Abigail Shrier

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Abigail Krauser Shrier (born 1978) is a transphobic American freelance journalist. She has written about trans people in several major publications, most notably The Wall Street Journal, but is probably best known for her 2020 book Irreversible Damage, an anti-trans tirade that claims girls are being driven to become boys by a social contagion.

Background[edit]

Shrier was born Abigail Brett Krauser[1] circa 1978 and grew up in Maryland; her parents were judges in the Prince George's County court.[2][3][4][5]

In 2007, she became a member of the State Bar of California and became a white-collar criminal defense attorney at a Los Angeles law firm.[6][1] Shrier's law license expired in 2009, around the same time she had become a parent.[6][7]

She has written extensively about transgender people in major outlets, including The Wall Street Journal,[8][9] The New York Post,[10] and Newsweek.[11][12] Her first foray into anti-trans punditry appears to have been an op-ed on "The Transgender Language War" published in the WSJ in 2018.[9] This suggests that, like Jordan Peterson, she followed the free-speech absolutist path into transphobia, opposing preferred pronouns as evil woke totalitarian thought suppression before launching a full-time career as an anti-trans campaigner. Despite her writing on trans issues, she does not appear to have any credentials in a relevant field such as medicine, psychiatry, or gender studies.

Also, as someone born in the 1970s, she has expressed generational antipathy to both Boomers and Millennials.[13] She has a Bachelor of Arts from ColumbiaWikipedia, a Bachelor of Philosophy from OxfordWikipedia, and graduate-level law degree from YaleWikipedia.[14]

Irreversible Damage[edit]

Overview[edit]

In 2020, Shrier released Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters through Regnery Publishing, a conservative imprint that has published Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, and the like. The book endorses the controversial theory of rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD). Shrier contends that the 2010s saw a "sudden, severe spike in transgender identification" among assigned female at birth youth, attributing this to a social contagion that has spread among "high-anxiety, depressive (mostly white) girls" who in previous generations would've "[fallen prey] to anorexia and bulimia or multiple personality disorder".[15]

Criticism[edit]

Irreversible Damage has been widely criticised as an attack on trans people, and for promoting fringe, discredited science. Jack Turban, a psychiatrist specializing in trans mental health, labelled the book "bizarre and full of misinformation" in a review for Psychology Today.[16] He noted that Shrier's objections to providing gender-affirming care for trans youth go against the accepted best practice of nearly every major medical association.[16] He also pointed out that her claim that "nearly 70 percent" of gender dysphoria cases resolve without intervention is false.[16] Sarah Fonseca, writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, highlighted the flaws in Shrier's research: "Staggeringly few of the scholars and medical professionals with which Shrier textually converses have studied trans people firsthand: they've only inventoried the grievances and impressions of cisgender parents."[17] Like Lisa Littman in her widely-criticised ROGD paper, Shrier's research didn't consult trans youth or those familiar with them, but rather interviewed parents who don't accept their children are trans.[16]

The book has been criticised for showing insensitivity toward its trans subjects. Shrier deliberately misgenders the young trans men she writes about throughout the book.[18] Turban, in his Psychology Today review, wrote that Shrier's objectivity was damaged by "her crass and offensive language throughout the book."[16] Ty Turner, a trans YouTuber featured in Irreversible Damage's chapter on the social-media personalities supposedly driving the "transgender craze," posted a critical video. He commented that "The Influencers" chapter "gets to the point where [Shrier] stops trying to make arguments and back them up, and just starts quoting us and, like, giving little snarky comments about what we're saying."[19] He expressed shock that an author with three Ivy League degrees would so "quickly destroy the assumed credibility of her message to focus on lobbing petty and juvenile insults at a handful of specifically-named trans people." Chase Ross, the only trans YouTuber actually interviewed by Shrier for the book, later apologised for his involvement, stating that Shrier did not disclose the planned title of the book in her interview request, and presented it as simply being about "teens with gender dysphoria" rather than an anti-trans polemic.[20]

