As someone who has derailed many a dinner party with this topic, I have recently taken a different approach and now focus more on the angles of illiberalism and freedom of speech/belief. I find this helpful because people don’t have to state their own opinions re trans in order to say that they think free speech is important. It also helps me to keep my emotions in check and to not come off as hysterical. So I might say for example that I find the policy of allowing males to compete in female sport to be bad policy. But I often disagree with policies, what is far worse is the way that people who oppose certain policies are silenced and punished. The example of April Hutchinson in Canada is a perfect example. She is a weightlifter who publicly objected to having to compete against a male. She was suspended from competition as a result. So I will say that I think it’s unfair she has to compete against a male, but it’s even worse that she was suspended for speaking out. So even people who think trans women should be allowed to compete in the female category, will usually concede that the suspension is illiberal, that objections should not be met with punishment. I want people to think about the level of silence around this topic. And I suppose I think this is effective because I really believe that what we need is to have people feeling that they can openly discuss topics around gender. The ideas don’t hold up to scrutiny so if we can just lift the taboo, I think a measure of sanity will return.

Expand full comment

There is no reason to turn conservative. What is needed is to recognize that "progressives" aren't liberal. I am a liberal, and actually operating as a liberal leads to rejection of the gender ideology and the idea that what is currently being done with children and adolescents makes any sense. I have found it helps not to insist that people need to change their minds. Rather, I have told them I wanted to show that my own position was reasonable and wasn't at odds with not hating people who are trans. That leaves them to decide they should change their minds

Expand full comment

I've tried many approaches, but am really not that satisfied with any of them. My most common approach has been to start off by saying that I support the preservation of girls' and women’s single sex spaces and sports, but a common reply is "Well, I support compassion"...as if female single sex spaces and compassion are mutually exclusive. Recently, I've begun to counter by saying that "compassion is a fine value, but compassion untethered from reality is not a kindness, not a societal good...especially when it only addresses the concerns of one constituency...one stakeholder...male athletes who self-identity as female...while completely ignoring the valid concerns of other stakeholders (i.e. human female athletes).

Expand full comment

When I describe to my liberal female friends what happens to the female body on testosterone, their reaction is visceral - a physical cringe followed by "I had no idea." That usually gets the dialogue moving in a better direction.

Expand full comment

My citing the over 4,000% increase in young women and girls seeking gender treatment in the UK's NHS (statistic from a few years ago) helped a cousin of ours listen to me. He was referring to my child by her fake name to my face when we were 1:1, and I wasn't having it. He and I have similar lifelong liberal credentials, but the issue hadn't walked into his house like it had mine, so he was still being "kind" and "inclusive." But when he heard those numbers, he knew something was wrong, and he was able to listen. Not the case with everyone.

Expand full comment

I have lost friendships over this. A few lib friends and family get it--but often it is countered by their experiences with other parents, the affirming ones, the ones I call The Proselytizers. The Proselytizers insist that their children (often teens or YAs) are so much happier, better off, in their new authentic identities. They downplay medical harm, they perpetuate the suicide myth, they presume detransition is rare--and hey, if they change their minds, no problem.

Since we see only a few public detransitioners, the tip of the tip of the iceberg--my guess is that lib friends suspect these public detransitioners as being shills for conservatives.

So, why I am not on-board, is the unspoken thought of lib friends.

Our social bubbles, political bubbles, media bubbles--anything that it tinged conservative is suspect.

Finally, the Pamela Paul piece may open minds.

Perhaps the NYT will now publish a piece by Lisa Selin Davis.

Expand full comment

I think it may be useful to first agree on something. We can all agree that gender-dysphoric kids are in distress. The question is how to help them best. Then perhaps we can say that, unfortunately, research is indicating that what we've been doing so far isn't helping. Then move from there.

I think it's also key to just plant a seed of doubt first, and then provide a resource or two, maximum. Those who actually care will be able to find their way from there, as long as the resources provided are trustworthy and non-partisan.

