Jesse Singal is best known for laundering anti-transgender extremism into mainstream media outlets. Below is a representative sample of criticism about his work and tactics, which stands in stark contrast to praise from his mostly conservative and often transphobic supporters.

Columbia Journalism Review

Alexandria Neason cited Singal’s trans coverage as an example where “the entire gist of an article is off even though every single fact is right.”

Controversial stories like Jesse Singal’s cover story for The Atlantic, on how parents of transgender teens approach their desire to personally or medically transition, come to mind. The story was fact checked, but according to many readersjournalists, and activists in the trans community, was transphobic—and all wrong. The difference between fact and truth is yet another example of why newsrooms, and publishing houses, desperately need to invest in employing and representing diverse writers, editors, agents, and fact checkers alike.

Columbia Journalism Review (2019)

The Objective

The Objective is an American journalism nonprofit “building collective and narrative power for communities that have been misrepresented or dismissed.” In 2020, in response to an open letter signed by Singal in Harper’s Magazine, a group of 150 journalists and public intellectuals described his work thus:

Jesse Singal, another signer, is a cis man infamous for advancing his career by writing derogatorily about trans issues. In 2018, Singal had a cover story in The Atlantic expressing skepticism about the benefits of gender-affirming care for trans youth. No trans writer has been afforded the same space. Singal often faces and dismisses criticism from trans people, but he has a much larger platform than any trans journalist. In fact, a 2018 Jezebel report found that Singal was part of a closed Google listserv of more than 400 left-leaning media elites who praised his work, with not a single out trans person in the group. He also has an antagonistic history with trans journalists, academics, and other writers, dedicating many Medium posts to attempting to refute or discredit their claims and reputations.

The Objective (2020)


GLAAD is an LGBTQ+ media watchdog. The GLAAD Accountability Project catalogs anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and discriminatory actions of politicians, commentators, organization heads, religious leaders, and legal figures, who have used their platforms, influence and power to spread misinformation and harm LGBTQ people. Their entry for Singal cites:

His 2018 Atlantic ex-trans article “When a Child Says She’s Trans”

His 2018 writing about research by Thomas Steensma

Amplified Lisa Littman’s controversial disease “rapid onset gender dysphoria” citing Laura Edwards-Leeper

Wrote a biased defense of Kenneth Zucker after Zucker was fired

GLAAD (2021–present)

Human Rights Campaign

HRC is an American LGBTQ+ rights organization. HRC’s statement:

“There is a growing body of research and medical consensus around the importance of affirming transgender youth who is are insistent, consistent and persistent in their gender identity. Young people deserve the space and support to make these critical decisions in consultation with their families and medical and mental health professionals, which is what the current standards of care ensure. Cherrypicking two experiences, including one where the young person was never diagnosed with gender dysphoria, while glossing over the thousands of youth whose lives have been saved through medically necessary transition-related care, does a disservice to the ultimate goal of ensuring that all young people have the support they deserve and the care they need.” — Sarah McBride

HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride (2018) via Dawn Ennis

Harvard Law Review

In April 2021, Harvard Law Review cited Singal’s Atlantic piece as an example of “desistance” claims used to support anti-transgender legislation. Singal’s work had been previously cited favorably by a consortium of conservative attorneys general seeking to curtail trans health services. Passages in bold cite Singal.

