“What I Wish I’d Said”

Lisa Selin Davis, journalist & author of Tomboy. A self described “old fashioned liberal.” A believer in pluralism. And also someone who wanted approval “from those who’d criticized” her for trying to take a “middle of the road” approach to this issue.

Here’s what she says about her book Tomboy and her motivations.

The book was not an exposé. My goal was to understand gender nonconformity and help other people accept it, to see it as a normal variation and not make decisions about a child’s trajectory based on how much they hew, or don’t, to stereotypes in childhood, or how much they perform their gender role, or the gender role of the opposite sex. I used language like “sex assigned at birth,” because, like many people, I had come to believe that this was the appropriate and respectful terminology. I hired two trans sensitivity readers out of my own pocket. Thus, as one person who recently read it said, “It has genderwoo.”

My editor, to her credit, said at the time, “This is your book. Write what you want.” But what I wanted was a truce in the gender culture wars. What I wanted was to be agnostic. What I wanted was to respect the talking point of trans people offended by the presumption that it was worse to be trans. I’m an old fashioned liberal. I like pluralism. And I assumed that there was a way to determine which kids were trans and what they needed, because I know adults who medically transitioned and are happier for it, feeling it’s worth the risks. 

But I was also, admittedly, seeking approval on some level from those who’d criticized me. They told me that I couldn’t be too nuanced because my words would be used in right wing attempts to oppress trans people. They listed the points I should hit: that sex is complicated. That perhaps the rise in numbers is the result of more acceptance. That everyone has an innate gender identity. I didn’t push back much, both because I didn’t feel emotionally strong enough and I didn’t have the scientific knowledge to do so. Nor, as a freelancer, did I have any institutional support. That is, I neither had the words to say, nor the courage or support to utter them.

She regrets that approach now.

And then, last year, I peeked. And then I peaked. By the time the paperback of TOMBOY was coming out last December, I had spent months inside a rabbit hole I had both ignored and hadn’t really known existed when I wrote the book (yes, these contradictions can coexist). And what I saw was jaw-dropping, frightening and sad. But I couldn’t rewrite the book, or even write a new foreword. I could only make slight changes that wouldn’t shift the pagination, and I did the best I could. Thus, please read the paperback edition!

Since then, I’ve gone even deeper down the rabbit hole. I found out about the low-quality of the research on what we now call gender affirming care for children, but were once called sex changes. Or that some of the drugs we prescribe to gender dysphoric children are those once used for chemically castrating gay people, and still used to chemically castrate sex offenders. I found out that we have no long-term research on kids who transition, that we have new cohorts of adolescents never before seen, many with complex psychological or neurological issues, and that the suicide statistics are overblown and that the vast majority of children with gender dysphoria desist and a majority grow up to be gay. (For more, check out my piece in Skeptic). 

None of that is in TOMBOY. If the publishing industry, and the media which has refused most of my pitches, become more open to telling complex stories about this subject, it will be in the next book, a proposal for which I have ready.

Read the rest of her Substack article.


I’m a Classic Christian and think Gender Ideology is anti-creational to the core. This blog is about “God’s Good Creation.” That’s why I’m writing about Gender Ideology. And “speaking up” as I’m confident Jesus would.

"Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female.'" [Matt 19:4]

If you would like more detail on how my Christian worldview informs my understanding of Sex and today’s Gender Ideology please read the following posts.

The Natchez by Delacroix – 1835
Oil on Canvas
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Love refuses to affirm confusion.