Genspect rebuttal

It’s now nine months since we gave birth to Genspect and it has been a very productive time. Among other things, we have created a series of Brief Guidance for a range of different groups such as parents, schools and professionals, we have created websites such as Stats for Gender and Genspect Unheard, and we held the first ever ROGD conference in the world.

We have also been subjected to a smear campaign. We expected this. We were well aware that anybody who speaks up about gender issues in this heightened atmosphere is immediately pounced on. See, for example, Helen Joyce; Prof Kathleen Stock; and, of course, the inimitable JK Rowling.  

Our purported crimes are complicated because they are, frankly, outlandish. This is why we hesitated to respond to these questions: we feared that they were rooted in “concern trolling”, when people disingenuously express concern about an issue in order to undermine or derail genuine discussion. However, we now believe that we should respond to these allegations for fear that people believe them. We appreciate your patience as we go through these accusations and offer our explanations, in good faith and with honesty and sincerity.

While we hope to provide a comprehensive response, there may be something we miss: if so, please let us know by speaking with us directly. We are open to dialogue, as all people in our movement should be. What we are not open to is the TRA-style behaviour of the hit-piece, which demonstrates nothing but bad faith. Social media is a fraught place; as we take ourselves and our work seriously, we have requested that people email us with any concerns they might have. This has become, however, our first “crime”: requesting emails rather than accusations made on social media. To date, we’ve received eight genuinely concerned emails and we’ve answered them. We believe that social media creates a strange environment which supports petty gossip and where discussion can become heightened. We continue to believe that anyone with concerns should email us first. We would urge you to consider what kind of person would speak about you, rather than to you, if he or she had concerns about you, particularly if the language used was laced with invective and ad hominem.

Another accusation is that we have “links with” virtuous paedophilia and we are somehow “paedophile apologists”. We don’t quite know what to say about such a baseless, barbarous and inappropriate accusation, and this is the main reason why we have been reluctant to write this rebuttal. No “virtuous paedophile” has ever been listed on our site, nor advised us in any capacity, on any level, in any manner. We have never been, and never will be, “paedophile apologists”: we deeply object to this smear, and we emphasise that there is absolutely nothing behind it, and there never has been. No advisor or team member has ever been removed from our website. Our team and our advisors are easy to check on Our Team.

The big “smoking gun”, as it were, is that our founder Stella O’Malley co-hosts a podcast Gender: A Wider Lens with Sasha Ayad. Sasha and Stella are exploring the pioneers of gender research in this podcast, and have carried out a series of interviews with experts in the field, such as Dr Paul Vasey, Dr Ken Zucker, Dr Susan Bradley, Dr Rittakerttu Kaltiala, Dr Annelou de Vries, Dr Thomas Steensma, Dr Michael Bailey and Dr Ray Blanchard, among others. To be explicit, none of the people named in the list above are part of Genspect, nor have they ever had any connection with Genspect. Nonetheless, these interviews have been incredibly informative, and Genspect is proud to sponsor this podcast.

Scientific enquiry is the basis of the most progressive thought, and this podcast is presenting the most wide-ranging and informative takes on gender that we know of. At Genspect, we strongly reject the concept of guilt by association, as would anyone who has any knowledge of history. Merely watching a stage production of The Crucible should suffice to justify this position. Frankly, it’s profoundly inappropriate for anybody to accuse Genspect – or anyone else – of links with so-called “pedo apologists” on such a flimsy basis. We request that we are judged by our work and not by vague and tenuous links to people whom Stella and Sasha have interviewed on their wide-ranging and very helpful podcast. Given that the podcast’s many guests would disagree with one another fervently and passionately on many matters, the flaw in the “guilt by association” model should be clear. Genspect fully supports Stella and Sasha in their excellent work with regard to gender issues.

