I've never commented here before, so would like to begin by thanking you for all you do.

It's taken me a very long time to feel the value of just listening and perceiving the person I'm talking to in any given moment, with an attitude of curiosity. And that has changed my life immensely for the better. That might be something that would be helpful as a response to your question. Not that you "should turn off" – how do you do that, anyway? Summoning that curiosity is not easy when I have many strong feelings and opinions wanting to be expressed. But it's so rewarding. And it helps me refrain from imposing my "agenda" on people and so missing out on what they are bringing to me.

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I think it's helpful to remember that what is important to one person may not be important to another, which is one reason people can get turned off by activism generally. In one way, an activist is saying, "you should care about this as much as I do". The climate activist may say, how can you not care about this? It's the future of the whole world! The child exploitation activist may say, these children are suffering NOW, who cares about global warming? Or in less confrontational terms, "I think what you care about is important, just not as important as this other thing to me." It's a bit of a stoic approach perhaps. No one can control what others think is important but can be ready to communicate the information to a curious mind. And yeah, sometimes with your friends you just need a break from the big stuff and wanna talk about which office Christmas episode is your favorite.

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This is such a great question! You want to go back to very basic conversation skills. Instead of thinking about what you want to tell the other person (or in your case, what you're trying to get away from telling the other person), think about what new and interesting things you can learn about and from the other person. Start creating a collection of open ended questions that you can ask the other person to get them talking about interesting things that relate to them that have nothing to do with gender. For example, questions like: what are you looking forward to doing in the next few weeks? Are there any books you're looking forward to reading? Is there anything you wish you could change about how your week has been going? Basically you want to ask open ended questions that get the person talking about them self and their interests and then finding ways that you can ask more questions and even find ways to relate to their answers and find common ground to further discuss. But I think the biggest help might be to think about how you can build conversations around learning more about other people and what's going on in their lives.

Side note: I'm looking forward to what you have to write on AGPgate, but I'm also really ready for the focus on what he wore and if he should have worn it to be done because there are much more important things I think we need to be good faith discussing about Phil. I don't care what he was wearing at Genspect. My concern is that he has so quickly become seen as an expert in AGP, including by people like Blanchard and Bailey, with people promoting his book as an educational tool and inviting him to speak at professional conferences (and I don't mean Genspect. He wasn't a presenter there. I'm referring to a Professional sex researcher conference earlier this year where he presented). There is too much weight and credulity being given to everything he says because he's so willing and open to talk about his own AGP. I'm not saying that he doesn't have insights to add to the general body of knowledge on AGP, he most certainly does because of how much time he has spent reading the literature and thinking about his own experiences, but I'm concerned by how many people, including thoughtful therapists and academic researchers, are branding him as some sort of expert. Phil's background is an engineering and physics and he is hyper focused on trans-everything (gender, race, age, etc), his personal pet theories, his redefining of key terms (as Lisa noted in her interview with him), and his insistence he's got AAP and the female experience of it figured out. But he does not have the background knowledge or expertise in areas like psychology, developmental disorders such as autism and ADHD, and child and adolescent development to be making the kinds of sweeping statements and claims that he's making with such certainty. (I've also seen him make some statements that show he is profoundly ignorant about how adolescent girls experience puberty and the changes in their bodies) His claims, especially about adolescent females and ROGD, really show his personal biases and lack of knowledge and extremely relevant areas. I was especially bothered by how he got onto Michelle Alleva's brilliant and very thoughtful Twitter post where she shared her graphic representation of how so many of the things she used to believe "proved" she was trans were actually things related to her autism, her mental health issues, or were just completely inaccurate understandings of things. The way he responded to her by insisting that what she saw as her autistic traits we're still in his opinion signs of AAP showed a concerning unwillingness to consider other points of view and an inappropriate forcing of his opinions on her personal understanding of herself.

He acknowledges that J Michael Bailey thinks he is too "bullish" about AAP, but the researchers keep giving him a platform and amplifying his messages. Still isn't just another experienced sex researcher for Bailey to agree or disagree with and debate. He's not a researcher and he doesn't have relevant background knowledge to be making the claims he is. He is also basing a lot of his ideas and theories on his own personal experiences and his own beliefs about himself, which may or may not even be fully accurate. This is a really bad way to do research and I don't understand why he's being held up as such an expert. Should we listen to him? Of course. I'm sure he has a lot of experiences and insight he can bring to this bigger issue of understanding what a GP is and how to best help these young men. But everything he is saying needs to be put in a better perspective and stop being seen as expert or gospel truth.

