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Andrea Long Chu and transgender people

Andrea Long Chu is an American writer and critic whose work frequently focuses on sex and gender.

Chu won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2023.


Chu was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1992 and grew up in a Christian household in Asheville, North Carolina. Chu earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University in 2014 and a master’s degree from New York University in 2016.

Chu has written numerous book reviews and interviewed many notable public figures.

Writing on sex and gender

Much of Chu’s work is deliberately provocative. In 2018, Chu presented two works on sissy subculture and wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times titled “My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy.”

The thesis for Chu’s 2019 book Females is that “everyone is female and everyone hates it.”

Who’s Afraid of Gender? review (2024)

In 2024, Chu reviewed Who’s Afraid of Gender? by Judith Butler in New York Magazine. Chu gives an excellent overview of the influence of Butler’s work on transgender rights. The piece is also notable for tracing the recent history of the anti-transgender movement. It lays part of the blame on those who embrace disease models of our community: “We must be able to defend this desire clearly, directly, and — crucially — without depending on the idea of gender.”

Chu notes the same tipping point in anti-trans activism that many trans people immediately noted:

In 2018, The Atlantic published a long cover story by the reporter Jesse Singal called “When Children Say They’re Trans,” focusing on the clinical disagreements over how to treat gender-questioning youth. The story provided a template for the coverage that would follow it. First, it took what was threatening to become a social issue, hence a question of rights, and turned it back into a medical issue, hence a question of evidence; it then quietly suggested that since the evidence was debatable, so were the rights.

Chu (2024)

Chu identifies three groups that compose the anti-trans bloc in America today:

  • the religious right
  • gender critical feminists (TERFs)
  • trans-agnostic reactionary liberals (TARLs)

Chu notes that the key outlet for the third group is the New York Times:

The Times is not alone; it is one of many respectable publications, including The Atlantic and The Economist, engaged in sanitizing the ideas promoted by TARLs in the more reactionary corners of the media landscape. Here one finds journalists like Singal, Matthew Yglesias, Matt Taibbi, Andrew Sullivan, Helen Lewis, Meghan Daum, and, of course, former Times staffer Bari Weiss. Many of these writers live in self-imposed exile on Substack, the newsletter platform, where they present themselves as brave survivors of cancellation by the woke elites. But they are not a marginal force.

Chu (2024)

We will never be able to defend the rights of transgender kids until we understand them purely on their own terms: as full members of society who would like to change their sex. It does not matter where this desire comes from. When the TARL insinuates again and again that the sudden increase of trans-identified youth is “unexplained,” he is trying to bait us into thinking trans rights lie just on the other side of a good explanation.

Chu (2024)

I am speaking here of a universal birthright: the freedom of sex. This freedom consists of two principal rights: the right to change one’s biological sex without appealing to gender and the right to assume a gender that is not determined by one’s sexual biology. One might exercise both of these rights toward a common goal — transition, for instance — but neither can be collapsed into the other. 

Chu (2024)

Selected publications

Chu AL (March 11, 2024). Freedom of Sex: The moral case for letting trans kids change their bodies. New York

  • Coleman, Madeleine Leung (March 15, 2024). Gender Identity Is Not Enough, [interview about Chu’s piece] The Critics / New York

Chu AL (2019). The Impossibility of Feminism. differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 30, no. 1 (Spring 2019).

Chu, Andrea Long (May 1, 2019). The Impossibility of Feminism. Differences30 (1): 63–81.

Chu AL (November 24, 2018). My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy. New York Times

Chu AL (2018). On Liking Women. n+1 30 (Winter 2018): 47–62.

Chu AL (2018). Did Sissy Porn Make Me Trans? Queer Disruptions 2 Columbia University, New York, NY March 1–2, 2018.

Chu AL (2018). Pornographic Spectatorship, or, Did Sissy Porn Make Me Trans? 2018 annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association UCLA, Los Angeles, CA March 29–April 1, 2018.

Chu AL (2017). The Wrong Wrong Body: Notes on Trans Phenomenology. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 4, no. 1 (February 2017): 141–52.


Emre, Merve (January 30, 2024). I Want a Critic: Andrea Long Chu, interviewed by Merve Emre. The New York Review

Staff report (October 27, 2021). Andrea Long Chu Joins New York Magazine as Book CriticNew York Press Room.

Lorusso, Melissa (30 October 2019). In ‘Females,’ The State Is Less A Biological Condition Than An Existential OneNPR

Shapiro, Lila (October 16, 2019). Andrea Long Chu Wants More. Vulture

Thom, Kai Cheng (November 29, 2018). The Pain—and Joy—of Transition. Slate

Blanchard, Sessi Kuwabara (September 11, 2018). Andrea Long Chu is the Cult Writer Changing Gender Theory. Vice

O’Brien, Michelle Esther (November 2, 2018). Interview with Andrea Long ChuNew York Public Library Community Oral History Project.


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