The argument that trans youth should not receive gender-affirming medical care must be vigorously discredited on its own terms as a fallacious rationalization of ingrained prejudices that contradicts both empirical data and the experiences of thousands of children. For one thing, the bills’ central justification, that trans youth lack the capacity for self-reflection necessary to accurately perceive their gender identities,
is flatly untrue. Trans youth are quite secure in their gender identities by the time hormonal interventions become physiologically appropriate. A related claim, that trans youth should have to wait until adulthood to transition because many young children who display gender nonconforming behavior “desist,” or do not grow up to be transgender, has questionable empirical support and, more fundamentally, equivocates gender expression with gender identity. There is a meaningful difference between a child who exhibits gender-atypical behavior and a child who persistently identifies as another gender, and the fact that the former child may not be transgender does nothing to invalidate the latter child’s entitlement to access medically necessary gender-affirming care. And gender nonconforming children who later “desist” from expressing the binary gender opposite to their assigned sex may not necessarily identify as cisgender; they may be nonbinary or possess another gender identity. Presuming that all of these persons are cisgender thus erases nonbinary experiences. Second, the implied premise that trans youth have unilateral control over whether and when they transition is empirically untrue because the current standards of care recommend both parental consent and a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before a minor can receive puberty blockers or HRT. This “gatekeeping” model, far from uncritically acceding to trans youths’ wishes, privileges caution and deliberation over ease of access. Finally, even if one accepts that a certain number of cisgender youth will mistakenly transition if gender-affirming healthcare is available (which is itself a dubious proposition), that number is likely dwarfed by the number of trans youth who will suffer the opposite, equivalent harm — being unable to transition even though transition is right for them — if gender-affirming healthcare is not available.

Harvard Law Review (2021)

Jules Gill-Peterson

Jules Gill-Peterson is an American historian and author of Histories of the Transgender Child. Gill-Peterson wrote a 2021 piece for The New Inquiry placing Singal’s work in historic context.

The appeal to free speech in anti-trans punditry is hardly novel, but I have become interested in the intensely-avowed emotional attachment to liberalism in this genre of complaint. Singal, Shrier, Weiss, Greenwald, and Sullivan each register their complaints against what they frame as an illiberal trans opponent who has attacked not the truth-value of their work, but more importantly their good reputation. This affective attachment is all the more interesting because it is so frequently accompanied by the suggestion that a lawsuit would be justified to secure their liberty against irrational critics. What strikes me is not so much the appeal itself but its appearance within a much wider illiberal field of anti-trans discourse that these figures claim not to endorse. The emotional attachment to liberalism is an effective method of distancing from what these pundits can then hold proximate to their platforms without being held culpable: a small army of internet accounts that spring into action around them. 

Gill-Peterson (2021)

Imara Jones

Imara Jones is an American journalist named to the 2023 TIME 100. In The Anti-Trans Hate Machine, she reported:

A big reason that [Lisa Littman’s] discredited research endures is in no small part due to the writing of journalist Jesse Singal. In fact, because of Singal, Littman’s ideas would find their very first entree into a mainstream audience. Here he is on a podcast called “Keep Talking”: 

Jesse Singal: I found the accounts of some detransitioners, which are young people, or usually young people, who transitioned and then regretted it. And it just seemed like, you know, trans kids were everywhere. And it would be good to have a big magazine article laying out what the process looks like for, for determining a kid is or isn’t ready to transition. 

Singal published his article in a cover story for The Atlantic called “When a Child Says She’s Trans” in 2018 — the same year Littman published her study. In the magazine article, Singal spotlights the same idea of social contagion circulated by parents online, a clear nod to 4th Wave Now

Jesse Singal: Because to me, it’s pretty easy to see how like if you’re a struggling adolescent and you don’t know exactly what’s wrong with you or why you feel so crappy, you could go online and find a pretty pat storyline that all you need to do to feel better is transition and to get on some hormones. And you see a ton of kids who believe this, and some of them may be right, but there, there has to be a role for adults to sort of, to gatekeepe here. I mean, both morally and ethically, 14 and 15-year-olds cannot consent to their own treatment. 

When Singal’s article came out, it was explosive, especially online. With their ideas now appearing in a mainstream, even liberal news source, the right-wing media didn’t hesitate to spread Singal’s work. 

Without Singal and journalists like him, it’s unlikely that the idea of a trans social contagion would have spread beyond the confines of conversations amongst transphobic parents, pseudoscientific organizations, or Christian Nationalist think tanks.

Jules Gill-Peterson is a historian at John Hopkins who’s charted transgender history and science in the United States. She says that there was clearly a before and after Jesse Singal’s piece. 

Jules Gill-Peterson: It was almost like a tipping point moment. Right? Where you have this person whose whole brand is, I’m not personally motivated here. Right? I’m just doing my job. And in fact, it’s my job to be dispassionate.