I don't like naming and targeting Phil specifically because I am concerned about how he's handling all this attention and criticism being focused on him right now. But he is putting himself out there as an expert and other people who are actually experts are amplifying his theories and potentially integrating them into their own practices. As a result I think there needs to be some thoughtful, good faith critiques of his work. That dress and where he wears it are a distraction from a more important issue with him that needs to be addressed

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Dear Lisa: first off, I want to send further wishes for your full recovery and lots and lots of happiness in this new phase of your life. I sure do empathize with the question you raise, and with much less cause, as, while I read and think about this a good bit, and write public officials when there is need, I have nothing like the constant drumbeat of sorrow your daily work brings to you. J and I verbally commit to ourselves before meeting with friends, “this time, we will not bring this up, and just have a pleasant evening. And if someone else brings it up, we vow to listen more than talk, and carefully weigh in with just a fact or two, a la Helen Joyce’s advice, just say one thing, then let it go.

Well, I cannot begin to count the number of times we have each broken that promise! It’s so hard to be so critically aware how many people are hurting, and at the same time to realize so many people, particularly on our side of the aisle, remain in the dark, and with bad information, to boot. I will say this, when we have succeeded, it has been helpful to us, just to have a breather from it all, too. So, yes, cherish the friends you care about, try to give yourself a break and set this aside for a bit. . . . though I confess, even then, we can’t help but look for an opening, and then try our best to tread lightly with real information. We have found that’s been satisfying too, for sometimes friends do actually listen and think and begin to understand why this is all so awful and needs to change.

Well, this is, I’m afraid, a bit stream of consciousness, so I’ll stop. Thank you for all you do, all you are, and most of all for your very big heart.

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Hi Lisa (and everyone else) -

Some thoughts:

1. It is hard for me to turn off the tap, too. I'm getting more skilled at asking the other person questions unrelated to gender and doing long listening.

2. I remind myself that I am not going to change anyone's mind by ranting. Waiting for the right opportunity to plant a seed is challenging.

3. I try to see where the other person is trying to make connections and take them there. It's OK if we are avoiding the elephant in the room if we are making connections in other ways.

It's kind of an adaptation of advice I heard from Lisa Marchiano where staying connected to your child is really the primary goal and to not make everything about the fraught subject. That said, it's hard to let go.

Hope you can take the time you need to recovery from surgery. It will take as long as it needs to take. Be well.

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This comes up for me ALL THE TIME in my lovely yoga world. Most people in this circle are well-intentioned in blindly practicing "inclusion" (as I did before ROGD tore my child's mental health apart). The current language of inclusion is a simple set of rules, while the multifaceted paths to ROGD, social contagion, teen body hatred and control, etc, etc, etc, is complex, nuanced, and difficult to discuss.

So I usually just leave it alone.

But, when I'm asked to introduce myself with my preferred pronouns, I don't. I politely give my name and credentials, smile kindly, and pass it to the next person. I notice that sometimes this seems to give others permission to do the same. It's a small gesture, but it indicates that not everyone is actually comfortable with "the rules".

Usually I don't mention anything about gender anymore in social settings. As an ROGD parent, I became used to the alienation and lack of understanding, the oversimplified catch phrases people use without any knowledge of the devastating consequences (healthcare for trans kids - who would deny that?!). Occasionally, if I feel like there's a window of nuance open, I'll mention that I support people who identify as trans but am concerned about how many teenage females are wearing tight chest binders and how that affects their breathing and nervous systems ( yoga people KNOW the importance of unrestricted breathing). I might mention that my child has at least 10 classmates who do this every day. Maybe it plants a seed in those who already wonder...

My daughter - who spent nearly 2 years trans identified - is now 15, desisted and happy to be a girl. She jokes about when she used to be an "emo boy" and how she simply realized that "boobs are great!". Of course it wasn't that simple for her and she knows it - she also lost friends, missed opportunities, and bears self harm scars from that era of body hatred. But I think she's on to something with her lighthearted technique. She's taking away the power of the claim that all trans kids should be transitioned, confirming that it CAN INDEED be a phase, and essentially brushing it off her shoulder like an old boyfriend, "Thank u, Next!".

