Antivaccine nonsense Bad science Evolution History Surgery

An antivaxxer abuses evolution to go full transphobe

Antivaxxer James Lyons-Weiler, like so many antivaxxers, just let his transphobe freak flag fly high. Does he have to abuse evolution too?

James Lyons-Weiler has let his transphobe freak flag fly high. The other day, I saw a post on his Substack entitled Evolutionary Analysis of the “Trans Agenda” as Mass Sterilization of Youth as Reproductive Spite, and not only is it transphobic as hell, but it abuses evolutionary theory to justify Lyons-Weiler’s transphobia. In doing so, he joins a number of other antivaxxers who have decided to embrace the moral panic of our time. It’s a panic and conspiracy theory about the gender-affirming care of trans adolescents that portrays trans children as having been “enticed,” “seduced,” “tricked,” or even “groomed” into coming out as trans, after which a whole medical-pharmaceutical-surgical complex gets its tendrils into them to pump them full of puberty blockers and hormones—and profiting big time in the process—finally “mutilating” them—irreversibly!—in order to turn them into something unnatural. If you think I’m exaggerating, you haven’t been paying attention. In any event, of late transphobia has been embraced by antivaxxers as diverse as Bill Maher, Toby Rogers, Sherri Tenpenny, Peter McCullough, and others. Within a few months after COVID-19 vaccines rolling out, antivaxxers even co-opted the one utterly unfunny joke that transphobes endlessly recycle about trans people by coining the term “transvaxxite,” defined as a person who identifies as being vaccinated, even though they have not actually been vaccinated.

I was initially astonished at first over how quickly the antivax movement embraced transpbobia and let its transphobe freak flag fly high, but I shouldn’t have been, as I will hopefully explain. First, however, let me reintroduce you to James Lyons-Weiler and then take a look at how he abuses evolution to justify his bigotry. Indeed, the portrayal of gender-affirming care of trans youth as “mass sterilization” is very much of a piece with the antivax obsession with fertility and longstanding false antivax claims that vaccines are sterilizing our young womenfolk. Indeed, the whole idea of a “Trans Agenda” is part of the fear mongering about trans people embraced by a group of bigots who call themselves “gender critical.”

Lyons-Weiler has been topic of this blog on a number of occasions before, thanks to his antivax proclivities. Indeed, out of curiosity I looked up the first time he was ever mentioned on this blog. That was in 2017, and it was a year later before got his “own post” noting the hilarious crank fight that he got into with Leslie Manookian over who is the most antivaccine antivaxxer. That makes him an “intermediate” age antivaxxer in that I’ve only been covering him six years. I thought it had been longer, but given the intensity of his antivax nonsense over that time it’s long enough. After all, Del Bigtree only first came to my attention in 2016, when VAXXED, the antivax extravaganza produced by him and directed by Andrew Wakefield, was somehow accepted to be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. (It turns out that Robert De Niro is antivax and had abused his position as one of the festival’s founders to put his finger on the balance and get the film accepted.) The point is, you don’t have to have the longevity as an antivaxxer of an Andrew Wakefield or Barbara Loe Fisher to be an all too unfortunately effective antivax propagandist, and James Lyons-Weiler has become one of those, particularly since making a name for himself as one of the very earliest conspiracy theorists—it was February 2020!—claiming that the novel coronavirus that ultimately caused the COVID-19 pandemic had been engineered in a lab.

So, with that background in mind, let’s see what the transphobe has to say. First, implicitly denying that he’s a transphobe, instead Lyons-Weiler paints himself as—what else?—a heroic Truth Teller dedicated to telling Hard Truths, or at least discussing “hard” issues:

Please understand that this article was written to create awareness about the new reality involving the interplay between social dynamics and the way people control and influence others’ reproductive heritage. I have not seen this issue addressed by anyone because discussions about evolutionary principles and social dynamics are taboo because evil people in the past twisted Darwin’s understanding of evolution toward their own advantage in ways that led to mass forced sterilization. I am issuing this article as a warning of the hidden dangers of de facto state-sponsored sterilization programs being implemented by certain states within the United States embedded in the Trans Agenda.

If that’s too difficult a topic for you, here are some cute kittens to look at instead.

Such a “brave” truth teller! Who complains that the “Trans Agenda” (whatever the hell Lyons-Weiler means by that) being a danger to our children and posterity, other than every right wing crank and influencer on right-wing media, particularly Twitter? Are you tough enough to handle this discussion? If not, you must be a special snowflake! Or maybe you’re in the thrall of the Trans Agenda, again, whatever the hell that is, if you can’t see what he can see, namely that the “Trans Agenda” is nothing more than eugenics. Through it all, he makes some seriously bizarre claims, such as that spermatozoa are not a live, which would come as a surprise to biologists; that is, unless you define “alive” as being only a whole organism and define the cells making it up as somehow not being alive.

Having been a bioinformatics guy before he turned into an antivax transphobe, Lyons-Weiler next pivots to reassure his audience that his objection to the “Trans Agenda” is really and truly all about nothing other than The Cold Hard Maths of Evolution:

Mathematical models in population genetics can be used to measure the impact of any feature of an individual on the relative contribution of their alleles to the next generation. Most often, we think of evolutionary fitness in terms of the joint effects of an individual’s survival and reproduction stemming from heritable genetic variation. Nature is filled with examples of reproductive spite, sterilization, or restriction of reproduction of some individuals by unrelated individuals.

And what, pray tell, drives this? Apparently “reproductive spite”:

Reproductive spite refers to the phenomenon where an individual’s reproductive behavior negatively affects the survival or reproductive output of other individuals. Reproductive spite can potentially lead to increased fitness for the individual causing harm. In the wild, for example, male chimpanzees and lions occasionally kill cubs sired by rival males after taking over a troupe, or pride. This act eliminates the offspring of their competitors, allowing them to father their own genetic offspring and increase their own reproductive success.