Expand full comment

I am not allowed to bring up the topic in my friend circles because it threatens them as long time loyal members of the LGBT. I was largely ignored posting book reviews and movie reviews on FB to offer information to my 550 contacts so I spent my time challenging all the pro-trans memes that colleagues would post with questions aimed to foster cognitive dissonance. My most salient question was "Why are we telling children they can be the opposite sex when they don't even know they are gay?" No one could answer that one. Being a lesbian with this anti-trans ideology message has got the attention of these colleagues. They stopped posting pro-trans memes because they knew I'd be there to challenge even the silliest pronoun memes.

When I joined my Terven group which meets once a month I began to report on the meetings as a social activity to which I would dress in my latest fashion outfit of my own design. I made sure to have a friend take a picture of me in the outfit and included pictures of the food we ate and the venue if we went to one. People would comment on these pictures even if they didn't acknowledge the content of the meeting. This was a safe way for them to interact with the post and later when our activities got more political one or two would ask me for more details.

I also published my book on the topic — The Unexpected Penis: Conversations on the Gender Trail which signaled that I knew what I was talking about. Since a lot of my colleagues publish books, some offered congratulations just to acknowledge the achievement even though not the content. I could also report on book readings and how that opened up space for people to discuss this topic in a civil manner. This allowed me to include issues of free speech and how the no debate policy is authoritarian and is an act of political terrorism especially where women were trying to speak.

Overall in showing that I was involved in a movement in the San Francisco Bay Area, the epicenter of LGBT history, I was able to dispel the assumptions that the push back was coming from Right Wing Christians because clearly none of my Terven friends were that. We had signs saying we were Democrats at our protest events and rallies in Sacramento.

Expand full comment

Go to Di-Ag.org. Democrats for an Informed Approach to Gender.

Expand full comment

Half the Democratic Party will not believe us, or believe that we matter, until there is hard electoral evidence that smacks them in the face. I keep saying that the California ballot initiative is the single most important thing going on for us this year because it has the potential to force Democrats to admit they lack popular support for the policies at issue. We make it plain that our existence is proof they can never, ever win, that they lose by continuing to try.

Expand full comment

It seems step one is to try to identify in advance the person's opposition. Is it towing the line? Is it a misunderstanding of the facts? Or, is it the most stubborn, a belief in the moral superiority of those views. That the lib beliefs are about compassion, freedom, autonomy and so forth and the other side is hateful, controlling etc. I don't have the prescription for talking to each of those camps but likely having at least familiarity with the audience in that sense will "optimize verbal strategy" and hopefully prevent a complete rejection or shutting down entirely.

Expand full comment

This post is so timely for me. Last week I put together an email explaining why I was getting involved with the ballot initiative efforts in California and inviting people (all of whom I perceive as liberal - this is SF after all) to meet with me to learn more about my personal experience with the issue. I have been pleasantly surprised with the response. Almost everyone wishes to meet and most have articulated some level of concern about the issue in their response.

In my email I highlighted the collision of rights which I think Eliza Mondegreen summarizes beautifully in this article for Reality’s Last Stand: https://www.realityslaststand.com/p/trans-activism-and-the-road-not-taken

Expand full comment

this is such a challenge these days. When I tell individual stories, my liberal friends try to show compassion but then promptly try to change the subject or marginalize the painful story (think Sage’s Law, Virginia). I find it necessary with friends/family I would hope to maintain relationships with, to raise the elephant in the room: it is possible for people with conservative view on this or other issues but be equally compassionate as liberals. If they cannot tolerate that concept, I let them change the subject and retreat on all fronts. many former family relationships and friends.

Expand full comment

I've had some success with several approaches.

1 -- Point out that 98% of kids on puberty blockers move on to X-sex hormones, so puberty blockers aren't really buying time to decide. Really, kids figure out their sexuality by *going through* puberty, which I've heard many trans people say in interviews.

2 -- Europe has essentially abandoned transitioning kids. The evidence of benefit for transitioning kids is just not there. Studies either all have tiny samples, lost huge numbers of participants, or use very biased selection criteria.

3 -- Isn't it odd that according to progressives, there's no word for biological women any more? I mean that's odd, right?

