When Harry Became Sally

When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement
© 2018 Ryan Anderson
251 pages

In the summer of 2015, a former non-issue affecting an extreme minority became, seemingly overnight, a mainstream talking point. All manner of individuals suddenly began announcing they were lopping off body parts and bombarding themselves with chemicals to change their sex, and instead of this being treated like a previously ignored mental issue, it was instead exhalted to the heights — it became a civil rights matter, with strongarm action by the Obama-driven state to boot. When people began getting hit with fines for refusing to use proper pronouns, I realized: we’re deeper in the abyss than I realized. Attempting to make sense of all this is When Harry Became Sally, a criticism of trans-activism which is compassionate, but pointed – so much so  that Amazon pulled it from stores, throwing down the memoryhole. No independent thoughts for you, peasant!  Watch our latest sex-and-violence filled show, instead. 

When Harry Met Sally is not a condemnation of those individuals who experience or claim to experience gender dysphoria;  Anderson draws from interviews with people in transition, and frequently reminders readers to be respectful and considerate of people’s pain. His target is the inappropriate medical and governmental response to the issue of dysphoria, which often prevent afflicted individuals from potentially overcoming their distress, while permanently marring victims’ bodies and forcing  all of society to pretend A is not A, and that a man in a dress is not a man, but in fact a woman — often under penalty of fines or being condemned as a bigot. (Pro tip:   to avoid caring about such judgment, identify as a straight white male. You will then be written off so often as a racist, a sexist, a chauvinist, a –phobe of varying prefixes, that clatter of condemnation will simply fade into the background as irrelevant noise, like traffic.)  

Anderson begins by presenting and evaluating the claims of trans activists, an extremely vocal minority whose opinions do not represent most of those allege dysphoria. He then features  interviews from people who have de-transitioned, or tried to —   medical and surgical alterations in this case are usually irreversible to some degree, as surgically removed parts won’t grow back, synthetic parts are limited,  and broken voice boxes or sabotaged testes do not self repair.  In his final section, Anderson covers the legal changes sought for or obtained by the previously mentioned minority, and comments on the ramifications – -the increased exposure of women to sexual violence, for instance, and the disappearance of man/woman as meaningful language.  (The results of that are sometimes as amusing as they are exasperating – witness the sudden invasion of women’s sports by men in drag.  How’s that for progress, ladies?)  Anderson draws from a wide spectrum of individuals, none of whom could be conceivably connected to social conservatism by any stretch of the imagination.  

There are several criticisms of trans-activism developed within the book, but I’ll share only a few.   Anderson attacks the goals of activists as well the results. No one has ever ‘transitioned’ from male to female, or the reverse; at best,  what has been achieved is the masculization or the feminization of one’s appearance.  Biological sex is fundamental to the development of a human being, and is oriented with a purpose; male and female are not random variations like darker or lighter skin, or attached versus free earlobes,  but  instead are critical for reproduction. There is no generic human being; we are inherently formed by our sex. There are cultural and individual variations as to how masculinity or femininity are expressed, but the core nature is there.  Anderson then  examines how treatment of dysphoria is severely distorted:  intervention in the form of chemical treatments begins almost immediately, after one or two meetings with a psychiatrist, despite the fact that dysphoria often has psychological roots which individuals can recover from on their own, or in therapy. Many of the women interviewed here discovered that their dysphoria was really self-hatred or internalized misogyny, for instance. (Not mentioned, but of interest: Ted Kaczynski once began the sex change process, but backed off after realizing a misplaced desire for feminine connection had created the desire.)  This potential for recovery is derailed by aggressive use of hormones to masculinize or feminize one’s appearance, reinforcing the dysphoria rather than abating it.   The fact that intervention does little to help dysphoria is sadly evidenced in the tragically high suicide rate among transitioners.  Despite all this,   political forces seem hell-bent on making gender fluidity  sacrosanct, beyond question – like the efficacy of surgical masks against viruses, another new dogma which our new tech-overlords will purge you for questioning.  

For those seeking to learn more about the claims of the activists, or to understand what actually happens to those in transition, and what a mess is being made of language and civil liberties in the name of justice, When Harry Became Sally recommends itself. It could have easily been a screed, pointing the finger at those suffering from confusion and demanding reaction. It was not, and the author goes out of his way to appeal to our better angels, not our worse ones, despite that the positions advocated by some activists amount to theft, political persecution, and child abuse. After reading it, I cannot fathom why Amazon would bar it from shelves, but such is the state of current mass society. The ideals of the American republic have been forgotten and thrown away, not only by DC but by Americans themselves, who seem just as eager to devour one another in ideological hatred as the Chinese of the cultural revolution.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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9 Responses to When Harry Became Sally

  1. Cyberkitten says:

    Its probably my age but I do find the whole thing to be very, very strange…….

    • It’s not just you. I’m at least half your age, used to frequent a forum (AVEN) where sexual and gender variance were the norm, and I still find it bizarre. My pet theory is that all of the political energy behind gay marriage suddenly had no goal to push for after the Obergefell decision, and so transgender activism was embraced — to the ongoing dismay and exclusion of many gay men and women, from what I can tell.