Parody of Irreversible Damage's cover: a paper doll with a hole punched in her head and the book's title. The image's creator, a non-binary Twitter user with under 1000 followers, tweeted it with the text "transphobia gives you." That tweet lead to the permanent suspension of their main account. They were not given the opportunity to lament their cancellation in a major newspaper.[21]

Critics have also been pointed to the book as a prime example of transphobes' inordinate focus on the impact of transition care on fertility.[22] Its cover features the less-than-subtle image of a little girl paper doll with a giant hole punched out of her abdomen. In a piece for Quillette, Shrier made her pro-natalist concern trolling more explicit, arguing that crowdfunding sites that allow transition fundraisers are enabling "mentally fragile" teens to "remove [their] healthy breasts," but that parents worried their children are "caught up in a movement" that will leave them "angry, regretful, maimed, and sterile" are left without recourse.[15] Dianna E. Anderson, a non-binary author, denounced Irreversible Damage as a "moral panic book" that is "cover to cover filled with mourning over the lost fertility of [people] who [transphobes] see as girls/women", stating that Shrier's "concern about trans men is purely reproductive."[23] The book, in Anderson's description, contains a section on "puberty blockers being a threat to fertility."[24] Academic and author Grace Lavary, similarly, has taken issue with Shrier's fertility fearmongering, charging her with "reaping the benefit of a widely-believed and utterly debunked conspiracy theory that [people] perform hysterectomies on children."[25] Shrier's message is that parents should be more concerned that transitioning may preclude pregnancy and nursing for their AFAB children than how being denied the right to exist on their own terms and forced to go through unwanted (and permanent) puberty changes will impact their mental and physical health for the rest of their lives. This centering of fertility in a discussion of the provision of healthcare to people with uteruses is obviously problematic from a feminist standpoint. Evan Urquhart, writing for Slate, remarked that transphobic fearmongering about fertility "stems from sexist ideas about the proper role of women and the purpose of female bodies: to bear children and to raise those children in the home," except now this "reductive view of women as incubators, milk machines, and day care providers" is "being visited upon trans men just as it's been visited on cis women since time immemorial." The troubling undertones of transphobes lamenting fertility lost to a "craze" they characterise as affecting "mostly" white girls has not gone unnoticed. As one commenter remarked, "gender-critical" feminists are "obsessed with the same fearmongering over collective fertility as white supremacists because, well, scratch a transphobe and a fascist bleeds."[26]

Natalie Wynn, in a video dissecting J.K. Rowling's descent into TERFdom, declared the book to be "essentially to transmasculine people what The Transsexual Empire was to trans women."[27] However, while Janice Raymond's 1979 book, a foundational text of trans-exclusionary second wave feminism, presented trans women as dangerous male deviants and predators, Irreversible Damage presents trans men and boys as vulnerable girls needing protection. As commenter Ben Kesslen observed, "There is such a gross paternalism in the way Shrier and her contemporaries talk about trans youth. Pretending to care, they say they just want to 'protect our girls.'"[28] Wynn has also commented on the stark difference between the transmisogyny she has faced as a trans women and the paternalist infantalisation of trans men:[27]

I think a major problem with media coverage of trans issues is that not enough attention is paid to transphobia against trans men. [...] Something I've noted is tranphobia against trans men is not the same as transphobia against trans women. There's a lot of similarities, but they're really two different prejudices, and they come from different psychological places. In the same way that lesbophobia is different from homophobia against gay men. For trans women, I would say the distinctive experience of transphobia is being simultaneously treated as a pornographic female fetish object and as a dangerous male predator. [...] Whereas I feel like transmasculine people are less vilified, but so infantalised. I guess transphobes view trans men as women, so a lot of misogynistic tropes apply. So much for transitioning to escape sexism. The story is often that these vulnerable, confused girls can't possibly decided what to do with their own bodies, so the courts must intervene to take control.