One can’t help but note that “spite” implies motivations that are not there and also that Lyons-Weiler uses examples that really don’t apply. PZ Myers has deconstructed many of them; so I won’t go into a lot of detail, but one example is worth looking at:

Some female spiders may consume their own offspring. This is known as “filial cannibalism”, is seen in many species of fish that brood their live young, and is a form of reproductive spite. This behavior can be driven by a lack of resources or as a strategy to gain additional nutrients for the female, thereby increasing her chances of surviving and reproducing again, thus maximizing the mother’s, but not necessarily the eaten young’s, lifetime reproductive success (Fitzgerald, Trends in Ecology & Evolution).

In some insects, males deposit substances in the female reproductive tract that harm or kill the spermatozoa of previous mates. This approach to sperm competition helps ensure that their own spermatozoa have a higher chance of fertilizing the eggs and increases their reproductive success. While spermatozoa are not live, this feature of competition via spite is thought to be the explanation for the shape of the human penis.

I like how he cites a 30 year old article, by the way, that’s about fish, not spiders. The title is Filial cannibalism in fishes: Why do parents eat their offspring?, after all. In any event, as PZ Myers notes, this is nothing more than rather mundane examples of organisms optimizing their reproductive opportunities:

The spider is optimizing its opportunities for reproduction by recycling its ownprogeny, not that of others. The insect example is just mundane, familiar sperm competition — it’s only affecting the reproduction of others in the sense that if a female is bearing the male’s children, she isn’t available to bear someone else’s. This is just weird. It’s like he doesn’t understand his own argument.

We see this a lot from Lyons-Weiler and other antivaxxers. They have a superficial understanding of evolution or other biological sciences and then employ that limited understanding in ways that demonstrate that they don’t really know what they’re talking about. All his examples are only borderline relevant at best. For example, he mentions examples of plants that release toxic chemicals into the surrounding soil to inhibit the germination of seeds from neighboring plants and vines like kudzu that grow very thick and dense, thus blocking competing plants’ access to sunlight and nutrients, inhibiting their reproductive fitness. These are, of course, nothing more than examples of organisms outcompeting each other for resources and/or making it difficult for other organisms to reproduce as much as they do. At least he concedes that, his use of the word “spite” notwithstanding, in the animal and plant kingdom there is no actual “spite” involved, or, as he puts it, these examples “are not necessarily driven by spiteful intentions as seen in human behavior,” being just “strategies to maximize an individual’s own fitness in a competitive environment.”

Based on The Cold Hard Maths of Evolution, you can probably guess where this is going. While plants and animals don’t have spiteful motivations, humans can, Lyons-Weiler makes his transphobe pivot to claim that the dreaded Trans Agenda is all about mass sterilization because, you know, gender-affirming care can lead to sterilization:

In the current Trans Agenda, in which gender modification surgeries are advocated for minors as “affirming care”, a dark link exists: gender modification surgery often leads to sterilization of those individuals as a side effect.

Certainly, gender-affirming surgery can result in infertility. This is an observation so obvious as to be trivial, but Lyons-Weiler sees it as a “dark link.” He also labors under the transphobe’s conspiracy theory that lots and lots of children are undergoing gender-affirming surgery—again, although he doesn’t directly say it, enticed by “groomers” and big pharma. No matter how often it is pointed out to them that it is rare for anyone to undergo gender-affirming surgery or gender reassignment surgery before they are of legal age, the false narrative that “they” are out there trying to entice children into pumping themselves full of puberty blockers and hormones persists. I will give Lyons-Weiler a modicum of credit, though—but just a modicum!—for not being transphobic enough to be as obsessed with imagery of “cutting dicks off” as Bill Maher is, but the thought process—if you can call it “thought”—behind what Lyons-Weiler is saying is not far removed Maher’s disgust at “sterilizing children.” That is basically how transphobes nearly always describe gender-affirming surgery; that is, when they’re not referring to it as “mutilation.”

Lyons-Weiler also does a lot of handwaving about “direct fitness” and “indirect fitness,” introducing the concept thusly:

It is a mathematical fact that those who support the widespread sterilization of individuals to whom one is not related enjoy a boost in one’s own total reproductive by reducing the direct fitness of others. This can be true even when the individual supporting the program does not have their own offspring. This is possible via inclusive fitness – the measure of the total sum of one’s alleles in the next generation via the successful survival and reproduction of all of the 1st, 2nd, and even 3rd-degree relatives. 

According to John Maynard Smith, the evolutionary biologist JBS Haldane once told colleagues, in jest, that “he was prepared to lay down his life for eight cousins or two brothers”. This was because he understood that two brothers or eight cousins would carry essentially the same number of alleles forward as he carried, assuming they all reproduced at the same rate that Haldane would have if he did not sacrifice himself.

Whenever someone says that it’s a “mathematical fact,” be very skeptical, particularly when he uses such an assertion to support a conspiracy theory. As for “reproductive spite,” one wonders: Does Lyons-Weiler consider it “reproductive spite” if a man who knows he never wants to have children opts for a vasectomy at a young age? Or if a woman with similar motivations undergoes a tubal ligation? What about just using birth control in general, the proper use of which guarantees at least a decrease in “reproductive fitness” as measured by the number of offspring during a person’s lifetime. Lyons-Weiler seems to adhere to a rather religious-seeming view that the purpose of a human is to reproduce, and anything that prevents that is either unnatural or, worse, spiteful.

But remember, “they” are trying to “suppress” The Cold Hard Truths of Evolutionary Biology and History—whoops, I forgot to mention that Lyons-Weiler abuses history too to justify his transphobia:

The invocation of evolutionary theory to explain new emergent practices among humans is considered too controversial for academic considerations to the point of taboo. This is because no one would want to spread the evil ideas of racial superiority and genocide. However, sterilization programs are not at all new to human societies. 

