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Steven Pinker vs. transgender people

Steven Pinker is a Canadian-American evolutionary psychologist, linguist, and central figure in anti-transgender extremism.

Pinker is a major supporter of J. Michael Bailey‘s 2003 anti-transgender book The Man Who Would Be Queen. Pinker and many other members of Steve Sailer‘s Human Biodiversity Institute were key figures in promoting Bailey’s book in 2003.

Pinker is frequently involved in academic controversies, particularly around race, gender, and eugenics. Pinker is a key connector in the so-called intellectual dark web, a gateway to the far right.


Steven Arthur Pinker was born in 1954.

Pinker moved to Harvard in 2003 after 20 years at MIT working in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department. Pinker is the author of many books on mind and language, including:

  • The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language
  • Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language
  • How the Mind Works

Pinker is a hereditarian, believing that genes are far more important than environment in shaping who we are. Pinker falsely claims that ideological opponents believe in a blank slate, where everyone begins the same until social forces change us.

Logrolling for J. Michael Bailey

Pinker is quoted twice in Joseph Henry Press publicity for J. Michael Bailey‘s 2003 anti-transgender book The Man Who Would Be Queen.

On the book’s back cover:

“With a mixture science, humanity, and fine writing, J. Michael Bailey illuminates the mysteries of sexual orientation and identity in the best book yet written on the subject. The Man Who Would Be Queen may upset the guardians of political correctness on both the left and the right, but it will be welcomed by intellectually curious people of all sexes and sexual orientations. A truly fascinating book.” — Steven Pinker, Peter de Florez Professor, MIT, and author of How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature”

Joseph Henry Press marketing materials (unattributed):

J Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen is an engaging book on the science of sexual orientation. …highly sympathetic to gay and transsexual men…” — The Guardian (London), June 28, 2003

Below is the full review:

J Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen (Joseph Henry) is an engaging book on the science of sexual orientation. Though highly sympathetic to gay and transsexual men, it has ignited a firestorm by claiming that transsexuals are not women trapped in men’s bodies but have either homosexual or autoerotic motives. 

Pinker’s writing was also used in Bailey’s since-canceled Human Sexuality class.

Anti-trans logrolling

Anti-trans activists and extremists frequently defend Pinker with the same zeal seen in defenses of other celebrity transphobes like J.K. Rowling.

Jesse Singal defended Pinker in the New York Times, writing: “The idea that Mr. Pinker, a liberal, Jewish psychology professor, is a fan of a racist, anti-Semitic online movement is absurd on its face, so it might be tempting to roll your eyes and dismiss this blowup as just another instance of social media doing what it does best: generating outrage.”


Smith, James A. (November 1, 2018). Steven Pinker and Jordan Peterson: the missing link between neoliberalism and the radical right. openDemocracy

Ward, Justin (June 12, 2019). Steven Pinker’s alt-right apologia. Medium

Havens, Kiera (June 13, 2013). Box of Rocks #3 — Never Change. Medium

Pinker S (27 June 2003). Pages for Pleasure. The Guardian.,12084,986174,00.html

Rogers A (August 27, 2019). Jeffrey Epstein and the Power of Networks. Wired.

Aldhous P (July 12, 2019). Jeffrey Epstein’s First Criminal Case Was Helped By A Famous Harvard Language Expert. Buzzfeed News.

Singal, Jesse (January 11, 2018). Social Media Is Making Us Dumber. Here’s Exhibit A. New York Times

Unintentional hilarity from the Times.


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