Much has been made of Stella being listed on the GD Working Group website. If you care to look at the website in question, you will see that the GD Working Group is now defunct; that Stella hadn’t actually contributed anything to this website; and that, perhaps most importantly, this website gives no grounds for suspicion. Again, leaps of logic are being made within the framework of “guilt by association”, and so it is an incorrect assumption that everyone who is listed on this website is linked together. They’re not and never have been. Stella has never attended any meetings – if indeed there were any – in association with this website. This was a small website that offered “thinkpieces” from time to time, and barely amounted to anything more than a directory of parties concerned about a phenomenon which was hardly known at the time the site was founded.

Much is also made of Genspect retweeting the researcher James Cantor. Cantor is the researcher who provided the world with the statistic that roughly 80% of children with gender dysphoria will eventually desist – and we thank him for this. This particular statistic is one of the most helpful pieces of information that is available on GD children. At Genspect, we don’t shoot the messenger; we are only interested in the truth of any given matter. We also note that the vast majority of people who have quoted this important statistic, and other important research by Cantor, have not been immediately linked with “virtuous paedophilia”. Critically, some of the people who have argued that our citation of Cantor’s work is grounds for suspicion have also cited this exact statistic themselves, and then deleted comments pointing this out.

We also note that, according to this crazed idea of guilt by association, everyone who uses the term autogynephilia could then be immediately linked with virtuous paedophilia, as it was Blanchard and Bailey who respectively coined and disseminated the term autogynephilia. We do not believe that this is a rational way to operate. We note that many other professionals in this world have retweeted Cantor; are linked with GD Working Group; have made reference to the ground-breaking work of Blanchard and/or Bailey; and these people and organisations are not on the receiving end of similar allegations. We believe that the reason for this is because Genspect is being targeted in a smear campaign. We have been very disappointed that the many, many comments in support of Genspect have been immediately deleted by those that make untrue allegations. We are also disappointed that known TRAs have been very supportive of the videos that smear us and this fact continues to be ignored.

We have also been accused of being “anti-safeguarding”. The issue in this case seemed to be that, on Sasha and Stella’s podcast, Dr Michael Bailey made a passing reference to work by Ken Zucker from 1997, which described a young boy who was masturbating. People seemed to think that this was, by definition, a red flag for safeguarding. However, anyone familiar with the literature will know that this is not a fully informed outlook: childhood masturbation can be, but is not always, a safeguarding issue. Zucker’s chapter was about transvestic fetishism, and appeared in a book entitled Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment and Treatment. Nothing about this book made for comfortable reading. It is clear to anyone who listens to the podcast that neither Sasha nor Stella had any prior knowledge of this reference, which was only mentioned in passing by Dr Bailey. It is equally clear that neither host was condoning any particular behaviour. However, Zucker is well-known as a meticulous and respected researcher; Zucker’s chapter also passed the standard pre-publication review process in place at the time. It is absurd to hold Genspect accountable for any putative failures in that process which may have happened decades before we existed (and we simply don’t know whether any such failures took place). We note that the boy in question would now be roughly 30 years old; the people who criticised Sasha and Stella’s podcast did not address this point.*

We have a safeguarding policy on our website. It is disappointing that nobody seems to have acknowledged this, including those who purport to have an interest in the matter of safeguarding. We are also keen to point out that it is anti-safeguarding to throw accusations of paedophilia around with reckless abandon. An allegation of paedophilia is a very serious accusation: if a person has genuine concerns, we request that they give it the serious attention it deserves and do something about it, in the appropriate manner, rather than engage in social media gossip.

Another “crime” of which we have been accused in this smear campaign is that we are in favour of “bottom surgery” for kids, puberty blockers, and gender-related paediatric medical interventions in general, and that we are thus gender ideologues. This article puts forward Stella’s views on gender dysphoria. Furthermore, we can categorically state that Genspect is, and has always been, wholly against medical intervention for gender-distressed children. We hold a developmental understanding of gender dysphoria that directly disputes the idea that people have an unfalsifiable gendered soul within us. We make this clear on our website again and again.