Before modern times, there were limited recorded instances of deliberate mass sterilization or restricted reproduction in history. However, there were some practices and events that could be seen as precursors to or examples of reproductive control.

Examples that he cites include the castration of enslaved people (to “prevent the enslaved population from producing offspring and thus reduce the possibility of resistance or rebellion through procreation”), eunuchs in imperial courts (who weren’t threats to the sovereign’s bloodline), female chastity belts, and arranged marriages. I was puzzled by the example of enslaved people, at least in the US experience, where generational slavery was practiced, particularly as fewer and fewer enslaved were imported from Africa as time went on. If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe an infamous bit in Thomas Jefferson’s accounting book where in 1792 he did some quick and dirty calculations of the return on investment that he got from the births of enslaved children:

The critical turning point in Jefferson’s thinking may well have come in 1792. As Jefferson was counting up the agricultural profits and losses of his plantation in a letter to President Washington that year, it occurred to him that there was a phenomenon he had perceived at Monticello but never actually measured. He proceeded to calculate it in a barely legible, scribbled note in the middle of a page, enclosed in brackets. What Jefferson set out clearly for the first time was that he was making a 4 percent profit every year on the birth of black children. The enslaved were yielding him a bonanza, a perpetual human dividend at compound interest. Jefferson wrote, “I allow nothing for losses by death, but, on the contrary, shall presently take credit four per cent. per annum, for their increase over and above keeping up their own numbers.” His plantation was producing inexhaustible human assets. The percentage was predictable.

In another communication from the early 1790s, Jefferson takes the 4 percent formula further and quite bluntly advances the notion that slavery presented an investment strategy for the future. He writes that an acquaintance who had suffered financial reverses “should have been invested in negroes.” He advises that if the friend’s family had any cash left, “every farthing of it [should be] laid out in land and negroes, which besides a present support bring a silent profit of from 5. to 10. per cent in this country by the increase in their value.”

History can be so disturbing, can’t it? But not necessarily for the reasons that Lyons-Weiler claims.Weiler is basically stretching to come up with historical analogies that he can then portray as nothing compared to eugenics (and, of course, the dreaded Trans Agenda). Citing the horrific history of eugenics in the US in the early 20th century, he then writes:

The strongly negative reaction of parents to news that some state governments – and some in powerful positions in the US Federal Government – want to allow minors to choose gender reassignment surgery – even over the objections of their parents – is understandable from a rational, scientific point of view.

Again, Lyons-Weiler, like most transphobes, seems to think that a child can just ask for gender-reassigment surgery and will get it, rather than such surgery being at the end of a very long process of social transition first and then puberty blockers and hormones. Only after this, if the trans person is doing well and still wants to transition anatomically, will surgery be considered.

Lyons-Weiler, antivaxxer that he is, can’t resist invoking the “pharma shill gambit” and suggesting that It’s All About The Money:

The fact that it’s a boon for allopathic medicine colors the issue for many parents. According to CNN in 2015, The Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery (Wayback Machine) was charging $140,450 to transition from male to female, and $124,400 to transition from female to male.

Whenever I see this sort of comparison, I laugh. For one thing, there are very few surgeons in the US who do this sort of surgery. That’s why there are only around 100-500 gender reassignment surgeries per year in the, US and around 6,000 gender confirmation surgeries. In fairness, the same source points out that the market is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. However much that sounds like though, if Lyons-Weiler wants to see where the real money in surgery is, he should look at the most common surgical procedures performed in the US, whose numbers far dwarf even the must lurid transphobe fears for the number of gender-affirming and gender-reassignment surgeries. For example, approximately 750,000 cholecystectomies are performed every year. For breast augmentations and liposuction, the number is 300,000 each. I sense that Lyons-Weiler’s concern about profits from surgery on transgender people is rather out of proportion to other surgeries. I wonder why.

Weilers has lots of other “concerns,” as well. For example, he’s very worried that these “sterilized” people will ultimately still want children and that the cost of assisted reproduction will be another source of profit for which they can be “exploited.” He’s so very, very concerned that children can’t give “informed consent,” as if physicians and ethicists never considered that point and developed criteria to determine when a minor is mature enough to do so. Never mind how rare it is for minors to undergo gender reassignment surgery, much less at the age that Lyons-Weiler seems to think they’re getting the surgery, age 12-13. Consistent with how antivaxxers like to misrepresent vaccines as “human experimentation,” Lyons-Weiler also refers to gender-affirming care as “experimental,” when it is not experimental.

But Lyons-Weiler is a brave Truth Teller. He even says, “Screw the taboo!” in order to demonstrate how brave he is:

And I am not saying I have evidence the connections are intentional, but I am saying: Screw the Taboo. We owe it to our children and our collective future to ask these questions and to use Science to find the answers. 

There are other areas in which social pressure is used to try to coerce or force parents to put their children in harm’s way for the potential benefit of other children. Social psychologists who are deeply schooled in evolutionary principles should look into the potential role that the vestiges of reproductive spite may play in promoting tolerance of, or even the promotion of increased risk for harm to other peoples’ children in the area of vaccine mandates.

Of course he brought in vaccine mandates, because of course he did. He’s an antivaxxer. He views vaccines and gender-affirming care as horrific threats to the well-being of children and those who advocate the evidence-based use of vaccines to protect children in general against disease and of gender-affirming care to treat gender dysphoria as having evil motivations, that are ideological, financial, or just plain spite.

Nobody should be surprised at how eagerly antivaxxers have jumped on the transphobe bandwagon in response to the moral panic being stoked over the gender-affirming care of trans adolescents or how eagerly someone like Lyons-Weiler abuses evolutionary theory and history to do it. Antivaxxers have long blamed vaccines for turning kids gay, so why not transgender too? Also, the conspiracy theories around gender-affirming care are very similar to antivax conspiracy theories about the childhood vaccine schedule, in particular vaccines causing “autism.” In addition, gender nonconformity is viewed as a grave threat to society in a certain strain of far-right politics, and there is a high affinity between antivax beliefs and that particular far right wing belief system. The surprise should not be that antivaxxers are outing themselves as transphobes. The surprise should be that it’s not even more of them outing themselves as transphobes. Give them time though.

