- Hardcover: 264 pages
- Publisher: Encounter Books (February 20, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594039615
- ISBN-13: 978-1594039614
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 126 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment Hardcover – February 20, 2018
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—Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
When Harry Became Sally is an eminently readable and insightful guide for all who find themselves perplexed by today’s debates on gender identity. Ryan Anderson’s analysis of the ideas that are fueling the transgender movement, their human costs and their political implications will be a valuable resource for parents, educators and policy makers.
—Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University, and author of Rights Talk and A Nation Under Lawyers.
For an informed and sensitive presentation of gender identity issues, When Harry Became Sally is a must-read book. It is especially a must for those in psychiatry, psychology and counselling.
—Paul Vitz, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, New York University, and Senior Scholar, Institute for the Psychological Sciences.
I always read Ryan Anderson with great admiration. When Harry Became Sally is an always focused, informative, fair-minded, lucid and fact-based guide to just and reasonable policies in place of government- and corporation-mandated falsification of science, medicine, public records and history; suppression of free speech and family rights; and many-sided, often irreversible injustice to the vulnerable.
—John Finnis, Professor of Law & Legal Philosophy Emeritus, University of Oxford.
“Do no harm” is a fundamental tenet of medical ethics. But sadly―as shown by Ryan Anderson’s careful examination of the research―people with gender dysphoria are now commonly given treatments that involve grave health hazards and few (if any) lasting benefits. Regardless of political persuasion, all concerned citizens, especially parents, policymakers, and healthcare professionals, should give serious consideration to the evidence presented in this thoughtful and balanced book.
—Melissa Moschella, Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics, Department of Medicine, Columbia University.
Ryan Anderson forthrightly calls out the suspension of disbelief that has led us into ever more bizarre denials of reality, blindfolding our eyes and our heads in the name of political ideology and ensuring the suffering of the mentally ill. Everyone concerned with the welfare of children should read When Harry Became Sally.
—Margaret A. Hagen, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University.
People who experience gender dysphoria deserve to be treated with compassion, kindness, and respect―just like everyone else. It is wrong to despise them, ridicule them, or disrespect them in other ways. As Ryan Anderson shows in his rigorously argued critique of transgender ideology, we can speak and stand up for the truth while loving those who identify as transgender as our neighbors. When Harry Became Sally confirms Anderson’s standing as one of our nation’s most gifted young intellectuals, and without doubt the most fearless.
—Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University.
Ryan Anderson takes up the challenging topic of the “transgender moment” in a clear and biologically well-informed manner. He writes in a thoughtful and accessible manner, and he succeeds in his goal of providing “a sober and honest survey of the human costs of getting human nature wrong.” When Harry Became Sally raises important questions for anyone who is sincerely concerned about the wellbeing of those struggling with their gender identity.”
—Maureen Condic, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Utah.
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So far as I can tell, there are many denunciations of Anderson as a bigot and symbolic book burnings by trans advocates. What there is not, is a sustained, rational and sincere effort by Anderson's critics to engage his arguments. Not that that matters in America of 2018, where the buzzwords of identity politics ("inclusive," "diversity," "lived experience") trump both clear thinking and civic disagreement. One can only hope that there are at least some open minded people out there who are genuinely interested in hearing the arguments and the evidence before making up there minds as to whether it is a good idea for schools, psychiatrists and the state to urge five year old children to use puberty blocking drugs. Personally, I am as supportive of adult transgender rights like nondiscrimination in employment and housing as I am sickened by the abuse of children at the hands of gender ideologues. Progressives, who live constantly under the fear of the judgment of History, should think long and hard about how History will judge those who are complicit in this crime.
If there is one flaw in this book, it is that Anderson does not adequately engage with the issues of transgender rights in employment, housing, healthcare, government services, and the military. In employment for instance, I can think of no good reason why an employer should be allowed to fire or refuse to promote someone simply because they are transgender. Granted, this is not Anderson's topic; but signaling to rational and compassionate critics of trans-kids ideology how these issues differ from one another would have been theoretically important and probably politically prudent.
