Believe the evidence, ignore the cranks

Isn’t this a fairly obvious strategy? To set transgender policy, look to the evidence. It’s what I would recommend. Unfortunately, that’s not how policy is established.

The current spate of anti-trans positions has little to do with evidence-based research, science or data.

Here’s one example. Anti-trans campaigners often argue that allowing trans women to use women’s toilets and changing rooms will increase sexual assaults. In fact, research has shown the opposite. One study tallied criminal incidents related to assault, sex crimes or voyeurism in public toilets, locker rooms and changing areas in parts of Massachusetts that had laws against trans discrimination, and compared them with those that hadn’t. It found no evidence that these laws put women at risk, and concluded that “fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws are not empirically grounded” (A. Hasenbush et al. Sex. Res. Soc. Pol. 16, 70–83; 2019). Furthermore, there is evidence that transgender children who cannot use toilets and locker rooms that match their gender identity are at increased risk of assault (G. R. Murchison et al. Pediatrics 143, e20182902; 2019).

Nevertheless, a false ‘protection’ argument has been used to justify anti-trans ‘bathroom bills’ in Alabama, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and to buttress trans discrimination in the United Kingdom.

Politicians’ claims also have little to do with empirical evidence when it comes to gender-affirming care. Alabama’s law banning provision of such care to minors described the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapies as “experimental”. It did not mention that 22 US medical associations endorse these medications as well-established treatment for gender dysphoria in young people.

Case in point: Graham Linehan. He says we literally don’t know who to believe.

He’s against trans rights, and now he’s doubting the existence of COVID (citing Bret Weinstein!) and climate change, all because he’d rather listen to hucksters lying about the evidence than accept something contrary to his biases. He is getting sucked right down into the conspiracy theory pipeline, and you can trust that he’s going to get worse and worse. He is actively demonstrating crank magnetism.

That Nature article has a good suggestion on where to start. There’s plenty of research and evidence on these matters…the problem is that it all says Linehan is WRONG, so he won’t look at it.

Much evidence-based research is already available. More is still needed, but it is either a lie or a cop-out to say that there’s not enough research to make informed policy decisions. Instead of whipping up arguments to churn culture wars, elected officials and those around them should look to the evidence.

You could also start by unsubscribing from Weinstein’s podcast.


  1. calgor says

    The transgender ban on toilets has always been amusing to me once I found out that more sitting Republican US senators have been CONVICTED of public toilet sex offences than accusations against transgendered persons for similar offences. Yet despite this being a verifiable fact, I have not once see a law put forward banning republican senators from public bathrooms ever!

  2. raven says

    Alabama’s law banning provision of such care to minors described the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapies as “experimental”.

    In other words they just lied. When all your arguments are lies and logical fallacies, you are operating from hate not reasoning.

    They keep saying the same thing about the Covid-19 virus vaccines. That they are “experimental” and haven’t been adequately tested.

    Source Our World in Data
    Covid-19 virus vaccines given

    Doses given 12.7B +4.15M
    Fully vaccinated 4.95B +383K
    % of population fully vaccinated 63.5%

    OK, 12.7 billion doses have been given and 5 billion people are fully vaccinated. Over a nearly two year period.
    We have a huge database by now on the Covid-19 virus vaccines!!!
    They aren’t experimental.

    And oh yeah, vaccines and the science behind them are several centuries old by now.

  3. moonslicer says

    The first bit of research into transgender people that I’d recommend is a 2nd-century novel, “The Metamorphoses” (in English often called “The Golden Ass”), written by Lucius Apuleius. This novel contains a lengthy passage involving a group who are unmistakenly transgender women. Unfortunately, they’re depicted as exaggeratedly effeminate, sexually licentious and thieves. Very disappointing, because, going by his writings in general, Apuleius was obviously an intelligent man.

    It just goes to show you that transgender people have been around forever, as has anti-trans prejudice.

    And now research is being done, though of course more is needed. Folks, this is the 21st century. Just how much more time do you think you’re going to need? It’s not as if you’ve never had the opportunity before now. I can’t speak for all transgender people of course, but some of us are tired of waiting. We’ve got lives we’d like to live.

  4. raven says

    Graham Linehan saying that he doesn’t know who to trust on COVID vaccines, and “isn’t 100% on climate change anymore.”

    Who is Graham Linehan and why should I care. He is clearly an idiot.

    Who to trust on Covid-19 virus vaccines?
    Scientists and doctors who have huge volumes of research and data on the vaccines
    Random internet crackpots who haven’t had a coherent thought in their lives and have no training or experience in medicine and science?

    The stakes are high here.
    At least 250,000 US people who died from Covid-19 virus would have lived if they had been vaccinated.
    The vaccines have also saved the lives of 2 million US people, one of which is…me.

  5. StevoR says

    Believe & listen to trans people. Because they know what they are talking about from lived, real life experience and we do not.

    Also, why wouldn’t you?

  6. moarscienceplz says

    @calgor #1
    I remember the case of Senator Wide-Stance.
    Have you found a database of Republican politician sex offenders? Such a thing would be useful to have.

  7. Allison says

    From what I’ve seen, most or all of the anti-trans claims are simply blatant, conscious, bare-faced lies, as blatant as claiming the sun rises in the West. They hate, and they will seize on any idea or fantasy that sounds like it justifies their hate. It’s like if people accuse PZ Meyers of being a lizard person or an evil genius who creates deadly viruses like COVID in his lab — truth is irrelevant. Evidence is irrelevant, truth is irrelevant. It’s about the hate, not reality or truth.

    As a target of their hate, it feels like the anti-semitic wave of the 1930’s, or the witch craze of a few centuries ago. It’s some sort of evil mania that has infected their brains, and all I can think of to do is to find some place to hide and wait it out.

  8. HidariMak says

    Can’t say that I’m surprised by the conspiracy contagion. From what I’ve heard, there are tables for all sorts of wacky beliefs at any conspiracy con. It doesn’t matter if the conspiracy group is for flat earthers, 9/11 “Truthers”, chupacabras, UFOs, sasquatch, or whatever, just about any other crazy belief becomes valid. It doesn’t even matter if the beliefs are contradictory. Osama bin Laden is both dead after an illness, and alive and well, as one example.

  9. moonslicer says

    @ #7 Allison

    Everything you’re saying here is absolutely true. I’ve coined a word “antitransology” = the art/study/pursuit of attacking transgender people. They manufacture lies in order to justify the hatred they already harbor in their hearts.

    One of their most recent ventures is ROGD, “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria”. The very name “Rapid Onset” gives it away as fiction. But they themselves don’t know that and neither do they care. They manufacture the lie out of thin air and off they go.

    One thing that’s very important to remember: it’s not just transgender people who are subject to such lies. Every minority will get it in one form or another. There’s nothing special about us. It’s a law of human life: there will always be minorities among us, and there will always be those among us who hate minorities for no good reason.

    It’s one of the most depressing characteristics I find among humankind: how hard so many people are willing to work in order to hate and hurt others.

  10. raven says

    One of their most recent ventures is ROGD, “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria”.

    Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria doesn’t exist.
    It’s just something some random crackpot made up.

    When you see that, you know you are dealing with a liar, hater, crackpot, loon.

  11. chrislawson says

    There are genuine scientific controversies out there, but when the topic is COVID vaccine efficacy or transgender rights, anyone who says “I don’t know who to believe” is really saying “I want to keep my stupid prejudices despite all the evidence.”

    How hard is to figure out that you shouldn’t believe a source that repeatedly spreads easily exposed lies?

  12. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    my “conspiracy theory” about anti-TG bathrooms is the norms are paranoid that cis-Men are so obsessed with sex that they will put on women’s clothes to get in there to freely assault cis-women in the privacy of a bathroom.
    They have no empathy to understand the struggle trans face when only given two choices of bathroom.
    aside from that, I thought women bathroom only had stalls, which would maintain individual privacy for each despite the number of stalls being in a single room. What do I know, I never visited one myself

  13. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @9:
    good point, to remind us there once was a law separating bathrooms by racial origin (Ie “White Only”)
    I guess antiTG is another form of tribalism

  14. calgor says

    @ moarscienceplz #6 Sorry, had to do it the long way.

    Googling republican senator sex convictions gave several lists (Nothing official, but many included democrat offenders, even found some on gaming website forums!?) and multiple press releases. The interesting point is if you google for trans sex offenders…

    There are several studies about criminal offenders who are trans, but I have yet to find a single article where sexual assault is the crime committed, trans people are almost exclusively the victims in such cases.

    Granted that doesn’t mean there aren’t any, but I would expect at least one article from the side of the internet that’s anti-trans regarding the topic, but I currently have only found tumbleweeds.

  15. dangerousbeans says

    The argument isn’t really about if trans health care helps us, it’s about if we should be allowed to exist. Are they deliberately lying or just deluded? Who knows, that’s the eternal question when dealing with conservatives and reactionaries. But they aren’t arguing if it’s better for a trans kid to be supported, they are arguing that it’s better for society to sacrifice the trans kids to maintain current social hierarchies. But being public about wanting dead kids is bad optics, and makes some of the less hateful members feel bad about themselves.

  16. ginckgo says

    This is only tangentially related to this post (though affects trans people): I just came across this weeks old post by our dear ‘friend’ Jerry Coyne, ranting about the new editorial policies put out by ‘Nature Human Behavior’ (and includes equally unhinged tweets by Pinker and Schermer):

    The policy is quite clear that a paper needs to quite severely violate these policies to get rejected on those terms, but you wouldn’t know it from Coyne’s take.
    “New ethics guidance addresses potential harms for human population groups who do not participate in research, but may be harmed by its publication” – especially when including groupings based on ‘race’, sex or gender.

  17. dangerousbeans says

    Linehan isn’t influential, he’s just a loud transphobe. And a good warning about what happens when you make bigotry your entire personality.