criticism of trans activism. Alas, I’ve been spoiled by the B&R substack comments.

David Morley
DM
David Morley
5 months ago

What appears to have curdled her is the work of Ray Blanchard, the sex researcher who proposed the theory of autogynephilia

Isn’t that this whole debate in a nutshell. One side provokes the other. Then when they get a reaction they scream blue murder. Then there’s a counter strike, and on it goes, endlessly. Both sides as bad as each other.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
5 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

“Both sides as bad as each other.”
I don’t know about that, David. People on both sides might resort to retaliation, now and then, but only those on one side have tried to turn society upside-down (causing much harm) in order to show compassion (which often amounts to virtue-signaling) for a tiny minority of the population (who deserve real compassion, not cosmetic surgery that amounts to mutilation). Only one side makes sense scientifically, moreover, and therefore has no need for lies.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
5 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

No, one side lives a lie, the other refuses to on this particular point. There’s no real comparison.