And the fact that Singal markets himself as an unbiased journalist who’s “just asking questions,” allows him to effectively peddle these discredited ideas.  

To be clear, becoming a leading voice against gender affirming care for young people has been great for him professionally. 

Jesse Singal: So, you know, and, and I cannot say the last three years since this article came out have been bad for me professionally. It’s been the opposite. I’ve been very fortunate. 

Jones (2023)

Robyn Kanner

Robyn Kanner is an American marketing executive and designer who wrote a response to Singal’s Atlantic piece:

Singal is attempting to provide hope to parents that their child who says they’re trans might not be. He leaves enough doubt for you to consider gatekeeping your child’s identity. This is irresponsible.

Kanner (2018)

M.K. Anderson

M.K. Anderson is an American writer. In a 2022 Protean piece, Anderson describes Singal’s pattern of behavior:

First, he is critiqued by trans people or allies. He misrepresents their positions to incite backlash online, or simply screenshots or quote tweets them to direct harassment their way. Trans writer Emily VanDerWerff said her experience with being misrepresented and harassed included “death threats, rape threats, invitations to commit suicide, [and] constant misgendering.” Singal contacts critics, threatening to sue. He contacts their employers. He sends them abusive emails. When someone reports a fact about him that he finds unflattering or releases a critique he doesn’t like, he frivolously threatens to sue and demands publications issue corrections—then howls about not getting them on Twitter. At this point, it’s a little bit of a joke on trans Twitter that every trans writer or academic, no matter how minor, is eventually subject to a Singal meltdown and volley of threats.

Anderson (2022)

Singal’s first major foray into transphobia was his defense of fired sexologist Kenneth Zucker. Anderson notes:

Yet Singal seems intent on rehabilitating Zucker’s reputation. His 2016 article for The Cut is transparently sympathetic to Zucker’s point of view, written in a tone indignant at Zucker’s implicitly unfair firing. It adopts a strange framing: it insists that the claim that Zucker’s practices were tantamount to conversion therapy is merely the work of “activists” who were out to smear Zucker and had “tarred” the GIC clinic for its “cautious” stance. (Singal dismissively and disdainfully refers to sources that contradict his narrative as “activists”—i.e., ideologues. Doing so allows him to discount and dismiss contradictory expertise.)


This appearance of good faith and benevolence masks Singal’s transphobic underlying logic, which is much more subtle than the flagrant bigotry on regular display on the right. He hedges his claims and imbues his narratives with the appearance of rational debate, obscuring problematic premises and logical contortions. He maintains, as Gorcenski puts it, “a facade of being outwardly supporting of trans rights.” His sleights-of-hand are therefore that much more palatable to a wider audience, appearing reasonable to the liberal conscience.

They also appear reasonable to the reactionary conscience. Singal’s apologia for Zucker was an early manifestation of his fascination with the “problem” of trans children and their bodies. That perceived “problem” is what actual anti-trans legislation is aimed at “correcting,” as seen in the Abbott memo and elsewhere. 

Anderson (2022)

Julia Serano

Julia Serano is an American biologist and author.

(December 5, 2017). My Jesse Singal story

She also compiled a list of experiences by others who mentioned Singal in a critical light.