Silenced: The World Tour[edit]

American retailer Target pulled Irreversible Damage from its shelves for a day due to the backlash.[29] Amazon also rejected a paid advertisement for the book sought by Regnery Publishing.[30] In a piece for Quillette later republished by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,[15][31] Shrier chastised "gender activists" for trying to "cancel" her book, further accusing "Silicon Valley oligopolists" of "implementing blackouts" and "sending disfavored ideas down memory holes" to "[appease] social-justice mobs."[15] This cry of cancellation came in spite of the fact that she writes for major American newspapers[30][11] and that a transphobic concerned citizen's group crowdfunded a billboard for the book in Los Angeles.[32]

"Scratch a transphobe..."[edit]

Although her father Peter B. Krauser was a state Democratic Party chair,[33] Shrier is ideologically aligned with the American right. She has written for right-wing outlets, including The Federalist[14] and Quillette,[34] and appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast.[35] As far back as 2012, she expressed anti-transgender views, for instance negatively reacting to a 2012 New York Times article about a Swedish school that dropped gender pronouns.[36]

She has also appeared in three videos videos for PragerU. The first video, "Preferred Pronouns or Prison", was released in 2019, and advances the same "preferred pronouns are an attack on free speech" argument from her 2018 Wall Street Journal piece.[37] The third video, "Why Girls Become Boys," from March 2021, reiterates Shrier's arguments about trans men from Irreversible Damage.[38] The second video, from 2020, is a book club discussion of Pride and Prejudice.[39]

In the weeks before the 2020 U.S. election, Shrier wrote a piece for The Spectator Australia praising Amy Coney Barrett, Donald Trump's last-minute Supreme Court replacement for the legendary Ruth Bader Ginsburg.[13] The piece extolled Barrett's virtue as a "Catholic with seven kids" and a dignified lady who endured questioning "back straight, alert, respectful, never angry."[13] The piece notably exhibits a bizarre generational resentment, pitting the easy-going centrism Shrier sees in her own generation (Gen X) against the supposed killjoy activist tendencies of the ones preceding (Boomers) and following (Millenials) it:[13]

In this way, Barrett also announced herself as a typically Gen-X candidate for the High Court. A member of that affable and ignored generation that neither sought to transform America nor — for the changes it wrought — endlessly to pat itself on the back. A generation caught between the titanic egos of its boomer predecessors and famously entitled millennials that would succeed it. A generation that still believed you purchased success with hard work; that families could be broadened to include gay marriages but required no more drastic overhaul; that America was both great and good and so ought to be able to poke fun at itself.

In April 2021, Shrier published a Substack screed attacking "gender ideology" and its supposed "sibling", critical race theory:[40]

The way to think about Gender Ideology is that it is the sibling of Critical Race Theory. Critical Race Theory goes into schools to convince white kids that they bear the original sin of their skin color. Gender Ideology marches into those same schools and tells kindergarteners – yes, they do this throughout the public school system of my state, California – to tell preschool children that there are a great many genders and, while someone may have guessed that they are a girl or a boy, only they know their true gender.

[...]

Why would a teacher tell her class of Kindergarteners that only they know their true gender? What could possibly be the justification for telling small boys that they might really be girls and small girls that they might really be boys?

The biggest hint I got to the answer came from the population of detransitioners – young women who underwent medical transition and regretted it. Again and again they told me that while they were transitioning they were angry, they were sullen, and they were politically radical.

They [very often cut off their families — they were coached in this by transgender influencers on line — and they rushed toward their new, “glitter families.” You’ll often see gender-confused people among the ranks of Antifa or at Black Lives Matter rallies. Having turned against their families of origin, they are easy prey for those who recruit revolutionaries.

Put another way: the chaos is the point. Just as the point of Critical Race Theory is to turn the American people against one another, so the point of Gender Ideology is to stop the formation of stable families, the building blocks of American life. Let me say again: this is not the goal of transgender adults. But it is the goal of the Gender Ideology and the transgender movement – namely, the creation of a new victim class, eager to join the revolution.