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I don't have time for a long reply but wanted you to know I read you're article and these comments. I too am isolated, feel like a pariah in my communities for my GC concerns. I see the situation with tomboys, teenage girls as such an emergency globally; yet my lesbian friends couldn't care less.. my partner and I created a series of 6 discussions in our BLAST MeetUp of florid, Palm beach county, partially too meet like minded women, and no one is signing up

Topics for first 6 meetings

1. Definitions & Women in Sports NOV

2. Lesbian Erasure, Sex Not Gender, Dec

3. Threats to children (talking to family, friends) Jan

4. Loss of women’s rights under law, censorship Feb

5. GC HEROES, Kellie Jay Keen, JK Rowling; etc... Mar

6. How to talk to others Apr

Women aren't interested ugh! I have no friends anymore

Etana in Florida

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Nov 14, 2023·edited Nov 14, 2023

Great question, Lisa! I was thinking about it the other day when I was hanging out with relatives and realized that I have very little to talk about aside from my two main concerns: gender and education, and more specifically how bad education has become in Ontario where I live. I became so engrossed in these issues that I haven't actually read or listened to anything about anything else! So I decided to start actively broadening my interests - watch some shows/movies, maybe read about some historical period about which I know very little. I have yet to act on this, but the intention is there.

I hope you have a speedy and restful recovery!

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Nov 14, 2023·edited Nov 14, 2023

Thank you for all you do Lisa, and I wish for you a good recovery. Take time and take care of yourself.

About your question.

One thing I have struggled with is that this gender issue was the issue that opened my eyes to many weaknesses of "my side." So many of my social groups are all progressive and we have always spent a certain amount of time talking about politics, the world etc etc. And now I distrust so much coming from my side. If my people fell for this gender woo and literally aren't seeing the harm caused, the illogical of it all - how can I trust them on other issues? It has made me question so much. So it isn't only the gender issue I feel "off" about right now. I want to question everything. Is my side's interpretation or ideas for solutions correct about anything? Another issue that mirrors it a lot is the controversy about teaching reading (the podcast "Sold a Story" highlighted this). So many people just went along with something that wasn't making sense and was actually harming those it was supposed to help.

So - I hold back on many issues right now. I'm trying to work on a more passive face and a "huh, interesting" type response. Then divert to non political topics.

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Yesterday I shared an article with my one 30-something relative who agrees with me entirely on the gender issues. Your Substack has been helpful in her journey, as it has for so many Lisa. The article I sent wasn't about gender, it was about Israel, Bari Weiss speaking to the Federalist Society. My relative is heterodox on gender, but has hated Bari since she left the NYT and discounts that anything remotely illuminating could be connected to the Federalist Society. (I mean, I used to do so too! Now I don't automatically disregard a point of view just because it comes from the "wrong" place.) I got a pretty sharp reply responding with language about colonization and saying she couldn't listen to more than a few minutes of it and how could she respect anything from the Federalist Society. I'd obviously irritated her greatly. It's so hard to talk about these subjects that are so polarized--and where a whole generation has been thoroughly indoctrinated with the "right" way to think about a number of subjects--gender, race, and certainly Israel. I'd assumed an openness to some frames about Israel that I should not have assumed. She was right--this was not the best link to send her. I have dived deep into all kinds of media around Israel, partly because I have a good friend who lives on one of the kibbutzim near the Gaza border who has been living through a nightmare. I hear heartbreaking stories from her every day, just like you hear heartbreaking stories about how gender ideology has harmed people. But like with gender, there is a learning curve progressives must go through to see the picture clearly. At least clearly from my point of view. It's a process.

I bring all this up not to hash out views about Israel, but because this prickly reply reminded me to just chill out, express love, back up. I've had a good deal of practice in this with my friends over the past few years with gender. I was glad she was honest, and told her that. I don't need to talk to her about Israel, or if I want her to understand how I am seeing things and what I am thinking I need to be much, MUCH more mindful about what I share with her. Unlike with gender, there is plenty of interesting and varied deep-dive coverage about Israel in the New York Times after all.

When I started trying to communicate with my friends about gender, I had too much zeal. I think a lot of us relate to that. Some got closed off, seemingly forever. I am still sad about them. I have some amazing friends, who still do not agree with me about gender, but still want to be my friends. Their skillful, loving friending is part of the reason we are still friends, and part of it is my own approach. These have taught me to talk about other things, connect on other things, but now and again if I feel something just might get through, I will share it. This issue is important to me and part of who I am, so it is inauthentic and outside my concept of friendship to always avoid it. It's much harder for you Lisa because this is actually your job. I'm not sure how that can work, but I'm pretty sure you can't avoid the topic entirely with some of them. But you don't have to talk about it as much, even if they bring it up. Recently one of my friends who disagrees with me brought it up and I realized I just couldn't go there in that moment, so I said so. Same with you--even more so. You are not "on the job" 24/7. There are some great suggestions in these comments. Another way to think about it is that these people you love keep you honest and help you keep defining your path in life. They are part of you. Life is NOT all about fighting gender ideology and fixing this terrible wrong. You don't have a monopoly on the truth either, which I know you know. There are many terrible wrongs in the world, and we cannot be fighting all the time. Life is precious and short and love matters the most. Enjoy the small and beautiful gifts with your friends where you can find them. Sending you good healing vibes!