  • Jun 18, 2018 – Katherine Cross on Singal sending her an email “swearing a storm at me because I tweeted something he disliked that he felt was untrue.”
  • Jun 18, 2018 – Cat Fitzpatrick mentions Singal threatened to sue her for politely disagreeing with him.
  • Jan 15, 2019 – Singal levies legal threats against two writers who mention that they personally know trans women who’ve had bad interactions with him.
  • Jul 7, 2020 – the day the Harper’s Letter (which Singal was a signatory) was released, Singal instigated pile-ons of multiple people. I captured him initiating the pile-on of Jennifer Finney Boylan as it was occurring in this thread (both up & down from linked-to tweet). Emily VanDerWerff reacts to Singal’s pile-on of her here and, two days later, discusses the aftermath of that pile-on (which included “Death threats, rape threats, invitations to commit suicide, constant misgendering, etc”). Ari Drennen took screenshots of Singal targeting Aja Romano.
  • Because Singal’s attack on Emily VanDerWerff was premised on his false presumption that she was trying to get one of her employers fired (which she has denied), lots of other writers began coming forward with stories of Singal contacting their employers and editors because he disliked what they wrote. Here are some of those instances:
  • Jul 7, 2020 – Katelyn Burns on Singal “repeatedly emailing my employer until they fired me” is found here. A week later a co-worker corroborated that story.
  • Jul 7, 2020 – Katherine Cross shares: “Back when I wrote for Feministing, he repeatedly badgered the editors trying to get a critical post that mentioned him briefly changed or taken down.”
  • Jul 19, 2020 – Abigail Nussbaum shares how “Jesse Singal has emailed me some endless screed demanding retractions on a post I wrote about him directing abuse towards Emily VanDerWerff.”
  • Dec 18, 2020 – Grace Lavery shares “Statement After Being Brutally Savaged by the Sharp Tongue of the Renegade Jesse Singal, 12/18/20.” Here is Lavery’s editor on the piece in question responding to Singal’s pestering. 

Harron Walker

Harron Walker is an American journalist who wrote an important exposé on how trans-exclusionary journalists operate:

He’s a reactionary with a deep mistrust of the informed consent model of trans health care that has allowed a lot of trans people, myself included, to get on hormones in a matter of weeks. (In decades past, I would’ve had to undergo a two-year “real-life test” before a doctor prescribed me hormones. Thankfully, I live in a place like New York where I have Callen-LordeApicha, and Planned Parenthood at my disposal. Many trans people are still forced to grapple with such gatekeeping practices in other parts of the country.)

Singal’s reporting also suggests a cultural anxiety about the growing number of trans people who self-identify as trans without an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria, which would explain why he’s so interested in reporting on trans people who get it wrong. Without delving into personal, perhaps even perverse, speculation, I’d say that he so frequently writes about trans kids as a smokescreen for his anti-trans sentiment. By writing about trans kids instead of trans adults, he can express his concern over the ways we live our lives by framing his concern as a parental one, thus looping parents into the conversation. It’s a children’s issue, not a trans issue, which gives any reader, cis or trans, permission to weigh in on the subject with authority. It’s that classic “think of the children” strawman. 

Walker (2018)

Singal is known for persistent and aggressive hounding of editors, demanding corrections and retractions.

he emailed my editor many times after this was published seeking correction….on my ANALYSIS of his work. he was trying to fact check criticism. please clap.

Walker (2020)

Chase Strangio

Chase Strangio is an American lawyer. He spoke with GQ about Singal’s role in amplifying anti-transgender rhetoric:

I think what we’re seeing now is this moment where there are these loud voices who feel so empowered and emboldened to speak out with just utter hatred for trans people. And a lot of it emerging from the UK anti-trans discourse in JK Rowling and then that sort of being an impetus for this Substack brigade, as I like to call them—that idea of the self-victimized, well-paid writer who wants nothing more than to be able to hate others without consequence. That sort of famed victimhood of censorship, which is really just self-censorship and complaining, whether it was JK Rowling, or Abigail Shrier, and Bari Weiss. And then it became sort of the cause of Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald and Jesse Singal and all these other people who are just somehow finding their moment to be like, “Oh yes, trans people are so disgusting. And I feel that way. And now I get to frame this around my right to speak without criticism.” I did not necessarily anticipate the magnitude of the public discursive escalation and the sense of empowerment that people feel attacking trans people, and doing so while fueling a very dangerous set of legal and policy objectives that I think even these people would claim to not be aligned with.

Chase Strangio, in Jones (2021)

Kelley Winters

Kelley Winters is an American activist.

Singal’s article defines “desistance” as, “the tendency for gender dysphoria to resolve itself as a child gets older and older.”  Singal praised the 80% “desistance” claim in his article as “solid scientific consensus” and boasted that “every” study, not some, but “every study that has been conducted on this has found the same thing.” He scorned those who do not accept the 80% presumption (Tannehill 2016, Serano 2016, Olson and Durwood 2016) as “part of the problem,” as essentially “ignoring” science, and preventing “intelligent, informed discussion.”