Expand full comment

I speak from the heart. Having a child who showed no signs of even gender non-conformity for her entire life suddenly claim a trans identity after suffering from a serious eating disorder and during covid I was plunged headlong into this world. Being very liberal in my politics and my values made things fairly difficult at first. However, after researching, reading and questioning I have landed at a place I feel good about. My friends and family know me well and trust my opinion about my own child. I have learned to not give too much information at first but so many people I have spoken to about my daughter or the issue itself are open minded honestly. Many of them know my daughter and are as shocked as her family by her decisions. I have learned that tempered emotions and the truth work best when talking about this subject. I do feel like the tide is turning and talking about this might begin to get easier. I don't need people to agree with me, only to start to think for themselves and start to ask questions of what they are reading. I think the women's sports issue and fairness is an easier place to start for those who are really dug into the 'born in the wrong body' narrative. I don't know I just hope we return to some semblance of sanity around this issue soon....

Expand full comment

Irreversible clitoral growth; menopause; vaginal atrophy; muscle mass that a small skeletal structure cannot support, leading to chronic pain. Potentially psychotic side effects too.

Expand full comment

I have tried the anorexia analogy: "When we (parental types) were young and our friends became anorexic, we didn't tell them: hey that's great, so glad you're not eating!"

No, we recognized this as body dysmorphia and didn't encourage them to harm themselves. This sometimes counters the "we must support our young people" line I get.

Expand full comment

I talk about the attempts to suppress the "lived experience" of desisters, detransitioners and regretted, and how learning about their experiences can only help improve care for all. The only reason liberal or apolitical detrans are being reported and supported by conservatives is that progressives have disowned them out of fear of the facts.

Expand full comment

Over last few years I have invited individuals for lunch at my house .. people open up more easily in this setting .. I have shown some YouTube video of eg. Prof Michelle Moore voicing her concerns .. others I have started from an area that affects their child eg. Sport … for the completely uninitiated I use Russian Doll analogy to explain how the % of diagnosed gender dysphoria = the tiny doll and the lobby groups the big doll with power & influence …. Majority of folk “ get it” when child safeguarding questions are posed … it’s deliberately confusing ideology so will take time & gentle prods to get folk to think for themselves again even before they feel able to do anything about it … but once they see it for what it is they can’t unsee it … whether they act on new knowledge is different matter but courage calls to courage

Expand full comment

I speak to 'libs" who probably assume I think exactly as they do, quite bluntly as regards the unicorn spirit beliefs of "gender". I say "it's clear you have not done your research. This is the most misogonynistic movement of all times. If you think this is a natural extension of the gay rights movement, then you are sorely confused and moreover, you are the hand maid of the billionaire fetishists that are driving this whole thing. I'd think you were the last person to BE the handmaid of male billionaires. Oops, I was wrong. Dig in your heels and call me names but they are coming for your children, and when they do, you have no one to blame but yourself."

Expand full comment

On the Suicide Myth:

I would say something like: if people with GD will suicide if they don't get hormones & surgeries, ... then why is there no evidence of such massive numbers of suicide? All these thousands of children who are now on puberty blockers, are you telling me they would have killed themselves without those drugs? Where is the evidence of that? There is no evidence, Zero evidence, of massive numbers of kids with (alleged) GD killing themselves prior to the popularization of the medicalization of GD. How can you explain that?

The other person will not have an explanation.

Then I would say that this is myth. That this a form of hysteria. That we shouldn't fall for it. We should adhere to a more reasonable point of view.

Expand full comment

I think how to talk depends on the audience. Perhaps with academic liberals, the best approach is to express concern for lack of follow up. Maybe frame as, in the past women were often excluded from clinical studies and you are concerned that now "trans people" are. Say that you want to make sure unproven treatments are not given to the vulnerable populations as has happened in the past. It can be framed as a concern for lack of rigorous research in transgender medicine, which is a real concern. Maybe saying something like: I noticed that there is no long follow up studies on the rate of suicide in people who undergo medical transition. Or, I am concerned that there are no rigorous follow-up studies on the rates of infertility.

Expand full comment

I mostly describe what my husband and I have gone with our asd son and his efforts to find friends. I then move on to the weirdness of the movement along with the damage of hormones and surgery. Mostly friends and family seem to get it but who knows.

