I don’t get Jesse Singal. I don’t pay much attention to him, but one thing I know is that he is the mainstream media’s go-to guy for ‘science’ reporting on trans issues, that he knows less about trans people than I do (and I don’t claim authority), and that trans people detest him. Julia Serano has been writing about this guy for some time.
Many people know of Jesse Singal as a senior/science editor at New York Magazine. Within transgender communities, Singal has garnered a reputation (particularly over the last two years) for repeatedly promoting ideas that are in opposition to, or which flat-out undermine, trans people’s perspectives on issues that impact our lives. He has done this in the form of seemingly serious-minded articles, but also in more flippant or provocative exchanges from his Twitter account (which he recently shut down).
He has a reputation, and not a good one. That should be the message you take from this. You could argue that it isn’t deserved (I’d disagree), you can say that you like his take on things or that he’s a good writer, but that’s all irrelevant to the main problem here: the community that he writes about, and weirdly frequently writes about, dislikes his take and frequently argues — calmly and dispassionately, as Serano did — against his opinions, and every time he intrudes into trans concerns, he is unwelcome and a lightning rod for anger. Serano isn’t the only one!
If you must know one thing about journalist Jesse Singal, it’s that he loves reporting on trans issues—trans kids, in particular. If you must know another thing, it’s that a lot of trans people, myself included, loathe his coverage of trans issues with a once-fiery passion that has since cooled into a dormant rage.
His reputation as a transphobe who is compelled to make frequent complaints about the trans community is the problem here…so why do major publications seek out his writings on the subject? They must know that transgender men and women are going to be angered by his positions.
On Monday, The Atlantic revealed that they are the latest mainstream publication to play host to Singal’s bullshit, publishing “When Children Say They’re Trans,” the cover story for their upcoming July/August issue.
I’m going to guess that the reason major publications like The Atlantic pay Jesse Singal to write is that they like dumping on the transgender community — that they are rewarded with profit by the cisgender masses, like me, for putting the seal of approval on Singal’s biases.
It’s a misleading article, too. The cover is all about the difficulties of transitioning and makes these alarming claims about 13 year olds wanting hormones (with pubescent kids, the question is about hormone blockers) and surgery (every article I’ve read by a trans person on this subject talks about how surgery isn’t required, that it’s a decision made only after long consideration, and why are you so concerned about what’s in their pants anyway?), and then the article itself focuses almost entirely on adults who detransitioned. It gives the impression that every trans man and woman eventually ends up unhappy and wanting to go back to their ‘natural’ state.
But here’s the big question.
Why has The Atlantic decided to publish as its cover story a cis writer’s article about trans people who aren’t trans—during Pride month, no less? Why is this the only detransition narrative that most media seems interested in covering?
Ooh, ooh, I can answer those! Because The Atlantic only wants to hear from the cis perspective, and they only want articles that cast doubt and discourage people from transitioning. And Jesse Singal is the man you go to if you want someone eager to express exactly those opinions.
Publications, take note: Jesse Singal is more than a little creepy on the subject of transgender issues. He is the last person you want gracing your cover.