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When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  871 ratings  ·  227 reviews
The transgender movement has hit breakneck speed. In the space of a year, it's gone from something that most Americans had never heard of to a cause claiming the mantle of civil rights.

But can a boy truly be "trapped" in a girl's body? Can modern medicine really "reassign" sex? Is sex something "assigned" in the first place? What's the loving response to a friend or child
Hardcover, 251 pages
Published February 20th 2018 by Encounter Books (first published 2018)
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Tim Chambers I shall attempt to answer my own question. Activists are coordinating, attempting to silence anyone who questions the SOGI narrative. Shows the weakne…moreI shall attempt to answer my own question. Activists are coordinating, attempting to silence anyone who questions the SOGI narrative. Shows the weakness of their ideas that they cannot stand the scrutiny. The ends justify the means. Same old tactics. That's what activists did to grease the skids for Roe v. Wade, exaggerating coat-hanger abortions.(less)
John English It isn't on Amazon, and apparently Amazon is banning books now - it seems it's not the only one. It is available on B&N.…moreIt isn't on Amazon, and apparently Amazon is banning books now - it seems it's not the only one. It is available on B&N.(less)

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Brynn Tannehill
Mar 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Note: Page numbers in this review refer to the advanced reader copy of the book that I acquired.)

I have written elsewhere on how to detect and debunk anti-transgender propaganda in science and the media previously. I described fifteen tests, and Anderson’s book fails at every level. I cannot address all of the issues in this book, but fundamentally it is deliberately misleading and designed to push transgender people into the closet.

This book was not science. It is apologetics to support a relig
George P.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“America is in the midst of what has been called a ‘transgender moment,’” writes Ryan T. Anderson in When Harry Became Sally. “Not long ago, most Americans had never heard of transgender identity, but within the space of a year it became a cause claiming the mantle of civil rights.”

The inflection point was probably Diane Sawyer’s April 2015 interview with Bruce Jenner, in which he said, “for all intents and purposes I’m a woman,” taking the name Caitlyn a few months later. A judge legally approv
Jan 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Ryan Anderson has managed to, in the grand tradition of oppressors, write about a marginalized group of people without asking them to tell their own stories. No trans writers, no doctors who treat trans people, no leaders in the trans community, have stepped up to lend their voices to the book or even go so far as to give a quote for its cover. I wonder why that is?

Also, any reference to trans lives and experiences as something that's just cropped up in the past few years is woefully ignorant of
Breck Wightman
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
It seems like there are a lot of troll reviews for this book. Anderson takes the issue on with class and respect. Consider this a holistic approach...he covers gender, culture, politics and policy, law, biology, medical practice, psychology, metaphysics, and more. Highly recommend for social conservatives or for someone wanting to understand the social conservative argument.
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well researched and thought provoking. It was kind of refreshing to hear a different take on the issues, yet i didn't find it transphobic or hateful. It questions some of the science or lack thereof behind what we hear in the media. Some of the issues it touches on are whether the approach to helping a a transgender/gender dysphoric child become their best self should be the same as with and adult? And is transitioning always the best solution or are there other approaches that work for some peo ...more
Todd Miles
Anderson's contribution to the transgender issue is primarily from the policy (state, education, community, science, etc.) standpoint. Of particular interest is his chapter giving voice to the experiences of those who have "detransitioned." It was heartbreaking. Anderson's book demonstrates how void of scientific basis this entire issue actually is and how purely ideological it is. This is a must read for any who are confused by the current state of things or are involved in developing policies ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an important read. There is nothing hateful in this in the slightest. Anderson emphasizes respect for the afflicted, caution for the confused, and common sense protections for women and children. Must read if you're not afraid of nuanced though on the subject. ...more
Gabriella Hoffman
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very timely book on this controversial matter. Ryan Anderson take a very level-headed, respectful tone towards those advocating for transgenderism. He cites numerous individuals with empathetic intentions to show how failed transitions or those who detransitioned need to be heard rather than coerced into dire situations. He offers constructive criticism without demeaning his opponents and offers a scientific sound argument to pose questions of this transgender moment—one that actually ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Jan 11, 2021 marked it as stricken
This would be extremely silly if it weren't so cruel. If you want to know about people who are transgender read a book by a transgender writer. There are quite a few. This book is only fair and reasonable if you are looking for someone to tell you that there is no such thing really. The idea that guidance counselors are trying to convince children that they're a different gender? That a good place to commit rape is a public restroom full of women?

In NC the Bathroom bill gave people an opportuni
David Robertson
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, ethics
his is a stunning book – the best I have read on the subject of Transgender. But it is about so much more than that. It covers issues such as gender fluidity, the difference and connection between biological sex and gender; feminism, politics, government, law and media. Although it is written from and into the American situation (which seems especially nuts) it is certainly applicable to the UK and other areas of the Western world – or indeed any part of the world where Western liberal imperiali ...more
Tanja Berg
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A few years ago I was on a road trip with my sister and her children. We had stopped at a gas station to use the restrooms. As we are washing our hands, a tall person with short hair and trucker overalls walks in. Unthinkingly, I opened the door to the restroom and asked "did we walk into the wrong one?". My sister, furious, "Tanja - she had BOOBS! If you ever question whether it is a man or a woman, look at the chest!"

A few weeks later I was on a horseback-riding holiday in the Norwegian mount
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing, well-researched book. Ryan T. Andersen thoroughly examines this "transgender moment" as he quotes several people who detransitioned, reports on scientific studies, and discusses laws based on gender or gender identity. I too support the approach of seeing “medicine as a practice aimed at restoring healthy functioning, not simply satisfying the desires of patients.” (p.5) It is heartbreaking to read about many people who detransitioned back to their biological sex after operations and ho ...more
Feb 08, 2018 marked it as to-read
Related post here. CT review here. Recommended here.

