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Bookcase: Gender Hurts, by Sheila Jeffreys

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

I recently delved into Sheila Jeffrey’s’s book Gender Hurts: A Feminist Perspective on Transgenderism. Jeffreys is a professor at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She identifies as a radical feminist. I certainly don’t.

However, as I mentioned in my last post and in my August 27 Federalist piece here, her perspective overlaps with mine when it comes to the phenomenon of “gender identity.” She sees the current obsession with gender identity as harmful. So do I. She views the transitioning of children as a human rights violation. So do I. She recognizes that sex change surgery is a form of genital mutilation. So do

She also recognizes that transgender law threatens to dismantle women-only spaces that are critical to helping women feel and be safe. It hurts people within families who must completely discard their close relationships with their spouse, children, siblings or parents in order to accommodate a fantasy that often requires they walk on eggshells. And Jeffreys is dead right that any discussion of the above is being silenced through bullying techniques of an hyper-activist transgender lobby that insists the entire world get with their program, no questions asked. And indeed this lobby is actually dominated by “trans-women” who are primarily heterosexual males “identifying” as lesbians.

I am grateful to Jeffreys for publishing Gender Hurts at such a critical time, as we work to untangle this strange web of deception in the culture. She presents many crucial facts about transgenderism, including the regret felt by survivors, those who go back to identifying with their birth sex. In discussing the psychological basis of “gender dysphoria” she refers to the work of Paul McHugh, the psychiatrist who shut down the gender identity clinic at Johns Hopkins University and the British psychiatrist Az Hakeem who has worked hard to make sure that patients are fully informed before they consent to any kind of treatment.

I part ways with Jeffreys on her radical feminist/lesbian perspective that basically identifies male misogyny as the root of all oppression of women. (She objects to gender identity because she believes it reinforces harmful stereotypes rather than diminishing them. I see her point there, but it’s not the whole point.)

I’ll go out on a limb and say just one thing about “male oppression.” I don’t believe it comes from maleness as much as it comes from being human and looking for acceptance and status. That’s what drives a lot of aggression, male or otherwise. And if there’s a sorting system for dominance, it’s much more pronounced among males themselves than between males and females. Violent alpha males dictate their ill will and their terms onto all other males. In so doing, they can then inflict their violence onto everybody else. That’s why central planning is so lousy. A few aggressive folks at the top, usually men and their female enablers — with few opportunities for anybody else. If you want to see “patriarchy” in action, communism’s your man. The Gloria Steinem wing of feminism basically acquiesces to men who behave badly and it serves the scheme of centralized power. Their basic litmus test is abortion.

In essence, I think a big part of the battle is about making sure the right men win, as well as the right women. Which means that all women of goodwill band with all men of goodwill and create a better world for all of humanity.

But I’m glad to see Sheila Jeffreys challenging the hackneyed Steinem brand of feminism and the nasty gender politics that come with it, even if I don’t accept the whole framework of Jeffreys’ logic. Gender Hurts, published just this year, is creating a very welcome earthquake in the conversation about transgenderism.

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