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Achievement and Reasonable Pride." PrawfsBlawg. June 10, 2007. Accessed July 16, 2021.
  2. Pressley, Sue Anne. "Their honors share special bond on P.G. bench." The Washington Post: August 3, 1989. Accessed July 16, 2021. Article quotes her father: "...my daughter {Abigail, 11} sat in on two trials, lasting about a week each, and loved it."
  3. "Irvin A. ‘Bud’ Lavine, 90, ‘A gentleman to his fingertips’." Washington Jewish Week. February 10, 2016. Accessed July 16, 2021.
  4. "Sherrie L. Krauser." Maryland State Archives. Accessed July 16, 2021.
  5. "Peter Brunswick Krauser." Maryland Manual Online. Accessed July 16, 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Attorney Profile: Abigail Krauser Shrier #250237." State Bar of California. Accessed July 16, 2021.
  7. Shrier tweeted in December 2012 about having a two-year-old child.
  8. Abigail Shrier, "When Your Daughter Defies Biology", The Wall Street Journal (Archive.is link)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Abigail Shrier, "The Transgender Language War", The Wall Street Journal (Archive.is link)
  10. Abigail Shrier, "How 'peer contagion' may play into the rise of teen girls transitioning", New York Post (Archive.is link)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Abigail Shrier, "A British Court Breaks Gender Fever", Newsweek (Archive.is link)
  12. Abigail Shrier, "Who Has the Right to Be Called a Girl?", Newsweek (Archive.is link)
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Abigail Shrier, "Justice for Generation X", The Spectator Australia (Archive.is link)
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Abigail Shrier", The Federalist (Archive.is link)
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Abigail Shrier, "Gender Activists Are Trying to Cancel My Book. Why is Silicon Valley Helping Them?", Quillette (Archive.is link)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Jack Turban, "New Book 'Irreversible Damage' Is Full of Misinformation", Psychology Today
  17. Sarah Fonseca, "The Constitutional Conflationists: On Abigail Shrier's 'Irreversible Damage' and the Dangerous Absurdity of Anti-Trans Trolls", Los Angeles Review of Books
  18. Matt Tracy, "Bigots Swarm Twitter as Target Flip-Flops on Transphobic Book", Gay Star News
  19. "Transphobic Book Targets Me & Other Trans Creators, LGBT YouTubers Promote It" by Ty Turner
  20. "apology for transphobic book involvement" by uppercaseCHASE1
  21. Tweet thread by @CritLite on Twitter
  22. Evan Urquhart, "Don't Fall for Fertility Fearmongering About Trans Men", Slate
  23. Tweet thread by @diannaeanderson on Twitter
  24. Tweet thread by @diannaeanderson on Twitter
  25. Tweet thread by @graceelavery on Twitter
  26. https://twitter.com/autogynamelia/status/1347700086017458177
  27. 27.0 27.1 "J.K. Rowling" by Contrapoints
  28. Tweet thread by @benkesslen on Twitter
  29. James Factora, "Target Removed a Transphobic Book From Shelves — Then Replaced It a Day Later, them
  30. 30.0 30.1 Vic Parsons, "Amazon refuses to advertise renowned anti-trans journalist's book suggesting trans teens are a 'contagion'", PinkNews
  31. Abigail Shrier, "Gender activists are trying to cancel my book; Why is Silicon Valley helping them?", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Archive.is link)
  32. Nico Lang, "A Transphobic Billboard Campaign Could Soon Be Coming to Your City", them
  33. http://2004.mdmanual.msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/30sp/html/msa13094.html
  34. "Author: Abigail Shrier", Quillette (Archive.is link)
  35. Philip Ellis, "Joe Rogan Is Spreading Transphobic Hate Speech and It's Putting Lives in Danger, Men's Health
  36. Shrier, Abigail. "This is just beautiful: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/world/europe/swedish-school-de-emphasizes-gender-lines.html?smid=tw-share … #noitisn't." Tweet from November 14, 2012. Links to NY Times article "Swedish School’s Big Lesson Begins With Dropping Personal Pronouns."
  37. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named prager1
  38. "Why Girls Become Boys"
  39. "The Book Club: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen with Abigail Shrier"
  40. Abigail Shrier, "Critical Race Theory & Gender Ideology" (Archive.is link)