These people could all do with a lesson from the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant.

David Tennant versus a transphobe
David Tennant gets it right. James Lyons-Weiler should listen, but won’t.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

56 replies on “An antivaxxer abuses evolution to go full transphobe”


I know this is an old trope about who you “really” are in terms of whether you are what you claim to be–an honest, objective, science-based MD who is concerned about vaccine misinformation–or, whether you are a political hack, a shill for Big Pharma, and likely the face of an organized editorial group that specializes in leftist propaganda.

With this post, I think it pretty clear you are almost certainly the latter.

My point has nothing to do with the validity of Lyons-Weiler’s thinking. Frankly, I don’t care what he thinks.

My point is about your rhetoric regarding people who don’t subscribe to the required thinking, be the topic vaccines, COVID response, etc. That rhetoric is typically insulting, condescending and sanctimonious when referring to your targets that aren’t thinking “correct” thoughts. In this piece am referring to your use of terms like “transphobia” “bigot” “right wing” and “crank” (among other similar terms to dismiss one thinking “unacceptable” thoughts”).

Do tell Orac–point to one–just one–single “scientific” study that supports the idea that “transexualism” is not a mental illness known as “body dysmorphic disorder” which is typically associated with other mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar and personality disorders? Got any studies that are in anyway convincing to show people exhibiting “transsexual” ideation, do not, in fact, suffer from psychiatric condition(s) that prevent or hinder such people from leading a stable, productive, and happy life?

It’s not a trivial point. Your insulting characterization of people that won’t go along with the idea that biologic fact is exactly that, biologic fact, as “transphobic” is pure hypocrisy on your part, given your obsession with so called “science” based reasoning. Why do you insist on insulting people?

You brought the subject of “trans” to your blog–so, can you, an MD and (supposed) science-based thinker, go on record right now, and define what a woman is?

Is a biologic male at birth who “identifies” as a female, a female? Yes, or no?

If you answer (correctly) no, because, according to science fact, a male is, by definition not a female, and can’t be a female–ever–regardless of the costumes worn–are you, Orac, a “transphobe”, and a “bigot”? Are you part of the “right wing”? It would appear so, since it is not allowed in leftist circles to think that biologic fact based on science defines male/female–and thus such a thinker is “transphobic” and a bigot.

If you answer yes, that a human being with a penis and testicles at birth can, indeed, be a female, despite not being capable of producing/having the biologic structures and systems of genetically female humans–if that is your answer–how on earth do you claim any sort of ability to reason, based on actual scientific fact?

My money says you won’t answer my questions, if you answer at all.

But at least I am good bait for your minions who will certainly do what they are trained to do–be insulting, condescending, and sanctimonious to anyone that won’t hold the “correct” thoughts. To you minions–how about you answer the simple question: what is a man and or woman?

Do tell Orac–point to one–just one–single “scientific” study that supports the idea that “transexualism” is not a mental illness known as “body dysmorphic disorder” which is typically associated with other mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar and personality disorders? Got any studies that are in anyway convincing to show people exhibiting “transsexual” ideation, do not, in fact, suffer from psychiatric condition(s) that prevent or hinder such people from leading a stable, productive, and happy life?

It’s not a trivial point. Your insulting characterization of people that won’t go along with the idea that biologic fact is exactly that, biologic fact, as “transphobic” is pure hypocrisy on your part, given your obsession with so called “science” based reasoning. Why do you insist on insulting people?

Thanks for reinforcing my point, through your response, about how prone antivaxxers are to being transphobic bigots. Trans is not a mental illness, nor is it “body dysmorphic disorder.” Don’t believe me, though. Just look at the DSM-V definition of body dysmorphic disorder:–5-300.7-(f45.22)

The DSM is developed by expert consensus informed by the highest quality studies in the medical literature at the time of the development of the definitions of the diagnoses.

As for the rest of your questions, you are conflating gender with sex, as most transphobes do. That you consider it “insulting” of me to say so concerns me not in the least. I mean, JLW was characterizing the “Trans Agenda” as eugenics and mass sterilization that doctors do for the money and that “groomers”—admittedly, he never uses that word, but it’s clearly implied—are enticing children all because…well, it’s never quite clear, other than “reproductive spite.”

Even if you have issues and doubts about the evidence base supporting gender-affirming care for gender dysphoria and for trans adolescents, that’s a totally over-the-top conspiracy theory, not a reasonable criticism of medical evidence.

Nice try Orac…I suggest you actually read the DSM-V definition you sent…and, if you still believe you are correct, consult a few psychiatrists. You won’t by any means get agreement among all psychiatrists, but you will find plenty that agree with the thrust of my summation about what transsexuality represents from a psychological perspective.

I unfortunately have considerable experience with people suffering from such disorders…I doubt you have any such experience, given how wrong your response is.

Psychiatrists will tell you that psychiatric disorders are, by definition, a spectrum of characteristics….labeling the disorders is difficult and imperfect, because frequently the spectrum of characteristics fit multiple disorders, and, a patient may not present with all the criteria outlined in the DSM for a particular disorder. That said, the DSM labels are certainly useful…up to a point.

DSM is a guide…it’s not a black and white manual. Whether a person meets the strictest interpretation of the DSM for a specific disorder merely means the “label” for that patients disorder is imperfect. It doesn’t mean there is no disorder or problem, simply because the DSM has no perfect definition. I wager you know this, and you hope to dismiss me with a typically simplistic, sanctimonious response, but, no dice.