Winters, Kelley (August 8, 2016). The New York Magazine Lies To Parents About Trans Children. Transadvocate

Cristan Williams

Cristan Williams is an American activist.

Singal’s article defines “desistance” as, “the tendency for gender dysphoria to resolve itself as a child gets older and older.”  Singal praised the 80% “desistance” claim in his article as “solid scientific consensus” and boasted that “every” study, not some, but “every study that has been conducted on this has found the same thing.” He scorned those who do not accept the 80% presumption (Tannehill 2016, Serano 2016, Olson and Durwood 2016) as “part of the problem,” as essentially “ignoring” science, and preventing “intelligent, informed discussion.”

Williams, Cristan (March 3, 2018). You’re Very Wrong About Trans Kids

Parker Molloy

Parker Molloy is an American media activist.

I had some trepidation going into our chat, as Jesse has appeared to offer his endorsement to some pretty blatantly transphobic articlespropped up authors who’ve dismissed treatment for trans kids (and sometimes adults), seems to believe J. Michael Bailey (who wrote a book that suggested trans women [he didn’t even acknowledge that trans men exist] are either just trans because they’re really gay men but want to date straight men or that we just want to have sex with a woman version of ourselves — this is all nonsense) had his career harmed (he still works at Northwestern University; I recently spoke to one of his students, actually) via a “witch hunt,” and pushed back against the idea that language should be inclusive of trans men and non-binary individuals who were assigned female at birth. Understandably, I felt very cautious.

Molloy, Parker (February 11, 2016). About that New York Magazine article on Kenneth Zucker Medium

Dawn Ennis

Dawn Ennis is an American journalist.

Ennis, Dawn (June 9, 2018). We warned The Atlantic about Jesse Singal, but they ignored us. Medium

Noah Berlatsky

Noah Berlatsky is an American journalist and author who created a Jesse Singal Resource Page. He also wrote about a project by GLAAD that examines Singal’s work.

Journalist Jesse Singal is listed on the GLAAD Accountability Project for suggesting that trans identity is a social contagion and for defending a form of conversion therapy. Singal’s work has also, according to GLAAD, been cited by conservatives in legal efforts to reduce trans people’s access to healthcare. 

The second choice Substack has made is ideological. The site has embraced a slate of anti-left writers who are frequently also anti-trans. The most egregious of these is Graham Linehan, who in February tried to identify and shame trans women off a dating app, and who was permanently suspended from Twitter for transphobic vitriol. He has used his Substack to baselessly accuse a trans writer of being a child abuser. Other writers include Shrier, Singal, his podcast co-host Katie Herzog and Andrew Sullivan, whose recent article on trans issues recommended banning trans women from women’s bathrooms and putting severe restrictions on trans women’s health care.

Berlatsky, Noah (April 20, 2021). Harassers Use Substack Sign-Ups to Spam Trans People and Allies. Observer.

Zack Ford

Zack Ford is an American journalist.

Ford, Zack (June 20, 2018). Atlantic cover story is a loud dog whistle for anti-transgender parents ThinkProgress

Ford, Zack (September 5, 2017). The pernicious junk science stalking trans kids ThinkProgress

Katelyn Burns

Katelyn Burns is an American journalist. Burns had a long and complicated Twitter feud with Singal which she has since deleted, leaving only his version of things.

Burns, Katelyn (March 13, 2017). originally published at The Establishment

Andrea Long Chu

Andrea Long Chu is an American writer who has written about her gender transition as well as more esoteric writing on trans issues. Her New York Times op-ed “My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy” placed Singal’s work within the long history of “compassion-mongering,” or couching anti-trans sentiments a “concern.”

A popular right-wing narrative holds that gender dysphoria is a clinical delusion; hence, feeding that delusion with hormones and surgeries constitutes a violation of medical ethics. Just ask the Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan T. Anderson, whose book “When Harry Became Sally” draws heavily on the work of Dr. Paul McHugh, the psychiatrist who shut down the gender identity clinic at Johns Hopkins in 1979 on the grounds that trans-affirmative care meant “cooperating with a mental illness.” Mr. Anderson writes, “We must avoid adding to the pain experienced by people with gender dysphoria, while we present them with alternatives to transitioning.”

