Twitter has been in our lives for 13 years. But its practice of suspending and banning upright citizens for no other reason than holding incorrect views only got underway about four years ago. Today, the practice is so frequent and widespread that I daresay anyone reading this can point to someone they know, or follow on Twitter, who has suffered punishment by Jack Dorsey in this way.
Most of the people who are forced to sit on Big Twitter Nanny’s ‘naughty stool’ for a day or a week—or forever—hold conservative views. Or rather what is now considered conservative views, even in the mouths of otherwise progressive people (like normative feminist Meghan Murphy).
In a February Quillette article, Richard Hanania, a research Fellow at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, analyzed a list of every prominent person or political party known to have been silenced by Twitter since its debut. An overwhelming number of them were conservatives. He found that even when suspension occurred randomly for violating basic rules (such as posting a political adversary’s private information) was taken into consideration, the odds were heavily stacked against conservatives.
But Twitter has moved way beyond censorship of conservative opinions. A recent case of Twitter suspension demonstrates that even medical professionals citing their own objective reference materials, materials that establish standards of practice, may be held accountable for their offensiveness to special interest groups.
Ray Blanchard is a Canadian sexologist of impeccable credentials. From 1995-2010 he served as head of clinical sexology services in the law and mental health program of Toronto’s CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health). He boasts a 40-year history of sexology research with a specialty in paraphilia and gender dysphoria. From 2008-12 he served on the Sexual and Gender Identity Working Group for the fifth edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the gold standard for definitions psychologists and psychiatrists use as a reference guide in diagnosing disorders.
In short, let’s just say the evidence points to Ray Blanchard knowing a lot more about gender dysphoria than Jack Dorsey.
On May 11, in response to a question regarding his views on gender dysphoria, Blanchard posted a six-part clinically objective answer. Almost immediately, his Twitter account was suspended for violating its policy of “hateful conduct.” A day later, it was restored with an apology for the “error.” What did he say that was so offensive?
Mainly his crime was to refer to gender dysphoria as a type of “mental disorder.” Trans activists are very hostile to this clinical term, because it runs counter to their theory of gender fluidity, the hypothesis that gender identity and biological sex are separate phenomena. Twitter informed Blanchard that he could not be rehabilitated unless he deleted that tweet. This he refused to do, and was prepared to be banned from Twitter forever if necessary over it.
As he explained in an email to me and other supporters, “Gender dysphoria is a diagnosable condition in the DSM … and its status as a disorder is still the basis for public and private insurance payment for cross-sex hormones and sex-change surgeries. Therefore I am correct on the facts. I have come to realize, however, that Twitter does not care whether a tweet is factually correct but only whether it is offensive to a favoured group of Twitter users (in this case, trans/gender dysphorics.)”
Blanchard is no transphobe. One of his six tweets acknowledges that sex-change surgery “is still the best treatment for carefully screened adult patients, whose gender dysphoria has proven resistant to other forms of treatment.” All he advises is caution and patience, with the suggestion that candidates for sex change be eligible at age 21 after at least two years of social transition. That used to be considered plain common sense. Now it is considered a phobic point of view by trans militants.
The courageous Blanchard is one of very few professionals in the field of gender dysphoria who will not be cowed into stating the equivalent of “two plus two equals five.” He will not say the magic words trans activists want to see compelled by law, namely that a transwoman is biologically a woman. He will not waive biological reality to gratify those who suffer from a disorder.
Which is why he suggests a policy that treats post-surgery trans patients’ sexual designation as a “legal fiction”: that is, applicable to a driver’s licence, which has no consequences for other people, but not applicable to, say, transwomen in sports which, as we have already seen, has an enormous negative influence on actual women athletes in sports that privilege speed and power, and yet is now entrenched in sport association guidelines. Blanchard’s recommendations seem to me an elegant compromise based in common sense and a sincere appreciation of the colliding rights currently in play on the sporting field, not to mention in locker rooms and women’s prisons.
At the current rate of escalation by trans bullies in the corridors of policy-making, it is very likely that the next DSM working group will declassify gender dysphoria from the “disorder” category, but with the assurance that the government will find a way to ensure that hormones and surgery costs remain protected payouts by insurance companies. Then nobody will be allowed to say that gender dysphoria is not “normal” (that word is already radioactive in politicized gender circles), and all barriers against indoctrination of children at a tender age into the religion of gender fluidity will fall.
I hope Dr. Blanchard will not be discouraged by his “timeout” on Twitter’s naughty stool. More than ever, hopeless as the battle sometimes seems, we who value both freedom of speech and intellectual clarity need to hear science-based truths from sexologists who know whereof they speak. Fortunately Blanchard’s account was restored quickly. This time.