THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER and a Times, Spectator and Observer Book of the Year
‘In the first decade of this century, it was unthinkable that a gender-critical book could even be published by a prominent publishing house, let alone become a bestseller.’ Louise Perry, New Statesman
‘Thank goodness for Helen Joyce.’ Christina Patterson, Sunday Times
‘Reasonable, methodical, sane, and utterly unintimidated by extremist orthodoxy, Trans is a riveting read.’ Lionel Shriver
‘A tour de force.’ Evening Standard
Gender identity ideology is about more than twitter storms and using the right pronouns. In just ten years, laws, company policies, school and university curricula, sport, medical protocols, and the media have been reshaped to privilege self-declared gender identity over biological sex.
People are being shamed and silenced for attempting to understand the consequences of redefining ‘man’ and ‘woman’. While compassion for transgender lives is well-intentioned, it is stifling much-needed inquiry into the significance of our bodies.
If we recommit to our liberal values of freedom of belief, freedom of speech and robust debate, we can de-escalate this most vicious of culture wars.
Economist journalist Joyce challenges the idea that "people should count as men or women according to how they feel and what they declare, instead of their biology" in this alarmist critique of "transactivism." Characterizing gender self-identification as a "belief system" akin to reincarnation, Joyce traces the origins of gender theory to Judith Butler and other feminist academics in the 1990s, and recounts the story of Christine Jorgensen, who became synonymous with "sex change" in the 1950s. Though Joyce acknowledges that a "suffering minority" of people struggle with gender dysphoria ("misery caused by cross-sex feelings"), she contends that "the truth is that we are our bodies, and our bodies are our selves," and calls the use of hormone blockers to delay puberty in gender-dysphoric children a "medical scandal." Joyce also suggests links between homophobia and transitioning, and autism and cross-sex identification. Testimonials from "detransitioners" who have returned to identifying as their biological sex buttress Joyce's arguments, though she makes no effort to speak with people who have happily transitioned, and doesn't present statistics on how many people come to regret their surgical and hormonal treatments. Ultimately, Joyce's unwillingness to take the claims of trans people seriously undermines her arguments, and her talk of the billionaires, academics, and profit-hungry healthcare companies behind "gender-identity ideology" has elements of conspiracy thinking. This one-sided takedown comes up short.