The psychiatrists I have dealt with typically rely on a theme in terms of determining whether a disorder exists…and that is whether the person is able to lead a stable, productive, and overall happy life. If you read the DSM definition you sent, it is self evident transexuals indeed exhibit many of the characteristics outlined for body dysmorphic disorder. And, given such disorders are typically a spectrum of characteristics, they also typically present with characteristics associated with other DSM labels, such as depression, personality disorder and anxiety disorder…and, they typically don’t present with having a stable, productive, or happy life.

It is hillarious you make the ridiculous claim that gender is different than/separate from sex. Says who? That is pure, unmitigated horse doo….that is prime example of the woke BS circulating today where things are as they are “because we said so”.

The disorder in transsexualism is exactly what you dismiss as bigotry by one pointing it out. The disorder is the disassociation of gender from sex. For you to claim it isn’t a disorder, and there is, in fact, no link, relationship, or association with biologic sex is as absurd as claiming cutting is a healthy expression of stress relief, not a disorder.

Nice try Orac…I suggest you actually read the DSM-V definition you sent…and, if you still believe you are correct, consult a few psychiatrists.

Back atcha. I actually did read the definitions, and they don’t jibe with your apparent definition, which is likely why, unsurprisingly, you now invoke an argument I’ll paraphrase as, “Oh, it’s just a guideline” and its diagnoses “are imperfect.” No shit, Sherlock. The same can be said of nearly all medical diagnoses, to one degree or another. That doesn’t mean you can stretch a DSM-IV definition until it breaks to mean what you want it to mean. (And, no, it is not “self evident transexuals indeed exhibit many of the characteristics outlined for body dysmorphic disorder.” Even if that were true, “transsexual” is not the same thing as gender dysphoria or trans. Also, your continued use of the word “transsexualism” to describe gender dysphoria or being trans tells me all I need to know about you.

As for the claim that gender is not the same thing as sex, well, yeah. It’s pretty much accepted by non-GC docs that that is the case.

I’m sure you’ll just regurgitate the same nonsense again.

Orac, I give you a lot of credit for publishing my comments and responding. I realize at some point, probably with this response, you will cease publishing my thoughts. But, I do give you credit for at least being open to discussion.

My experience with psychological issues, as I said, is extensive, and painful. I have had many conversations with highly educated and qualified psychiatrists. Most, in the abstract, look at individuals from the perspective of whether the person leads a stable, productive, and happy life, as a starting point in determining the severity of psychological disorder. Attempting to claim that people plagued with gender dysphoria are happy, productive (as they are) and stable, is, far more often that not, just not true. And, the fact is, post “gender affirming treatment”, most do not realize significant gains in terms of stability, productivity or happiness.

Your assertion that “care” should affirm and validate the dysphoria is ludicrous. It’s like saying one afflicted with cutting as a means to relieve stress should be supported by giving a cut kit containing sterile razors and first aide. Or, care for a bi-polar person should consist of embracing the emotional swings, and living in the moment, consequences be damned.

I agree, giving care to gender dysphoric folks is called for. But saying appropriate care is “supporting” the disconnect the person is experiencing is ludicrous to anyone that can think.

Gender dysphoria is a psychological illness, period. It is no different than depression, personality disorders, bi polar disorder, etc. It, like those psychological issues, manifest in a life that is not stable, productive or happy as one unaffiliated by the disorder. Period. To claim this view is bigotry is, frankly, bullshit.

As for you pointing to portions of the medical establishment that share your view as somehow being relevant, beyond the obvious profit motive to sell whatever BS is in play, doesn’t change the fact that gender dysphoria is a psychological disorder, not a healthy expression of individuality

Just want to point out that Portnoy’s “just one” study demand is an old pseudoscience tactic (seen it used many times on another subject). Rather than look at the preponderance of evidence they want one piece of it, because this allows them to do two things:

dismiss the study or paper because that one paper doesn’t explain everything
dig into trivial details in that paper rather than deal with the preponderance of evidence

Then they typically also subsequently claim that “one piece” they demanded you show them is the only evidence around.

Just want to point out that Portnoy’s “just one” study demand is an old pseudoscience tactic (seen it used many times on another subject).

Definitely. It’s a favorite tactic of antivaxxers to demand “just one study” demonstrating that vaccines are safe. RFK Jr. and Robert De Niro even made their own version of Jock Doubleday’s “challenge” by demanding “just one study.”

Well, red-baiting Orac is kinda novel. No longer a shill for greedy pharma capitalists, but a front for the propaganda arm of a commie cabal, no doubt led by comrade Fauci.

Not to mention that trying to tone-troll Orac demonstrates, uh… certain faults in perception.

Well, it is true that, contrary to the stereotype of conventional wisdom that one gets more conservatives as one gets older, I’ve been going in the opposite direction. However, I don’t think I’ve reached full-on Communist yet, not by a long shot. 😂

And you’re right. Trying to tone troll me just makes me stronger…

“Trying to tone troll me just makes me stronger”

….you will only return more powerful than they can possibly imagine.

“My point is about your rhetoric regarding people who don’t subscribe to the required thinking, be the topic vaccines, COVID response, etc. That rhetoric is typically insulting, condescending and sanctimonious when referring to your targets that aren’t thinking “correct” thoughts. In this piece am referring to your use of terms like “transphobia” “bigot” “right wing” and “crank” (among other similar terms to dismiss one thinking “unacceptable” thoughts”)”

…and your poncy prose perfectly manages to exhibit all these attributes. Well done.

I took a look at the technavio link you provided, they seem to estimate the MtF reassignment sergment at 231.25 million dollars per year in 2017. (Gender reassignment surgery market) $231,250,000 divided by the cost of $140,450 per surgery, estimates 1,646 surgeries in 2017. Should be more more now in 2023.

I have extremely mixed feelings about the trans issues and I try very hard to avoid thinking about them. I guess this topic triggers some deep seated fears such as the fear of castration or some such, so I try to avoid thinking about it to keep my blood pressure steady.