We were criticised repeatedly as a result of one badly worded phrase: we said that puberty blockers for minors were unethical in almost all cases. This phrasing left room for precocious puberty, and people with special needs who might suffer unduly from early puberty. However, it wasn’t appropriate in the context of gender dysphoria, and we therefore chose to remove it. Not only has this phrase been removed, we wish to point out that our website contains tens of thousands of words, all pointing to our position that is fully against the medicalisation of children and young people. We are not perfect and we never claim to be, but our position is unambiguous on this matter. We are disappointed that anybody would leap on one badly worded phrase, ignore the thousands of words that suggest otherwise, and pretend that this is a decent way to behave. Someone who had good faith motivations would simply email us and enquire about it so we could take the opportunity to correct it.

We are aware that some people are very annoyed that one of our members, in a private chat, tried to get lies that linked Genspect to paedophilia taken down. We ask anybody who is annoyed about this: what would you do if your good name was linked to paedophilia by someone who is engaging in a smear campaign against you, overlooking all the information above in the process? We defend our right to stand up for the truth. That’s one of the reasons we created Genspect. The work we do is centred on parents whose families have often been traumatised by gender ideology and they need to retain their anonymity. It is not difficult to understand why this is the case and this is why we seek confidentiality as much as possible.

We would like to take this opportunity to point out that we are horrified by the treatment of DSD Families, who have also been subject to a similar smear campaign, and we offer solidarity to them. The attacks on DSD advocates have been nasty, and disgraceful. We abhor the use of language like “dudes without dicks” to describe women with CAIS; we find it bitterly ironic that, having been weaponised by TRAs, people with DSDs now find themselves under similar attacks from those who purport to be “on the other side”. It is regrettable, yet understandable, that people have resorted to strong language, given this unprecedented attack on those who became embroiled in this debate not by choice but by accident of biology; while we would counsel de-escalation on all parts, we stand by our allies in the DSD advocacy community in repelling these scurrilous and dehumanising attacks.

The final – and perhaps most unhinged – allegation that we wish to address suggests that the billionaire Jennifer Pritzker is funding Genspect. What can we say? This is not only untrue but ridiculous. We started with nothing but goodwill, hard work and a GoFundMe. We are funded entirely by our fundraiser and by private donations from parents who appreciate our work. We don’t sell merch; we don’t ask anyone to buy us a coffee. What we do instead is provide a range of services and hope that our work is appreciated in a practical manner. Stella and Angus, with the help of the parents who support them, set up Genspect exactly as we have always described. The conjecture about who supports us and the presumption that there is some nefarious funding behind us seem to be driven by the fact that we provide good and useful content. We make no apologies for this; we’re proud of our output and we remain humbled by the astonishing level of support that parents offer us. 

We are flattered that we are perceived as a polished and professional organisation with millions of dollars behind us – chance would be a fine thing! – and for this we have to thank Stella, Angus and the Genspect team who work hard to make sure our website and output not only look good but operate well. We are dismayed that competence and polish are being treated as though they are “smoking guns”, and we wonder about the motivation of people who wish to undermine our good work.

If you are interested in the truth, we urge you to check these issues out for yourself. We have nothing to hide. We will answer any questions you have if you email us; we will also add an addendum to this rebuttal if we have overlooked something significant. Our work is plain to see on our website, and our position is also perfectly visible on our website. This has always been the case, and will always remain the case, and we encourage you to look through our website in its entirety and make your own evaluation of our stance, in good faith, rather than relying on third- or fourth-hand information which does not constitute “legitimate questions” so much as bad faith.

Finally, we look forward to our webinar that will be highlighting Detrans Awareness Day on Saturday, March 12. We have put a lot of work into this event, and we believe it will be powerful yet heartening. In many ways, Genspect originated in the first ever Detrans conference in Manchester in 2019, as it was there that Stella met some parents who sought to create a parents’ support group. From this, the GDSN was established by Stella in March 2020; then, roughly a year later, Genspect came about. For that reason, you can imagine that it is an emotional moment for us that we are able to host this second detrans conference.

We have enjoyed working at Genspect so far. However, it has been extremely gruelling to deal with a constant stream of misinformation, which is why we appreciate any support you feel you can offer us.

*Post-publication edit. We welcome any clarifications and corrections, and are always open to your feedback.

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