A gender-affirmative model will almost certainly lead to more and higher-quality care for transgender patients. But by focusing on minimizing patients’ pain, it leaves the door open for care to be refused when a doctor, or someone playing doctor, deems the risks too high. This was the thrust of a recent Atlantic cover story in which the journalist Jesse Singal used the statistically small number of people who have come to regret their medical transitions to argue that transitioning is “not the answer for everyone.” There was a dog whistle here: Hormones and surgery can and should be withheld from patients who want them when such treatments cannot be reasonably expected to “maximize good outcomes.”

Mr. Singal is Mr. Anderson’s liberal doppelgänger. Both writers engage in what we could call “compassion-mongering,” peddling bigotry in the guise of sympathetic concern. Both posit a medical duty to refrain from increasing trans people’s suffering — what’s called nonmaleficence. Neither has any issue with gatekeeping per se; they differ, modestly, on how the gate is to be kept.

His response claims he supports informed consent for adults, even though his article quotes adults who consented to procedures as adults.

Tarpley Hitt

Tarpley Hitt is an American journalist. Hitt covered the wave of anti-LGBT state legislation in 2022, noting Singal’s role.

One might think the radical trans-obsessed centrists of Twitter — Katie Herzog, Jesse Singal, and Andrew Sullivan, in particular — would welcome this wave of lawmaking. For the uninitiated: Sullivan and Singal are popular Substackers; Herzog occasionally writes for like-minded Substacks; and Herzog and Singal have a podcast together called “Blocked and Reported” (it has a Substack too). This trifecta loves to claim that legacy publications suffocate free speech and the expression of boldly unwoke views. Indeed, these fine minds have focused on lending legitimacy to the more extreme gender-critical arguments backing the bills now passing into law. A couple of them have even been cited in anti-trans briefs.

Where does Singal, the former New York science editor who wrote a controversial Atlantic cover story about childhood transitions that parlayed a couple cherry-picked anecdotes into an argument that ‘just asks questions’ about transition care for minors, figure into this? He was busy fact-checking Libs of TikTok, an account devoted to unbiased presentation of information, on a video about schools installing litter-boxes for self-identified furries.

Hitt (2022)

Tom Scocca

Tom Scocca is an American author and editor.

Those [WPATH] standards of care [for youth] are subject to much internal debate, as the Times Magazine covered in its 11,000 words. But if the clinicians who administer trans health care are already weighing these possibilities, why do the readers of the Times or Jesse Singal’s newsletter need to keep worrying about them? Especially when the subject is social transitioning at school, rather than actual medical care? Singal argued that social transitioning is a significant intervention in itself, with serious psychological impacts, and that schools aren’t qualified to make such weighty assessment “on the sole basis of a single child’s say-so.” The justification loops back on its own defining premise: trans care requires extra concern because trans care requires extra concern. 

Jesse Singal was born in the ’80s, so it’s possible he was too young to absorb the abundant ’80s and ’90s rhetoric about the long-term physical and emotional damage young people would inflict on themselves if they started living their lives as gay people. 

In some hypothetical universe, to borrow a term from Singal, opening up the discussion between young people and gender care providers to widespread public review might lead to better understanding and more nuanced treatment. In this world, it seems to have created the space for Ron DeSantis to step in and demand a list of student vaginoplasties. 

Singal’s story also established the template for the meta-coverage of the subject. Trans writers and activists expressed dismay and outrage about the piece’s alarmist angle; the Atlantic defended it; some of the protests became vituperative and personal; Singal himself curdled over time into, at minimum, a position of combative and obsessive anti-anti-transphobia. The fuss over such an ostensibly thorough and ostensibly reasonable article struck some people with no particular investment in trans issues as censorious and irrational, and those people became invested instead in trans coverage as an object of “cancel culture” discourse: a line of inquiry under attack by the opponents of free inquiry. 

The idea that arguments against trans care are forbidden knowledge, which journalists have a duty to bring to light, is still driving coverage. 