Expand full comment

I have had some minor success starting with the women’s sports issue because that’s a place where femininity plays no role in achievement and is down completely to biology. Some of my progressive friends were able to acknowledge that male bodies outperform female bodies and that sex isn’t something that is all in our heads.

I have also had some success talking about the health problems that long term opposite sex hormones can have on the body and the dangers of genital surgery. I come at it from a place of concern (which is real) for trans people and talk about how much better it would be if we could help them accept and love their bodies without having to endanger their health to try and look different. I use this as a therapy before medical intervention argument.

I never touch on the existence of AGPs or any of the safety and privacy issues when I am first starting to talk about this stuff with a progressive who has not thought about the trans issue deeply.

I once considered myself progressive but now I think of myself as a left leaning independent

Expand full comment

I’ve spoken to several of my progressive, liberal friends about trans ideology. I start about my views of gender which started with Free to Be You and Me. In short, which clothes you wear or toys you play with don’t change your gender. Boys can wear pink. They’re still boys. Girls can play baseball. They’re still girls.

Every single one of those progressive friends agreed that trans ideology has gone too far. Really, it’s not hard to see why. The trans folks push regressive, sexist stereotypes. They mislabel themselves progressive while they also mislabel their gender. In fact, the entire woke crowd would be better labeled regressive than progressive.

Expand full comment

I was a life long Democrat; worked on campaigns, always there until this issue hit, and nobody else seemed to care.

The democrats sure didn’t. They all have the same party response, it reminds me of the old days with the Republicans.” What’s the big

deal,” they say? Are you against the Gays?

Gees, it’s hard to say anything to people that so “ un-knowing “.

To women my age I ask them if they know the word WOMAN is being fazed out. “What are they going to use?” They chuckle.


They look at me with disbelief and disgust.

I explain there’s a need to accommodate the trans- women who don’t have the original equipment and must not be made to feel uncomfortable. So no more WOMAN.

To be honest the information is so unbelievable sometimes people, especially older women just don’t believe you.

I first became aware of this craziness from my daughter, followed up with my own research and now nobody can shut me up.

They also get deadly sick of hearing me.

Expand full comment

Liberals view trans issues as tantamount to civil rights issues. And they are determined to show the world that being correct on this topic means they would have been on the right side during the Jim Crow era, or in 1930s Germany. So they think you sound like a bigot if you say (for example) that women's sports should be female. They say, "That sounds like segregation" or "separate but equal, huh??"

My response is this: "Well, no. There was never a good reason to divide people by race. That was racist. But there ARE good reasons to divide people by sex, in a few areas of society."

Usually that at least makes people pause and think a little.

Expand full comment

Lisa’s letter on the homeless youth bill gave Josie and and I the impetus to reach out to about 30 friends who, I thought, might be receptive to the issue, even though they are skittish and in many cases don’t know very much. (We made a point of quoting the Paul piece early in the template letter.) We heard nada from anyone (including the electeds to whom we sent it) until this AM, when a person with whom I’ve never had an exchange on this before wrote the following: “Fascinating info, Susan , though way beyond my knowledge base for me to attempt to send a letter. Nonetheless, thanks for including me in your outreach!”

I thought this was a really positive first step, and I hope her curiosity is piqued to learn more. I think it’s highly likely the Paul piece opened the door, but she clearly also read all the rest of the letter, which was mostly quoted from Lisa (and of course properly attributed). Brava, Lisa!

Overall, these days, I generally don’t broach the subject with any personal friends who are not on board, nor do I send out emails. (I am not on any social media; I can’t stand it.)I find it’s largely counterproductive and downright unpleasant, despite my ever-increasing efforts to tread as lightly as possible. If, though, I see an opening in a conversation or email, I try, as delicately as possible, to open the door to understanding at least slightly. I also try to follow Helen Joyce’s observation—just give one bit of info, then drop it. This also almost never nets anything, however, so I am not sure, for me, anyway, it’s worth pursuing. I do favor writing to electeds when there is something concrete to address, as well as supporting organizations and people like Lisa that are voices for sanity as best I can.

Expand full comment

You have to treat people as people.