In Feb. 2021, Amazon scrubbed the book in all its forms. Anderson talks with WORLD about the incident here. More information here. Alan Jacobs has some helpful thoughts here, here, and here.

In March 2021, I inquired at B&N, but they did not carry (and could not order) hard copies; only an e-copy was available. the book is available at the publisher's website.

Fascinating interview with Ryan (May 2021).

Now might be a good time for people to read
Christopher Humphrey
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just completed “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” by Ryan T. Anderson. Every thinking person needs to read this book. Before proceeding please re-read my last sentence. By that I mean this is an important book. The very essence of our culture is at stake. The transgender movement is based on bad “science”, bad philosophy, bad public policy and irrational ontology.

Although Anderson writes about a controversial topic, he writes in a logical and winsome manner. Rather
David Haines
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a well-written, balanced, and sober analysis of the current cultural discussion concerning Gender Identity and Transgender sexuality. The author devotes an entire chapter (ch. 2) to presenting the claims, arguments, and expressed intentions of the activists which are pushing the transgender and gender identification agenda forward. In chapter 3 he gives a voice to those who transitioned from their biological sex to their felt "internal gender", and who then detransitioned. These people i ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am not crazy about the harry and sally part of the title of this book, but to call what we are going through the transgender “moment” does make a very important and encouraging point, ie, that the trans issue, like same sex marriage, are temporary phenomena. The culture will return to truth on these issues. Both were made possible and are sustained only by massive propaganda campaigns, eg, via a sympathetic media. It astounds me when people in media use biologically incorrect pronouns; do they ...more
Paul Herriott
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The hype is real. Anderson has written the best book to date critiquing the transgender moment we are experiencing as a culture right now. Using a broad range of testimony, research, and pop culture, he explains the movement as the fruit of the sexual revolution, one that has ignored the results of studies and the victims it has created.
Joshua Reichard
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have been reading books on transgenderism to really see what is going on in this movement. And this book by Ryan Anderson is a must read. He give solid advice, facts, and truths about how this movement is actually hurting the world. How those who are extremists miss understand transgenderism and try to push their false ideas on everyone! He compared this movement to the movement to remove racism and said the removing racism was bringing a shield to those who were being attacked and mistreated ...more
Thomas Achord
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sexuality
Informative, sad, enlightening, and provides a way forward for policies.
Sharad Pandian
In the beginning of his book, Anderson claims "this book is an effort to provide a nuanced view of our sexed embodiment, a balanced approach to policy issues involving transgender identity and gender more broadly, and a sober and honest survey of the human costs of getting human nature wrong."

He does not quite deliver on any of this.


1. What I think is basically going on, overall:

The default assumption that everyone is cisgender, comfortable with their birth assignment of gender, turns out to be
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A well-written, thoughtful, and compassionate critique of transgender ideology.
Josh Bishop
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thoughtful, thorough, clear critique. I can't recommend this book highly enough. ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a timely and well researched book. Ryan Anderson covers the issue from many angles with sympathy and compassion for those suffering from gender dysphoria.
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021-books
I just recently saw a HuffPost article encouraging parents to affirm their children’s transgender wishes, while another article on the same site warning about not being too quick to neuter our beloved pets. It is insane that we are told to care more about our dog’s genitalia than our kids’! This reality is why When Harry Became Sally (clever title, by the way) is such a timely read.

What an enlightening, frustrating, and helpful book. It’s enlightening because it introduced me to the issues,
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
For a legal, medical/biological, and cultural analysis of the transgender moment, Ryan Anderson's book can't be beat. He relies heavily on natural law or teleology as the basis of his argument, and as a Christian presuppositionalist I think more has to be said to completely buttress the argument (eventually, the "why" of human nature must rest upon the foundation of "In the beginning God"). But Anderson's book is in every other way superb: cogent, compassionate, and comprehensive. ...more
Carl Di-Palma
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
an excellent book that exposes the ideology ( and lack of science) behind the transgender movement, but also acknowledges the deep distress of those who struggle with Gender Dysphoria, especially concerning de-transition.
Susan Kennedy
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. A must read.
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Neil R. Coulter
Feb 27, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is not a perfect book, but I learned a lot from reading it, and I found a number of Ryan Anderson’s points very thought-provoking. It’s helpful first to understand what the book is meant to be: it’s not the final word on the issues Anderson raises, nor is it a comprehensive scientific or scholarly (or even journalistic) consideration of the topic. It really is just what the subtitle says: one person responding to a complex current issue. It’s not an unbiased, neutral response (it’s totally ...more
Vagabond of Letters, DLitt
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it

This encyclopedic reference is lacking only extensive religious arguments against transsexualism and the gender ideology agenda, and how to engage with persons infected by said meme.

Anyone who knows a good book containing those from a traditional Catholic or very conservative evangelical perspective, let me know.
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Ryan T. Anderson researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at The Heritage Foundation. He also focuses on justice and moral principles in economic thought, health care and education, and has expertise in bioethics and natural law theory.

Anderson, who joined Heritage’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in 2012,

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“We need to respect the dignity of people who identify as transgender, but without encouraging children to undergo experimental transition treatments, and without trampling on the needs and interests of others. And we need to acknowledge that taking our sexual embodiment seriously in public policy is not discriminatory.” 3 likes
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