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Helen Lewis vs. transgender people

Helen Lewis is a British author and anti-transgender activist who launders gender critical extremism into mainstream media. Lewis is a sex segregationist who claims to be writing from a feminist/leftist viewpoint. Lewis demonstrates that anti-trans sentiment extends into every political point of view and movement.

Lewis’ anti-trans views center around:

  • Challenging legal recognition of trans people in systems developed on the basis of sex, particularly opposing the UK’s Gender Recognition Act
  • Maintaining systems of sex segregation, particularly in matters of law, public accommodation, prisons, sports, and other sex-segregated institutions
  • Maintaining the strict gatekeeping of trans healthcare via government control, developed under nationalized heath systems (so-called “gender clinics”) in the 20th century
  • Maintaining medico-juridical control over trans and gender diverse people though disease models and medical requirements for legal recognition (sterilization requirements, etc.)
  • Maintaining non-affirming models of care for gender diverse youth, developed last century for “the prevention of transsexualism” and now widely outlawed


Lewis was born in 1983, grew up Catholic in Worcester, and attended St Mary’s School there. Lewis then read English at St Peter’s College, Oxford, followed by a journalism degree from City University London. Lewis no longer identifies as Catholic.

After graduating, Lewis worked at the Daily Mail, then joined the New Statesman in 2010. Lewis married designer and creative director Matthew “Matt” Hasteley in 2010 and wrote professionally as Helen Lewis-Hasteley from 2010 until their divorce in 2013. During the marriage, Lewis met and got involved with someone else, eventually leaving the marriage. Like many gender-critical public figures, this starter marriage seems to have had a significant impact on Lewis’ views about sex and gender.

Lewis married Guardian digital editor Jonathan Haynes in 2015. In 2019 Lewis joined the staff of The Atlantic, which has never had an out trans person listed on their masthead in its 160+ years of existence. In 2020 game developer Ubisoft removed Lewis’ voice from in-game audio in Watch Dogs: Legion due to transphobic views.

2017 Times op-ed

Lewis has been critical of the UK’s Gender Recognition Act, claiming that what used to be called the “real life test” that lasts for two years should be required for anyone to be legally recognized as their gender. In a piece titled “A man can’t just say he has turned into a woman,” Lewis wrote:

What the government proposes is a radical rewriting of our understanding of identity: now it’s a question of an internal essence — a soul, if you will. Being a woman or a man is now entirely in your head. In this climate, who would challenge someone with a beard exposing their penis in a women’s changing room? That’s why feminists have raised the alarm over the move to self-identification, along with some older trans people who fear that “trendsters” will erode the goodwill they have worked hard to acquire.

2018 New Statesman op-ed

Lewis was accused of laundering transphobic talking points into a major media outlet around the topics of sex segregation and trans healthcare for youth.

Want to talk about how letting people self-define their gender might affect female-only spaces such as prisons and changing rooms? Then you’re a bigot, cloaking your bigotry in the language of “legitimate concerns”. Want to discuss whether we are rushing to medicalise gender non-conforming children because they and their desperate parents have been sold the idea there is a universal “fix” for their profound, genuine unhappiness? These are yet more “legitimate concerns” that can be dismissed, even as medical professionals warn that not every gender non-conforming child will benefit from puberty blockers and (later) medical transition.

We should all be in favour of the right of transgender people to live their lives free of discrimination, harassment and abuse. […] But the right of someone who has been through male puberty, with the consequences for skeleton and muscle development that brings, to compete in women’s sports that depend on raw strength? That’s more difficult. […]

Our ideas about gender are undergoing a profound shift. I hope that they will end up in a place where a boy can wear a princess dress without people assuming he is “really” a girl. 

2018 GQ interview of Jordan Peterson

In September 2018, Lewis interviewed fellow anti-trans activist Jordan Peterson for GQ. It quickly turned into a tense but civil debate that went viral. One of the few times they agree in the 90-minute conversation is on what Lewis calls “transgender issues.” At about 1:09.45, Lewis’s views overlap significantly with Peterson’s anti-trans viewpoints. Lewis repeats the unsupported generalization that “transgender activists” believe they have a “female soul.” Lewis also believes “We are very quick to diagnose and treat children in a way that I find – and not waiting for the research – and that I find concerning.”


Jackman, Josh (25 July 2017). “Left-wing magazine boss says gender reforms will lead to bearded men exposing their penises to women”PinkNews.

Wang, Esther (1 April 2019). The Atlantic has a transphobia problem. Jezebel

Stone, Gemma (28 September 2021) Helen Lewis: “We Need to Record Gender and Sex Separately” An Injustice Magazine

Duffy, Nick (10 November 2020). ‘Gender critical’ journalist cut from Watch Dogs video game after developers discovered her views on trans people. PinkNews

Muncy, Julie (11 November 2020) Ubisoft Removes a Controversial Voice in Watch Dogs: Legion. WIRED

Selected media by Lewis

Books and audio

  • Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights (2021) alternatively titled Difficult Women: An Imperfect History of Feminism
  • The Spark: 11 Ideas to Change the World (2021) [narrator]


Lewis, Helen (25 July 2017). A man can’t just say he has turned into a woman. The Times (London)

Lewis, Helen (19 March 2018). From immigration to gender, the left is avoiding the hard work of persuasionNew Statesman

Lewis, Helen (17 October 2018). The problem that gender self-ID is designed to solve is real but the debate has failed. New Statesman

Lewis, Helen (30 October 2018). My experience of interviewing Jordan Peterson. GQ

Lewis, Helen (3 January 2019). Maria Miller called me a fake feminist over gender self-ID. Now she says I was right all along. The New Statesman

Lewis, Helen (26 February 2020). Things You Only Know If You’re Divorced Before 30. Grazia

Lewis, Helen (July 2020). Why Millennial Harry Potter Fans Reject JK Rowling. [stealth edited to How J. K. Rowling Became Voldemort] The Atlantic

Lewis, Helen (April 2021). What Happened to Jordan Peterson? The Atlantic

Lewis, Helen (26 October 2021). In Defense of Saying ‘Pregnant Women.’ The Atlantic [headline stealth edited to Why I’ll Keep Saying ‘Pregnant Women’]


GLAAD Accountability Project (

Helen Lewis Writes (

Twitter (

The Atlantic (

The Guardian (

The New Statesman (

Tumblr (

Flickr (

  • lewishasteley [deleted in 2022 in response to this profile]

Muck Rack (

Substack (