This article from medium: https://medium.com/bouncin-and-behavin-blogs/does-decency-matter-d8df5928678c was a good one.

I responded with https://medium.com/@rogue4gay/decency-works-when-people-feel-the-government-is-listening-to-their-grievances-948744e7aabb

The concept of decency applies to your question. You use terms like "Dems" and "Libs". You use the phrase "Truth". All implying you look down on the people you want to communicate with.

That word "Truth" is a loaded one. When I encouter that word in articles, I like to refer to the Tim Rice's lyrics about truth in JC Superstar:


Then you're a king? --


-- It's you that say I am

I look for truth, and find that I get damned


But what is truth? Is truth unchanging law?

We both have truths - are mine the same as yours?

Leading with you believing you have the "truth" turns most people off.

The first step to really communicating is to step in their shoes and understand their "truth".

Walk with them.

Expand full comment

Thanks, Lisa. I thought about this post today when, in a discussion with friends, state bans on GAC were compared to restrictions on abortion. (Apologies if you've already written about this.) What do you make of that comparison, from the left? I think that there are ways in which comparing (1) other legal restrictions on teen behavior, like driving and (2) other medical scandals, like the opioid crisis make more sense - but I'm curious about how, in communicating with fellow liberals, it might be possible to prize apart the "right" to GAC from reproductive rights?

Expand full comment

Meanwhile, trans widow #57 contacted me today at uteheggengrasswidow.wordpress.com, to get the survey, 20 Questions to Ask a Trans Widow. I have the sole, only, singular data on our experiences when husband "transitions" in the world. For a window, Lime Soda Films channel, trailers from upcoming documentary of 18 trans widows, Behind the Looking Glass. No thanks to "Woke Slope" Brooklyn on this front.

Expand full comment

Lisa, this is a great topic for discussion. I keep a running list of what I consider to be "the absurdities" of the trans movement and the medicalization of those with so-called GD.

Within the context of whether or not to support medicalization of GD, I would offer the sincere concern about "over diagnosis" and that doctors have no way to know which child/youth will desist and which will not desist. To me that's everything. Because if a doctor cannot know, neither can the parents nor the child him or herself. That means: avoid medicalization because it is overtly harmful (known harms and unknown risks/harms).

So for example, one might ask: how much medical harm are you willing to accept or endorse?

All of that presumes the situation of an open conversation and that itself is not a realistic assumption. In my experience the "no debate" rule applies ferociously in the context of families and schools. Even religious institutions and work-places endorse that (via overt policies and via DEI).

So, more broadly, you can start with a broader rejection of identity politics. For example: since when can medical procedures be inherent to one's identity? Don't we believe that identity arises out of one's actions and achievements rather than via pills and plastic surgery?

Or, you can go straight for the metaphysical: I don't believe in a "self" that exists independently of the body. I do not believe, therefore, that it's possible to be born in the wrong body. That's simply an illogical and counterfactual statement/belief. ... those are fighting words, but if the context is already a debate, I think those are very strong & easily grasped statements.

Expand full comment

I was able to have a clear conversation with a friend ( who strongly believes in trans kids) about the harm in the rush to extreme medical treatment and surgery in the case of back pain. If I can take it out of context in which someone reflexively recites the correct dogma they have been taught, then we can have a meaningful and constructive discussion.

Expand full comment

Folks, before y'all go off half-cocked on going MAGA or whatever just because they get it right on the gender issue, consider this: The far left (the 'wokes') and the far right (the MAGAs) together constitute about 8% of political thought in America - but as extremists, they're the loudest and command the most media time. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. We libs can agree with conservatives, even, occasionally, the far-right on things like immigration or the need to protect kids from the trans-fanatics, esp the doctors, without supporting *everything* or voting for politicians who are toxic to our own interests. Check this story out about political thought in America:


I don't want to 'switch' sides, I'm NOT conservative and probably never will be; but I find common ground with those who lean right but not so far their brains fall out (which is what I say about myself re leaning left). I can't *possibly* vote for Trump even though he's against the trans nuttiness and he's right about immigration; he's such a toxic, morally depraved, and utterly criminal human being that it would be immoral for me to vote for him. I won't vote for Biden either because I won't vote against my own interests - women's - and we are HALF the population. We need to reform from within - level-headed conservatives against their whack jobs, level-headed libs against our own. And we can help each other. I bet I don't like everything X's Republicans Against Trump stand for, but we sure do agree on Trump....and that's something to work with.

