My research, writing, and speaking on sex and gender issues started with my Ph.D. dissertation work on the history of what happened to people with intersex conditions in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. (During that period, these people were labeled “hermaphrodites.”) The medical and social systems that deal with intersex – the systems on which a lot of my work has focused – also deal to a large extent with people who are or might be transgender, and as a result, I’ve been interested in the social and medical (mis)treatment of people who are transgender.
Sometimes people confront me with hateful things I have supposedly said about transgender people – things I’ve never said. There are some fake posts out there that have my byline and even my photo but have text that is not mine – in some cases, really disgusting text. That is frustrating, but I’ve learned I can’t spend my whole life trying to stop false representations of me.
What I can do here is to point you to my actual work. Here are some examples:
- “Really Changing Sex”: a 2006 post for the Hastings Center, arguing that doctors should not be the people in charge of saying who is what gender – that people should be allowed to decide that for themselves.
- Sport in Transition: Making Sport in Canada Responsible for Gender Inclusivity: a 2012 white paper I co-edited, pushing for inclusivity of trans athletes in sports. (I’ve also published four essays in the New York Times Sports section, arguing for allowing women with intersex conditions to compete as women without medical coercion.)
- “Gender Identity Disorder in Childhood: Inconclusive Advice to Parents”: a 2012 essay I wrote for the Hastings Center Report looking at some of the knowns and unknowns in terms of the evidence (including that childhood gender dysphoria that continues into adolescence is unlikely to disappear), counseling parents about how to put their children’s interests before their own. (Contact me if you’re not at an academic institution with a subscription and would like a copy.)
- Implementing Curricular and Institutional Climate Changes to Improve Health Care for Individuals Who Are LGBT, Gender Nonconforming, or Born with DSD: A Resource for Medical Educators: a 2014 volume I co-edited with Andrew D. Hollenbach and Kristin L. Eckstrand for the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) aimed at teaching future doctors to treat patients from sex and gender minority populations much better than many of their predecessors treated these populations.
Those are just some examples. I’ve picked ones that should be easily available online to most interested people.
If you’d like to hear a recent podcast in which I explain why I believe that transwomen athletes should be allowed to play as women, and in which I push back against the idea that there is a “problem” that more young people are seeking transitional interventions, have a listen to the Heterodorx podcast.
Finally, some people claim that I am “anti-transgender” because I believe that autogynephilia is a real human phenomenon and that it’s a legitimate way to be transgender. That’s just bizarre. It’s obviously real – plenty of people identify with it and describe the experiences – and I also cannot understand why some people think this is not a legitimate way to be transgender. It absolutely is a legitimate way to be transgender. If that’s how you got to your understanding of your gender identity (and sexuality), that is absolutely okay.
Want to know more about that? Check out this page, in which I conclude: “…while transgender people should be allowed to talk about how their sexualities matter to their gender identities, their self-declarations of gender identity should be all that matter to us in terms of their social gender identities.”