Yes, people are rendered infertile and shorten lifespan. Why not? Is that good or bad? Why should I be concerned, if my loved ones are not involved?

What if nulliparity is normalized? If so, we will 1) reduce co2 emissions and 2) go through an evolutionary bottleneck of some sort. Nations and ethnic groups that do not practice such things will come out on top, people with the strongest desire to reproduce will reproduce despite obstacles, etc. Life will go back to normal in 100 years or so.

I would like to eat soup at my hypothetical grandchildrens wedding, beyond this I do not care as much.

“What if nulliparity is normalized?”

That is the oddest way I’ve ever seen that term used.

I wonder where you get that shortened lifespan for transgenders from.
Jan Morris for instance reached the respectable age of 94, so I don’t see much of a shortened lifespan here. Unless you think she would have lived to 100 if it wasn’t for her transition.

Why not worry about young people using surgery and injectables, like botox and fillers to get a perfect looking body and face?

“What if nulliparity is normalized?”

No! We must continue the current practice of public stonings.

One good thing – there will always be canned Italian wedding soup available at the supermarket, though the child-free should be barred from purchasing it.

He should say “screw the taboo” to his cis conservative fundamentalist ideas of what is an acceptable way for someone to perceive and express themselves.

And the “mathematical fact” bit is a clue that he wants to make assumptions and then derive results from them, which is mathematics. In science people look at the world around (and inside) them, make observations, and try to figure out what is going on. Those inferences may be conditionally regarded as true, but they never reach the status of absolute fact.

I have not seen this issue addressed by anyone because discussions about evolutionary principles and social dynamics are taboo because evil people in the past twisted Darwin’s understanding of evolution toward their own advantage in ways that led to mass forced sterilization.

The first thing that I was reminded of by this bit was Paul Stanley’s famously unhinged stage rants. This turned out to be sound predictive reasoning.

Oddly enough, that seems to be something that JL-W doesn’t grasp:

Mathematical models in population genetics can be used to measure the impact of any feature of an individual on the relative contribution of their alleles to the next generation.

WTF? Mathematical models can’t measure a damn thing; that’s the wrong direction, Mr. Bioinformatics Core.

Mathematical models can’t measure a damn thing; that’s the wrong direction,

We get some people using the word measure confused with predict in our statistical modeling courses, usually it’s due to inexperience. I doubt that’s the case for JL-W

“It is a mathematical fact that those who support the widespread sterilization of individuals to whom one is not related enjoy a boost in one’s own total reproductive by reducing the direct fitness of others.” – James Lyons-Weiler

Reminds me of someone else who invoked mathematics to support his claims.

“He says it was the steward’s mates who ate the strawberries but if I wanted to take the trouble I could prove to this court geometrically that they couldn’t have.”
– Commander Queeg, U.S.S. Caine

I’ll sleep better at night, though, knowing that James Lyons-Weiler is guarding our precious reproductive heritage. 😀

I get the impression that the anti-trans ideology is getting more mainstream. I hoped that things would have changed after 40 or 50 years, but if things have changed it seens to be in the wrong direction and it makes me worried about my future. Perhaps not at this moment, but when the time has come I would be dependent of care, I wonder how I will be treated.
In the past the anti-trans ideology seemed to be something of some radical feminists, who considered transpeople as a plot to bring women back under patriarchy. Nowadays I find it in all corners of society, not just radical feminists, or rightwing extremists, but also with people one could consider more or less reasonable, though mostly anti-woke.
Currently we have a transwoman winning the title of miss Holland (miss Netherland (otherwise I might get problems)) who gets death-threats, because a transwoman shouldn’t participate in a miss-contest. Weird thing seems to be that Donald Trump opened miss-contests for transwomen. (I wonder if he now regrets this).

What I can’t understand is why whether someone is trans or not should bother anyone else. Whether one is M, F, F to M, M to F, shouldn’t all people be treated well and with respect? Shouldn’t the law protect all of them?

TERFs especially irk me because as feminists they should already know about inequality and being treated as less important and being given less opportunity despite their own efforts. Have they no empathy for others?

I have a sneaking suspicion that some anti-trans sentiment is driven by thinly disguised misogyny:
A man dared to “lower* himself to be a woman, cutting off valuable parts? How dare he !
A woman tries to be a man instead of staying in her rightful station in life!
( their anti-trans parlance, not mine)

It shouldn’t bother anyone not directly involved.
If I were to walk into Calvin Klein and buy a jacket, shirt, tie and trousers and wore them, would any one notice or care? Or if I bought a dress and wore it?
Why shoudln’t everyone else have this right?.

I’d guess you’ve noticed I’m not exactly a Pollyanna, but I think things have changed for the better re: trans issues. The backlash is a testament to progress. If anti-trans ideology is now more mainstream, it’s that in the past anti-trans didn’t need an ideology, so repressed and marginalized as trans was. That hardly meant trans folk were more safe: ridicule, hate, violence etc. were always waiting, with much less recourse to more understanding harbors than there is now.

It’s not that anti-trans ideology has spread out from radical feminism, but rather developed independently, as the places it’s quartered now are hardly congenial to radical feminism either. I’d say the radical feminists needed an anti-trans ideology because the fact of trans messed with their concepts of gender superiority and the politics of queer. That is, the rad-fems and trans were close enough in being outsiders to the norm that there was friction along the lines of difference between them.

I certainly don’t follow these things closely, but my impression is that ‘TERF’ has become an overused, sloppy, and inaccurate insult, as the people and comments to whom it is often applied aren’t radical feminist by any stretch of the imagination. The frictions generated now by trans de-closeting have a few similarities, but many more differences.

Times do change. The reference to radical feminism makes me realize just how far the whole dustup between Carlin Romano and Catherine MacKinnon in The Nation has receded into the past.