Expand full comment
Feb 11·edited Feb 11

"My goal is to properly inform liberals and the left, not to make them see things exactly as I do." Best I can tell, the ethical path you follow matches that of Street Epistemology, which is a way to help people critically reflect on the quality of their reasoning through civil conversation. As you well know, we can't change people's minds for them -- the individual is the only one with the

power to change his or her own mind. -- but none of that can happen without those who have the skill to effectively communicate the evidence, point out the frequently-ignored realities, persist in paraphrasing and re-paraphrasing uncomfortable truths in a way that those who most need to deal with them might eventually listen to it and engage with it in a reasonable way. https://www.navigatingbeliefs.com/products/navigating-beliefs-a-learning-course-for-rational-conversations/

Expand full comment

let the republicans do it. they're taking the time, doing the studys, looking at the evidence, all the things the dems didnt do and wont do. their efforts bring attn to the issue. that attn in itself threatens one of the main tactics gender biz has used to further their cause - its the lack of awareness gender biz has used to their advantage, its much easier to con ppl when done so with no counter info. any counter information to gender biz talking points in the public sphere is a huge blow to the mens rights activists promoting gender ideology.

gender biz activists, lobbyists and PR ppl are buzy creating a fire wall within dems to protect their efforts.

i applaud all the people who wrote they are vocal about how this mens rights movement is using misinformation to harm vulnerable groups and ppl to benefit white men who pretend to be marginalized but actually are part of the most privileged group of our society.

i thank ms. davis for all her efforts over the years, but have always felt she just cant help being soft on the issues, and therby is the perfect target for gender biz activists.

ms. davis' recent fantasy letter started with several paragraphs of info that had nothing to do with the issue. then she said some adults and kids are helped by transitioning - a gender biz talking point. and a huge lie. theres actually zero evidence transitioning helps anyone. UK medical groups BMJ 2023 report "gender dysphoria in youth is rising" explains why some think gender meds help. its not based on evidence. its based on wild claims of quack drs who are getting rich harming vulnerable people. rich democratic donors and lobbyists have spent decades pushing these non- evidenced claims to enact their harmful agenda. even so, despite their efforts, despite the religious furber that surrounds this issue, the fact remains that gender meds and gender affirmation dont help anyone. even if someone says it helped them; thats not evidence in a medical sense. there are plenty of other people who said it harmed them. thats why we cant give credit to these personal accounts: they are meaningless. so are the anonymous online polls run by activists with no cookies to avoid repeated polls takers: the "transgender survey" is activist misinformation. yet here is Lisa Davis in 2024 parroting gender biz claims. then on twitter yesterday i read ms. davis quote " if kids dont transition they will always want to". another gender biz talking point and another lie. every study ever done found most kids grow out of their wish to ID as another gender with puberty, as long as they dont take gender meds. gender biz activists try to counter this fact, but there are zero studys that counter this fact. the study they hold up to counter this, all the participants were 7-12 (too young for puberty when ppl usually desist) and up to half were already using gender meds (gender meds delay desistance by ~ten years). facts are facts. kids desist as long as they stay off the meds. 98% of kids who take blockers for dysphoria go on to hormones that cause permanent loss of sexual function and other life long health catastrophies. but if they dont take gender meds, they grow out of it.

even if kids dont grow out of gender dysphoria, the meds dont help. every systematic review on earth ever done in the history of earth found gender meds dont help kids gender dysphoria. all the Us groups promoting kids to be permanently harmed havent done a systematic review. the aap hasnt done a systematic review if gender meds help. they dont. the claim that they do is a religious backward claim. all the things dems laugh at right wingers for , they now are doing themselves. all the things ms. davis says she believes, she now backtracks on. i wonder why?

Expand full comment
deletedFeb 8
Comment deleted
Expand full comment