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Dear Lisa, you are suffering post-surgical trauma & you need to rest. I understand that your brain can be racing even though your body feels weak. I speak from experience as someone who’s had several major surgeries & know something about how you might be feeling. Perhaps you might try a bit of mindfulness whilst your body is healing. I can’t say much more than that since I don’t know about your particular circumstances. I’d like very much to thank you for the work you do & know that it’s appreciated. Love from your sister in England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿.

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Hey! First, Lisa, thank you for your tireless work on this issue!!!!

Second, parents on here: Anone have a gender dysphoric teen with autism? My MTF was just diagnosed with autism, Level 1 ("high functioning"). My reaction is basically, Of course. This explains everything. His reponse is, This changes nothing. They are starting college in the fall (not sure where yet). I'm just wodnering if anyone has any wisdom to share about ASD and gender vis a vis teens and young adults. Oooof.

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I’m a parent of an ROGD girl. This has occupied my thought nearly 24/7 for the last 4 years, keeping me awake at night, making it hard to concentrate. But I’m getting better at being ok, even if I’m not ok with that.

For me, a hobby has helped. I bought a classic car and am currently restoring it. Great topic of conversation. I also read lots of fiction. Both of these things help keep my mind off of the topic and give me other things to talk to people about.

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Random postings:

Here are some compiled videos from the conference held this September in Santa Fe titled: "Sex/Gender Differences: The Big Conversation." I did not attend but eavesdropped here and there via zoom.


And then there was this sad story which I'm sure many of you read.


There's a lot of angles to this story but one I'd like to emphasize is how the internet has seemingly normalized AGP behaviors to the point where Mr. Copeland felt comfortable sharing his femme persona on social media. It probably didn't seem to him as though he were transgressing because there's an ocean of people like him doing the same thing. My point here is not to vilify this poor guy but to point out that, for many like Mr. Copeland, the internet has become an alternate, more worldly universe where the illusion of societal acceptance prevails. Mr. Copeland's mistake was assuming that alternate world extended to his tiny Alabama community.

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I'm probably going to be the lone troublemaker here who thinks that it's crucial for you NOT to turn off the tap, not to self-censor. Of course you don't want to be overbearing or tedious, but I can't see you being either of those. In the midst of this social and medical insanity I think it's crucial to keep the conversation going, to raise awareness in people who haven't been paying attention.

Part of my reason for saying this is that I'm too good at self-censoring. I'm too afraid of damaging fragile relationships or getting into unpleasant discussions. I admire those of you who aren't afraid to introduce uncomfortable topics and don't take it personally when someone pushes back on what you're saying. One reason I have supported your work is that you so boldly go where wimps like me, who are less articulate and less sure of ourselves, rarely have the courage to go.

If you're intent on turning off the tap, I hope that you're doing it for the reasons you stated. If you're sure that the person you're talking to really doesn't care about your work or the topic of gender, then by all means, avoid the topic. If in fact it's you who are tired of talking about it, then maybe you need a break!

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But Lisa, I’M one of the traumatized whose stories you hear. You are like a priest. It has become your life’s work. However, meditatively, even priests have to be above the fray sometimes when other folks can’t/won’t yet have the knowing. It’s like Joan of Arc, also, hearing and knowing things that have a wider mission attached even though others don’t understand.

I’m glad you are acknowledging healing from surgery has surprised you in that it takes time to heal. Feel better soon. And that’s an incredible quote from the surgeon.

Thank you for the Tuesday Open Thread. Much appreciated to see everyone’s responses and thoughts.

PS (I also have to have a surgery in February 2024. Gulp.)

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Dear Lisa and fellow readers,

I'm wishing you courage and strength for a strong recovery.

For myself, "turning off the tap" often involves biting my tongue (pretty much literally) and deep breathing. Then I consciously turn my attention to other topics and toward what the other person is feeling/expressing.

On another topic: the recent news flurry about the suicide of the small town Alabama mayor & Baptist preacher, Bubba Copeland, had me transfixed this weekend. I wrote a short opinion piece on what's wrong with the journalists' representation of the story, but now I'm not sure what to do with the essay. This comes at a difficult time for you, but one person did recommend that you might be interested in it.