I said “TERF” as an easy identifier in this batter.
Maybe ‘anti-trans’ or ‘hater’ is more appropriate.

I tend to use either “transphobe” or “transphobic bigot” these days. I never really used “TERF” because I quickly learned its origin.

I admit my misuse but I have avoided using transphobe because it implies fear of trans M or F, when I suspect the emotion involved is mostly hate of them.
And NO one uses that term at all.

“TERF” seems to have become synonymous with “transphobe,” when in reality the term originated referring to a very specific type of transphobe. Remember, the term stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist.” Very few of the people that the term is used to describe are in any way feminists, much less radical feminists.

Well, you might be right on that one. When I started my transition, we were mostly invisible. And if people knew anything about it, transgenders were not supposed to be people like you and me (well actually like me, but that was not expected), but people active in prostitution, or adult entertainment, so not people you were supposed to meet in your daily life. When I came out, people reacted rather surprised, or sometimes didn’t want to believe me.
Nowadays you see transgenders everywhere. We have a transgender politician and I think you also have one in the US. The subject is far more known and visible and I suppose that gives a backlash. It’s a bit the same with gays, As long as they were mostly invisible, it was more or less accepted, but at the moment they became more visible in society, with gay-rights marches and pride marches, or canal parades, people also got more negative. And thing got even controversial among gay people. Just like some transgenders seem to get more negative about trans-rights, like Caitlyn Jenner

Sterilization isn’t medically necessary as part of gender affirmation surgery. The requirement is arbitrary, imposed by cisgender doctors and policy-makers.

It turns out that a lot of non-trans people freak out at the idea of a trans man bearing a child, including people who oppose transition because the person transitioning might want a child, or because they think someone is being cheated out of grandchildren.

I have an old book on transsexuality (as it was named at that time) of a Dutch doctor, who pioneered in the treatment of transgenders, who was opposed to surgery. When I started my transition surgery was required to get you sex (gender) changed in your birthcertificate. I remember a transgender friend of mine (she was a tranvestite when I learned to know her, but finally came to the conclusion she was transgender) whas rather angry at me, because I didn’t want surgery (because I was affraid of hospitals). It even led to an end to our friendship. In the end I opted for surgery, partly because my mom convinced me, saying I should be a girl, considering my breasts where a bit bigger than hers. Before my transition, she didn’t want to accept it, but in the end accepted it and made a lot of beautiful clothes for me.

Speaking of fecundity, though, the bio at his site mentions that he spawned a child as a postdoc, with no further elaboration.

The closest thing after that is, well,

[o]ver the years, given his extensive knowledge of cutting-edge research in cancer and cancer treatments, James helped his sister, his uncle, his future father-in-law, and several close friends find optimal routes to treatment of their cancer.


He’s a legend in his own mind. He hates MDs FYI. His claim when he was a Pitt was that over 100 research papers are due to his expertise in experimental design and data analysis. Looking at the latest crap he’s had published, some of which has been retracted makes me think that Pitt needs to reassess anything his name is on.

Skyhorse Publishing calls Lyons-Weiler “an impeccably credentialed biologist”. 😀

Speaking of “impeccable credentials”, the Associated Press noticed Steve Kirsch’s claims about the Amish and their alleged protection from Covid-19, autism and other disorders (they’re unvaccinated in Steve’s mind), and has taken them down in a blistering fact check.

Steve, poor soul, is quite unhappy with this latest crumpling of his antivax fantasy Legoland.

@ Portnoy Bliss

Here is a list of scientific papers showing homosexuality, transgender, etc. are caused by different brains. Yet, I could also supply a list that such people are just as intelligent, creative, capable of all human traits; e.g., honesty/dishonesty, compassion/callousness with same range as heterosexuals. Check out the Wikipedia articles. They are excellent.

You attack Orac with extremes of rhetoric backed by only your SICK MIND. If anyone is of need of psychiatric help, it is you.

Gay/Transexual Brain

S LeVay (1991 Aug 30). A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men. Science; 253(5023): 1034-7.

Elke Stefanie Smith et al. (2015 Dec). The transsexual brain–A review of findings on the neural basis of transsexualism. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Review; 59: 251-66.

Cleveland Clinic (2019 Mar 27). Research on the Transgender Brain: What You Should Know.

P.J. Harrison et al. (1994). Is homosexual behaviour hard-wired? Sexual orientation and brain structure. Psychological Medicine; 24: 811-816.

Amirhossein Manzouri & Ivanka Savic (2018 Oct 2). Multimodal MRI suggests that male homosexuality may be linked to cerebral midline structures. PLOS One; 13(10).

Francine Russo (2016 Jan 1). Is There Something Unique about the Transgender Brain? Scientific American.

Ivanka Savic & Per Lindstrom (2008). PET and MRI show differences in
cerebral asymmetry and functional connectivity between homo- and
heterosexual subjects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Nikhil Swaminathan (2008 Jun 16). Study Says Brains of Gay Men and Women Are Similar. Scientific American.

Wikipedia. Biology and sexual orientation.

Wikipedia. Causes of gender incongruence.

Wikipedia. Transgender.

Three thoughts.
1) I really do not see anything mathematical about this statement. It seems to be a statement about biology or motivation, and trying to attribute it to math is just strange: “It is a mathematical fact that those who support the widespread sterilization of individuals to whom one is not related enjoy a boost in one’s own total reproductive by reducing the direct fitness of others.”

2) If Lyons-Weiler et al. are really worried about reproduction (and, as you point out, ascribing to the view that the goal of humans is reproduction only), then – going back to your point about considering history – they should note that rates of birth have been dropping in developed countries as women got more access to reproductive technologies and used them to limit childbirth and allow them to build careers. It’s hardly giving transgender people access to care that led to that drop. Maybe that is why the same people who oppose transgender care are also trying to limit women’s access to reproductive care – subscribing not just to transphobia but to the woman as a womb approach.