In regards to point (1), there was a largely objective tone until the author brought up his arguments against same-sex marriage. That sort of thing could put off moderates or liberals from being open to this book, and would've been excusable if it had added something to the conversation, but it really didn't. This slant didn't go away, it actually increased, with the author at one point thanking God for honest liberals who are: "willing to report the truth even when it's politically inconvenient." Not all liberals are championing transgenderism, not to mention the fact that this unnecessary addition could again, easily put off people who are moderate or liberal. Then, it gets strange when the author says: "When thoughts are utterly disconnected from reality, persistently false and unfounded, idiosyncratic (i.e., not socially or culturally promoted), they take us from confused to delusional." First of all, being disconnected from reality is a far cry from having some taste or behavior that is "not socially or culturally promoted." For perspective, at one time, interracial relations were "not socially or culturally promoted." That is not even remotely close to having the persistent delusion that you are a different sex or that you're Napoleon Bonaparte.
In regards to point (2), there were two important things that came to mind that were missing from the research. As a note, I've read the studies myself (not articles about them, the actual studies themselves). The first issue comes in relation to cross-sex hormones. Here are some points consistently left unaddressed in studies:
1. I have not read a single study that explicitly documented whether the transgender people studied had cross-sex hormone treatment prior to brain scans.
2. I have not read a single study that tested the transgender people studied to ascertain whether they were taking cross-sex hormones or not. (To verify their personal testimonies, thus ensuring the validity of the study.)
3. I have not read a single study that tested the transgender people studied to ascertain whether they presented with higher cross-sex hormones, naturally.
All of these things are incredibly important because when a person has a larger amount of cross-sex hormones in their system (whether naturally or administered), it changes the white matter to gray matter ratio in their brain, causing it to appear more like the opposite sex. Without these precautions being explicitly taken, these studies could essentially be self-fulfilling prophesies. That is, of course, a male with more estrogen (whether naturally or administered) will have a more "female" white matter to gray matter ratio — you don't even need to do a brain scan to know that.
The second issue is the glaring omission of a study which found a different formation in transgender people's brains, which was not found in the brains of non-transgender people. The people conducting this study hypothesized that this formation was responsible for these individuals misidentifying their own bodies. This is a very reasonable hypothesis given the fact that formations in the brain are also associated with psychosis and schizophrenia — both of which involve different than normal perceptions of reality. It's important to note that both psychosis and schizophrenia are typically treated with medications rather than exclusively relying on talk therapy. If transgenderism is indeed similar to them, this would not mean cross-sex hormone therapy (or gender-related surgery), but rather a medication used to treat this formation in the brain (perhaps similar to the neuroleptics used to treat the aforementioned disorders).
Now, in regards to the testimonials, they were incredibly partial. The author does recognize that some people find "transition" useful to alleviate discomfort, and seems to respect that behavior, provided that the individual is of a mature age to make that decision for themselves. The problem is, there are some transgender individuals who have "transitioned" but who recognize that they are not the sex that they wish to be. This is an important thing, because in this case, the person is not "deluded." There was actually a well-known transgender blogger who held this position. While this individual was male and had surgery to become feminized, there was the explicit recognition that this didn't turn them female. This person had a relationship with another transgender male and openly recognized that they were not a lesbian couple, but a gay male couple. This is not to say that this is a great situation to be in. This person experienced a lot of discomfort from being transgender and a lot of backlash from the transgender community for recognizing the impossibility of a "sex change." But, there was no delusion present. The understanding that transgenderism may not involve a delusion is not something I saw in this book (it's rarely something I ever see brought up). But, that is a reality worth mentioning, as it helps to create a more full picture of how transgenderism can manifest.
Overall, I really found nothing new here and I found the shortcomings and unnecessarily divisive language to be fundamentally unappealing. I think that if you're just starting to research transgenderism, you might find this useful as a starting point (particularly if you don't find the slanting to be off-putting). But, if you've done research and read studies for yourself, there's nothing new here, and it may just try your patience to slog through this.
Rating: 2.5 rounded up to 3