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To Escape the Body: A Review of Helen Joyce’s Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, pt. 5 – Conclusion and Discussion

Part 1 – The History of Transgenderism: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported,

Part 2 – the Causes and Rationalization of Transgenderism: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported,

Part 3 – How Transgenderism Harms Women And Children: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported,

Part 4 – How Transgenderism Took Over Institutions And How Some Women Are Fighting Back: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported,

Part 5 – Conclusion and Discussion: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported,

How Much Was Covered In The Series?

Firstly, I just want to say that, if you’ve read the book, you’ll know that I picked information and arguments out of reading order. That is, Joyce’s book is a list of chapters that can mostly be read out of order, but her original list isn’t how I organized my posts. There was a great deal of jumping around.

Secondly, I did skip a few sections, including the entirety of a chapter that contained nothing new or useful. For those are currently reading or plan to read the book, it would be chapter 12.

Overall Impression

I had gone into this book expecting a great deal more. I knew that Joyce was gender-critical, but I expected stronger argumentation or attempts at finding examples of what Joyce was concerned about. As it stands, the book isn’t bad, but it can come off as polemic.

The minimal citations hurt the book’s credibility. There were times that I wanted to know where Joyce was getting some information and I had to do my own research because she didn’t give a citation in the references at the end or just in passing (“Study X titled Y from Z”). You would think you were reading a US high school student’s essay if you took a look at the number of references.

Does this mean that Joyce is wrong on the details? Not for the most part, I think. Most of her history probably comes from How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States, which is a book that does have an extensive reference list.

I think Joyce has the history, harms, and ideological tenets mostly correct, but there’s a weakness in her arguments about the science, which is less forgivable when you realize this book didn’t come out in 2001, but in 2021. I’m not arguing her representations of the science are wrong, just that her arguments don’t really make you believe she’s considered the opposition’s arguments and evidence.

There’s also a very culture-warry practice in this book where Joyce fires arguments she doesn’t even necessarily care about. This results in sections that are too big to ignore, but too small to fully flesh out the argument with the amount of evidence needed to really justify it, and perfect for inciting long arguments between people who agree with her and those who find the arguments as presented in the book lacking. The best example of this is the part where she accuses rich, white, male billionaires of controlling the TRM.

Other Reviews

This book has obviously been reviewed by others, you can find a pretty good list on Wikipedia. There are multiple people who praise it for being an excellent analysis of the TRM, but a few acknowledge, like I do, that it has its shortcomings.

Jesse Singal ultimately agrees with me that the book is short on citations and on considerations for the arguments the opposition has made. Gaby Hinsliff doesn’t find it bad, but criticizes Joyce for making arguments without spending enough time on developing them further. She suggests Kathleen Stock’s Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism.

For the people who criticize more strongly, you can check out this review by a law professor who also suggests Material Girls to be a better book, though ultimately rejects them both.

Shout Outs

Lastly, I want to highlight some important responses which I think greatly added to the discussion across the 3 places I posted. I encourage you to check them out, though the last two link to a website which takes a certain amount of cavalierness to engage with.

/u/woodD was a frequent and important trans commenter who pushed back, generating good discussion. See these comments: 1, 2.

/u/gemmaem had a good comment about puberty blockers and desistance.

/u/professorgerm had an interesting point about the differences between the TRM and previous movements, along with a hypothetical about the same-sex marriage movement.

There was a thread about the social pressure on men to transition.

@gattsuru had an informative comment regarding puberty blocker clinical trials and the Canadian trans kid case mentioned in part 3.

@Folamh3 argued that the use of male/female to refer to sex and man/woman to refer to gender is not as widely held as some might thinkg.

Lastly, I just want to mention that I’m going to update all posts so that you can find all discussion threads from the links at the top.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed!

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Regarding numbers, here's an example. The census in England and Wales gave the same number of "trans men" as "trans women". 48,000 of each.

I refused to answer that census question as it was wrong. I don't "identify with" a "gender". I don't have a "gender identity". The fact that I'm a man is simply a fact. Like the fact that I'm NN[1] years old.

[1] - Personally identifying information withheld because the movement making insane demands on behalf of this group of "oppressed people" (according to Scott) controls government, media, academia, the charitable sector, the corporate sector, the tech monopolies, etc and thus has the power to ruin the lives of anyone disagreeing with those insane demands. And the spite to use that power, gleefully, at every opportunity.

Regarding male vs female and man vs woman, I agree, it's a mess.

I have always been very reluctant to have a change in the definition of man & woman imposed on me. I didn't used to think about male & female much. It was only after reading articles like this that I realised screwing with those words is even worse.

So of course, that's exactly what the politicians in my country have done. Here, you can allegedly change your sex, by going through a legal process. I guess that's what they call a legal fiction.

There was a thread about the social pressure on men to transition.

The issue is that a boy/man fed enough misandry to believe it may develop gender dysphoria (alongside, y'know, depression), for which the correct response is "get him the fuck away from the misandrists and it should self-resolve" but the current response is "put him through transition".

You are right that this is older than the 2010s - I can personally testify to that, being such a man - but the 2010s have both made misandry much louder than the handful of crazies beforehand and made the transition option much more likely to be taken in such cases (due to greater awareness, lower standards for sign-offs, and punishments for e.g. parents attempting to obstruct the process).