Scocca (2023)

Emily Gorcenski

Emily Gorcenski is an American data scientist and engineer.

Jesse Singal has relied on a small subset of scientific research to draw broad conclusions about transgender children. Singal has no apparent background in psychiatry or clinical research statistics and he is not to my knowledge transgender. This lack of relevant subject-matter expertise has evidently allowed him to miss critically important details in the thin body of knowledge regarding transgender children. When confronted with his mistakes, Singal instead resorts to appeals to common sense to backfill the missing science to justify his conclusions, instead of retracting his articles and apologizing for antagonizing his critics.

Gorcenski, Emily (April 2, 2021). Jesse Singal Got More Wrong Than He Thinks

The Atlantic

In a highly unusual move, The Atlantic published several responses to Singal, called “When Children Say They’re Trans, Continued: Writers respond to The Atlantic’s July/August 2018 cover story.

  • The Loaded Language Shaping the Trans Conversation Tey Meadow Jul 10, 2018
  • My Parents Still Struggle to Know Me After I Transitioned Late. Evan Urquhart Jul 4, 2018
  • Why Is the Media So Worried About the Parents of Trans Kids? Thomas Page McBee Jun 25, 2018
  • I Detransitioned. But Not Because I Wasn’t Trans. Robyn Kanner Jun 22, 2018

Additional commentary

Twitter user “your father” wrote in 2022:

  • Cannot be overstated enough that this dude is a mid tier science blogger who wrote a bad blog about transition like 7 years ago, couldn’t handle the criticism he got, and doubled down into constructing a career premised on a fantasy universe where he is the true arbiter of nuance
  • The world Singal invites you (and various aging reporter doofuses who don’t know the lit) into is one where there’s all this scientific complexity and debate about treatment of trans kids that maps neatly into the culture war. It’s a self serving fiction
  • In the same way there are some cosmologists who still believe in MOND and not dark matter, there exist some phds who will give a determined ideologue quotes opposing gender affirming care
  • (And there are some science/culture writers who are goofy and overly simplistic in their coverage of this who you can build an audience dunking on)
  • But the actual substantive questions that remain about the treatment of trans kids have nothing to do with what this guy spouts off about all the time.
  • He just pretends there’s a real research debate that maps onto stuff that serves his ego and drives outrage clicks for his fauxtellectual fans. When people like Chait et al engage with his bullshit it’s a tell that they are marks for anyone who can mimic the aesthetics of nuance
  • If a perfectly designed, 80 year, n=500,000 longitudinal study came out tomorrow demonstrating with 99.9% certainty that gender affirming care leads to better outcomes for kids experiencing gender dysphoria in all circumstances…
  • …the economics of Jesse’s career and the very publicly-played-out diseases of his psyche would demand that he write 12,000 words of hackery and tendentious nonsense about that remaining 0.1%


Jones, Saeed (May 5, 2021). The Republican War Against Trans Kids. GQ

Walker, Harron (June 19, 2018). What’s Jesse Singal’s Fucking Deal? Jezebel Headline later edited to Who Is Jesse Singal? On The Atlantic’s Transphobic Cover Story

Walker, Harron (June 27, 2018) Private Messages Reveal the Cis Journalist Groupthink Behind Trans Media Narratives. Jezebel

Gill-Peterson, Jules (September 13, 2021). From Gender Critical to QAnon: Anti-Trans Politics and the Laundering of Conspiracy. The New Inquiry

Stenberg, Mark (March 17, 2021). Substack Pro Leads to Departures From Platform, Opportunities for Competitors. Adweek.

Anderson, M.K. (April 22, 2022). Singal and the Noise. Protean

Rude, Mey (March 14, 2021). Cis Men Like Jesse Singal, Dan Savage Don’t Decide What’s Transphobic. The Advocate

Ford, Zack (June 20, 2018). Atlantic cover story is a loud dog whistle for anti-transgender parents. ThinkProgress

Kerri, Amanda (June 26, 2018). Why the Trans Community Hates The Atlantic‘s Cover Story/ The Advocate

Kane, Vivian (July 8, 2020). Rich, Famous Transphobes Ask You to Stop Being So Mean to Them in Terrible Harper’s Magazine Open Letter -

Meadow, Tey (July 10, 2018). The Loaded Language Shaping the Trans Conversation

Walker, Harron (June 19, 2018). What’s Jesse Singal’s Fucking Deal?