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Hi, all: I know some here have addressed the issue that arose re Genspect. I have hesitated to weigh in, as I was not there, but I saw another tweet today that concerned me, this one from James Lindsay, who I gather spoke at the conference, and I felt I had an obligation to speak up. I want to note at the outset that I do respect the concerns raised by several women, which I think Heather Heyring put very well in her Substack piece on the incident: “Even if it is true that any particular man will not behave in a predatory way to women, the public display of fetish opens up doors to predators who would. We had a social contract that did a good job of keeping women safe. Public display of fetish begins to dismantle that contract.”

That said, I tend to think enough ink has been spilled on the person himself. At this point what concerns me more is some of the commentary on Twitter in response to the very valid concerns some women raised. Here is Lindsay’s comment today, together with his Twitter handle:

James Lindsay, manspreading into feminist angst


Dumb feminist hags think they can struggle me. They don't get it. I don't just not care about them. I don't respect them. I don't like them. They're powerless over me. It's a joke and fun for me to mock and expose.

At a minimum, comments like this show bad judgment and a lack of professionalism, as well as having the potential to undermine the goal all of us are trying so hard to achieve. Particularly as Genspect has done and is doing so much good work, and has profiled so many people I admire, I hope this behavior will not be brushed aside and will be taken seriously.

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Nov 14, 2023·edited Nov 14, 2023

Why does anyone trust Phil Illy? Because he wrote a book? Because he purports to be honest about his condition? Because he gave interviews? I don't trust him, not one little bit.

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As a « different » person, most of the things I am interested in and passionate about aren’t interesting to anyone around me. I have to refrain from talking about mostly everything with them. Because of that, I am completely isolated and lonely. This is not any helpful for you, but I would say, just find a passion. I recently started playing the bass, at 41, and I got super interested and it shifted my attention to less controversial and disturbing topics ( gender, drag queens, socialism, pollution, overpopulation). It rejuvenates the discourse when you shift your gaze and people are less... scared.

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Lisa, wishing you a speedy and full recovery.

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Hope healing is thorough for you Lisa. I have enjoyed reading your stack since I was introduced to it a few months ago with the onset of working with PARENTS & FAMILY of ROGD kids & teens. This is an easy space to come to to learn & be cognizant of what is transpiring in genderland currently. I continue to try & reach parents/family members in MARYLAND who may be suffering, looking for counseling/support through the gendermaze. Of course we know, gender is a misguided human construct based on judgements & stereotypes (thanks John M). I can be found on Psychology Today & GETA. I know you're out there...I'm looking for you too.

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Great question. I try to remember (sometimes successfully) that each of us only has mental spece for one issue and I don't appreciate being judged for not caring (deeply) about their issue.

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I try to keep a list of some things (either in my mind or on paper) that I find interesting that are not gender related so I can pull those things out when I'm with people who don't want to talk about the gender stuff. This works a large part of the time. It has also helped me remember and refocus on some other things in life that matters to me outside the gender space. Sometimes these other things seem really trivial and it takes work to keep the conversation from straying. But I have found that this approach has preserved some of my strained friendships. And has probably helped preserve some of my own sanity as well. My other technique is that when I have a burning thought or article that I catch myself gearing up to share with the disinterested folks, I just stop mid-text, delete and then instead send it to one of my friends that are in the "gender headspace." This helps as well!

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It is likely that you are suffering from secondary (if not primary) PTSD. Check out the EVERY MEMORY DESERVES RESPECT book and consider some EMDR therapy if you haven’t already. It’s an efficient way to shift trauma reactions and allow for a more grounded, balanced life experience. We need to sort out what we can and cannot change, how much any one person can accomplish, and how to restore ourselves to live with more effectiveness and joy in the midst of personal and social challenges beyond our maladaptive trauma responses.

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A few random thoughts in response to your question ...

*Not spending time with people with whom we disagree fuels the polarization that is rampant in our country.

*If they are friends, maybe you could just put it out there ... "I'm struggling to leave my work/passion behind. Do you guys have thoughts about that?"

*I understand what some have said about spreading the word - and I think this is so VERY important! But, there is also value in realizing - sometimes - that not everyone wants to hear it or that "spreading" isn't appropriate at this time.

*As a parent, I've come to realize that you may not be the person that these people will be able to hear. In other words, my children can't hear what I'm saying - but they can get the exact same message loudly and clearly from someone else!

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