  2. Cyberkitten says:

    @ work we had the whole Identity thing and we were asked to fill out personal details about ourselves so that the Company looked good on their published stats. One of the questions was about the gender you had been ‘assigned’ at birth. I VERY loudly said that I had not been ‘assigned’ a gender but that the midwife, shortly after slapping my new born ass, turned to my mother and said “Congratulations, its a boy.”

  3. This is a bold post and I commend you for it. It is insane and I suspect it is part of political figures using it in order to enact government overreach. I believe that’s why same sex marriage became an issue. Also abortion. I don’t think the proponents care about women’s “reproductive rights” or homosexuals. Their intent is to create a “victim” demograph, present their political party as the demograph’s “saviors” and then misappropriate government, especially, judiciary power unto themselves and steal voting rights and power from the citizens of our country.

    It angers me how they will exploit tragedy, like shootings, and turn it into a political ploy to ban guns. They don’t care about guns. They care about government over reach.

    They use cheap language to present themselves as concerned “parents” who will take care of their “children”, when all they’re concerned about is obtaining political power.

    • This one is toned down a bit! After the last two years my patience for being dictated or talked down to is practically nonexistent, made worse by the flagrant irrationality of those doing the lecturing.

      I definitely agree about the state or a party within the state using this to expand its own power — with the war on terror finally fading, and public support for the war on drugs faltering, they need another Great Crusade to keep the money flower and the power concentrating in their hands. Now it’s the War on Rona!

      Have you noticed how yahoo and MSN seem determined to share EVERY single corona death if it happens to someone who isn’t vaccinated, especially if they voiced opposition to mandates? It’s almost risible.

      • And according to my husband, 70% of the population is vaccinated, but the CoVid cases or deaths due to CovVd has not gone down one iota.
        And I think it’s interesting how people like Collin Powell were vaccinated, but still died of CoVid. According to sources, that is. I mean he also had cancer, but whatever.
        In fact the handful of people I know who died of CoVid all had other health issues.

        I’d like to see comparison numbers of death rates due to CoVid as opposed to death rates due to normal flu or pneumonia.

        And I have nursing friends who think that Vaccine is garbage and won’t get it.

      • Infections are happening a lot with the vaccinated group, and we’re told that the vaccines don’t prevent you from becoming sick, they merely mitigate the symptoms and prevent the infection from having terrible symptoms. That strikes me as a strange kind of vaccine, to say the least!

        I’m thankful what when I was in the hospital, they were completely satisfied that I had antibodies, and didn’t push the vaccine. I may take it down the road if absolutely necessary for a transplant, but until then I see no reason for taking on extra risk (heart inflammation) for no gain to me — especially when I have the fun of being a rebel at present. 🙂

  4. I guess we’re Southern Rebels, but for completely different reasons than from the 19th century ones.

  5. Cyberkitten says:

    I’ve been giving this some thought (or should I say additional thought). Without doing any research I’d bet that the present Identity Crisis as well as Identity politics is almost exclusively a ‘thing’ in the ‘West’. Furthermore, I’d say that the phenomena is *largely* limited to urban centers and to people under 30. We are by nature tribal creatures. We are wired to be happiest in small groups (around 30) and within small communities (around 150). In this circumstance we know exactly who we are and exactly where we ‘fit’. But such a world hardly exists any more. The ‘modern’ world – with the US being an outlier in this regard (which would indicate to me that the Identity Crisis would be more pronounced there) – is a place were we hardly know our neighbour, were we move house and job on a regular basis, were we no longer have faith in just about anything. In essence Modernity has produced (with the concerted effort of Free Market Capitalism) a ‘free floating’ population without roots, without foundations and without a tribe. I’m not at all surprised that Social Media platforms were developed so recently (and largely in the US again – the place with the greatest perceived need) to attempt to address the issue of lost community. Naturally they are a very poor substitute for the real thing. But people NEED roots. They NEED to know who they are and were they ‘fit’. But many people I suspect live in a world of ‘chaos’ where they do not feel as if they have a great deal of agency. One area where agency can be established with confidence is over your own body. You can determine what goes into it (one element of the anti-vax movement) and what is done to it (abortion ditto). But there’s another element too – that oh so messy area of sex.

    Now MOST people are heterosexual. There’s no getting away from that. Meanwhile a significant percentage of people are homosexual and that’s always been a fact. But as with most things its not a case of being only either-or. There will always be people who don’t fit into either category so a plethora of sub-categories have been created to cover this obvious truth about human nature. Along with a lack of (and desperate need for) a foundational identity this recategorisation of sexuality not only produces an identity that people can hold onto and internalise it is indeed a lifebelt being offered to drowning people – which is why they defend it so much. To some people (and unfortunately in the present world a growing number of people) Identity politics doesn’t just seem like a matter of life and death, it IS a matter of psychological life and death. So, without writing an entire dissertation here Identity politics is, in my opinion anyway, an unexpected consequence of Modernity.

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