Walker, Harron (June 27, 2018). Private Messages Reveal the Cis Journalist Groupthink Behind Trans Media Narratives

Lavery, Grace (December 15, 2020). A High Court Decision in Britain Puts Trans People Everywhere at Risk. Foreign Policy [Singal’s response]

Reidel, Samantha (June 28, 2018). Jesse Singal Crystallizes What’s Wrong With Cisnormative Media. them [alternate title: When Will Cis Media Finally Hire Trans Reporters To Cover Trans Issues?]

Sonoma, Sirena (September 4, 2020). Trans Cover Model Discusses Being Misgendered and Outed by The Atlantic. them

Barasch, Alex (June 20, 2018). Sacred Bodies: Jesse Singal’s Atlantic Story on Trans Issues Fixates on the Wrong Group of People. Desistance and detransitioning stories value cis anxiety over trans lives. Slate

Livingstone, Jo (April 22, 2019). Rules of Engagement: The left is often criticized for shutting down debate. But is productive debate even possible when we can’t agree on the terms? or How Not to Have a Constructive Debate -

Hitt, Tarpley (April 5, 2022). Oh no! The anti-trans bigotry we loved is starting to feel homophobic. Gawker.

Scocca, Tom (January 29, 2023). The Worst Thing We Read This Week: Why Is the New York Times So Obsessed With Trans Kids? Popula

Buckley, Curt (July 1, 2018). Jesse Singal Gets It Entirely Wrong…Again! Medium

Grant, Melissa Gira (November 6, 2019). Fixating on “Cancel Culture” in an Age of Transphobia. The New Republic.

Serano, Julia (March 16, 2021). Statement on Jesse Singal, canceling, & deactivating my Twitter account [PDF]

Serano, Julia (December 5, 2017). My Jesse Singal story.

Editors (April 2021). Outlawing Trans Youth: State Legislatures and the Battle over Gender-Affirming Healthcare for Minors Chapter One. Harvard Law Review

Doyle, Jude Ellison Sady (April 7, 2021). Arkansas’ transgender law makes it America’s worst state for trans kids. NBC News

None of this should be that surprising. Trans children have been the subject of a very loud moral panic for years. You may already know the greatest hits: Abigail Shrier’s book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze That’s Seducing Our Daughters,” in which she argues that transmasculine teenagers are deluded victims of “peer contagion,” or Jesse Singal’s notorious Atlantic cover story “When Children Say They’re Trans,” a sympathetic piece on parents who “convinced” their children not to transition.

Kincaid, Rachel (April 9, 2021). Extra! Extra!: What Will It Take to Protect Trans Youth in Arkansas (and Everywhere Else?) Autostraddle

The current attack on trans kids owes a great deal to the TERF and transmisogynistic logic that increasingly pervades liberal circles, including cis queer women’s communities. As many have pointed out, allegedly ‘well-intentioned’ liberals ‘just asking questions’ about trans kids, like Jesse Singal’s infamous Atlantic cover story, is a huge part of how we got to this moment, and voting Republicans out of office isn’t a meaningful solution here. Trans kids need more than legislative solutions; they need cis people to work to uproot the violent transphobia in all our communities, not just the Arkansas legislature.

The Objective (July 7, 2020)

Cerberus (July 29, 2016). Jesse Singal and desistance. Singularly Bizarre

Jones, Zinnia (April 1, 2016). Alice Dreger, autogynephilia, and the misrepresentation of trans sexualities (Book review: Galileo’s Middle Finger). Gender Analysis

Plett, Casey (April 11, 2016). Zucker’s “Therapy” Mourned Almost Exclusively By Cis People. Harlot Magazine

Neason, Alexandria (January 25, 2019). The perils of publishing without a fact-checking net. Columbia Journalism Review

GLAAD Accountability Project (2021). Jesse Singal

In 2022 the illustration was updated in response to feedback.