3) Pretending transgender people and the need to support them is a new thing is also weird. The first time I came across the issue was in the 1990s, when I was reading the Talmud in the law library in the Hebrew university and came across a lengthy discussion among Talmud scholars on how to categorize and treat people who do not fit into traditional gender categories. It’s certainly not new. I realize opponents would say society’s acknowledgment and the willing to give care is new, but I do think giving more people who don’t fit into the majority access to support they need is progress, not otherwise.

First, JLW is just a poor writer. His post is full of awkward if not downright faulty sentence structures, and off-the-mark usage. In the phrase Narad flagged, I think he’s misused both “models” and “measure”, but the real problem is that the statement is as coherent as mud. It’s meant as a wider truth of which the sentence you quote is a more specific instance. That is, all he’s actually saying there is ‘features of an individual impact the relative contribution of their alleles to the next generation.’

I take this bit of obviousness to be hinting at a sociobiology-ish conclusion like. ‘and that’s why individuals have that feature’. IMO the use of ‘feature’ is an attempt to generalize behavior as the result of evolutionary adaptation, like big brains or opposable thumbs, and by extension ideologies and policy principles as well. IOW, we may think what we think and propose what we propose because that will get more of our genes into the next generation.

The “mathematical fact” is that if people outside of your family tree are sterilized, your alleles wind up being a higher percentage of the gene pool. [Subtraction! It’s math!] He states this again in a passage w/o a nasty proofreading error, informing us that slave castration, chastity belts, and arranged marriages “certainly influenced the reproductive output of others, and thus increased (mathematically) the relative fitness of those imposing the restrictions. ”

Again, the unstated implication is that this is why there’s a “trans agenda”. Spiteful progressives are encouraging genital mutilation of other progressives’ children in the hopes those kids will wind up sterile, giving their kiddoes a leg up on getting the family genes marching on into the future.

But if you could wade through the mud of the claim supposedly backed by that mathematical fact, the reference to arranged marriages probably clued you in that JLW’s calculations of “reproductive fitness” might be a bit suspect, like the ratio of ‘your’ genes to the gene pool as a whole isn’t particularly predictive of your family fecundity.

You might also have asked yourself “if we have a genetic imperative* to eliminate as many competing genes outside of our family lineage, wouldn’t that lead to mass infanticide”, and you’d think that might be a sign the thesis is crackpottery, but JLW has guided you into a revelation about the Real Secret Plan:

Social psychologists should look into the role of reproductive in promoting increased risk for harm to other peoples’ children in the area of vaccine mandates. [heavily condensed for clarity; s.]

@ sadmar:

Did you ever look at his IPAK ** ‘university’ course offerings? Lots of muddy/ crappy ideas there as well. If I had extra money to throw around I might take one because they sound so outstandingly awful but my motto is no money for woo/ BS.

** not iPak, that’s a packaging company

Chastity belts?
I remember reading somewhere (don’t remember where) that chastity belts are a work of fiction. If JL-W referenced those, he’s even more ignorant and off-base than we ever imagined.

So let other peoples children die from vaccine preventable diseases, so they get removed from the gene pool?

More RFKjr news….

( from The Wrap) he had surgery for his vocal problems in Kyoto and is using “alternative” methods to improve his voice.

( from MSN; Mediaite) he spoke at an event where an argument broke out between 2 older men. He espoused a CTs that the Covid virus was created to affect Caucasians and Black people disproportionately but to not affect Chinese people and Ashkenazi Jews. On tape.

That’s about enough.

Mike Adams (who calls MAGA Jr. “the only sane Democrat”) is trying to cover for his mess on NN.

The crazies are circling the wagons.

I’m curious what the likes of Lyons-Weiler make of those who are intentionally childfree, like this household is.

How would they explain our decision not to breed?

Would it be part of some dastardly de-population agenda? Or just that neither of us ever had the remotest scintilla of a smidgeon of a tad of an iota of anything resembling a parental feeling?

That’s all JLW has ever done. He’s never been a credible sort of “scientist” or whatever he thinks he is. He’s a narcissist, at least that was my impression when I met him a few times.

@ Portnoy Bliss

You claim Orac is biased, basically dishonest. You do understand he is a professor of medicine at a major medical center. In addition, he has a PhD in cell physiology, 60 peer-reviewed publications, and 10s of millions of dollars in research grants. And his articles are well-written, often with quality links.

So, tell us your credentials; e.g., college degrees, including major and minors, work experience, and, please, list your publications. Otherwise, I will assume you are just some delusional, intellectually dishonest, sick SOB, suffering from verbal diarrhea.

As part of damage control, RFK Jr. is playing the “some of my best friends are Jews” card.

This effort includes an endorsement by “celebrity” Rabbi Schmuley Boteach*, who previously defended Roseanne Barr and Andrew Cuomo when they got into big messes. Not a good look.

The rabbi is no stranger to controversy himself:

*author of _Kosher Lust: Love Is Not The Answer_

Media Matters is reporting on Sherri Tenpenny’s promotion of anti-Semitic bigotry.

“Tenpenny promoted Jewish “bioweapon” conspiracy theory. In January 2022, Tenpenny shared a video of conspiracy theorist Lee Merritt that has the title, “Ashkenazi Jews not affected by mass sterilization through covid vaccines.” Tenpenny wrote: “Ever hear of race-specific bioweapons? A race-specific bioweapon is a bioweapon designed to affect only certain races, or genetic profiles to which certain genes are common. #Sterilization #BioWeapon #Ashkenazi.”

Tenpenny is tight with RFK Jr. and was one of the “experts” at his recent health roundtable. Two dirty birds of a feather.

Want to respond to Orac? Here's your chance. Leave a reply! Just make sure that you've read the Comment Policy (link located in the main menu in the upper right hand corner of the page) first if you're new here!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: