Bigot Reviews Bigot for NYT Book Review

Jesse Singal's brave take on dinner companion Helen Joyce's new book

Ceramic white toilet bowl near grey wall, side light in the modern bathroom
locker room talk

It’s a classic media story: one bigot head nods to the other across a busy room in recognition, but in the form of a book review. This time, it’s Jesse “[gender] is a fraught concept” Singal in The New York Times Book Review on Helen “@HJoyceGender” Joyce’s new book Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality.

First, some summations of key terms: Joyce, a terfy journalist at The Economist who is obsessed with other people’s gonads, distinguishes between trans rights, defined as “compassionate concessions that enable a suffering minority to live full lives, in safety and dignity” and the consummate terror of gender self-identification. Joyce interprets “self-ID” as a political theory that indoctrinated into children by other already indoctrinated children worldwide in which “people should count as men or women according to how they feel and what they declare, instead of their biology.” According to Joyce, one is good, the other bad.

Singal, a man of willful ignorance who often misses the vast and well-documented forest of gender dysphoria for the trees, offers an example of what Joyce might mean “when a fundamentalist strain of gender-identity ideology takes hold” in the form of an anecdote about a “natal male” pedophile and murderer being housed in a women’s prison. In the same paragraph, Singal equates that story with another one from the book about beauticians in British Columbia refusing to wax a trans woman’s pubic area. But these may be straw natal male arguments. The review seems to be mostly concerned with gender-nonconforming children being told “their only real choice is to transition or to suffer forever.” And then those children grow up, and they disrupt public bathroom culture.

I cannot emphasize enough that the through line for these both writers is a concern for girls’ and women’s locker rooms which, to me, seems extremely myopic and also sort of pervy, but hey, that’s their business.

Their argument is that every cis woman should be able to reap the benefits of the safe, womb-like space of a public bathroom. If trans rights legislation with a self-ID bent moved forward in a liberal administration (again, as influenced by children with gender dysphoria), Singal writes that “cisgender women, for instance, lose full access to truly sex-segregated realms that offer protection and other benefits, such as locker rooms, sports teams and prisons, because the primacy of gender identity within this ideology renders the concept of biological sex fundamentally irrelevant.”

Singal’s just stating the facts, sir or ma’am, and trans people aren’t the only ones with “skin in the game here.” Singal concludes that the book is so well researched that “it is difficult to disagree with Joyce’s assessment that ‘intimidation and harassment are carried out openly and proudly’ against many of those who question the tenets of gender-identity ideology out loud.”

Singal calls Joyce “no conservative hard-liner,” but that’s like me saying my dog Mars is “no big loser” when he is actually my only friend and ally. Singal then offers a “full disclosure” that he and Joyce email and got dinner together in 2020. I hope the bathrooms were strictly binary for the sake of these two’s comfort, but I also hope that the line was very long, and that their food was not yet waiting for them when they got back from peeing out of their gendered, god-given urethras.

While I do not agree with the editorial choice of allowing one bigot to review another, it does at least keep them busy and, as such, give me a little privacy in the bathroom without them barging in for once.