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Spotify’s Joe Rogan suggests Trans are sign of “civilizations collapsing”

Despite Rogan repeatedly espousing misinformation & bigotry, Spotify has refused to take any action to quell his harmful commentary

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Alex Paterson | WASHINGTON – Spotify’s Joe Rogan once again peddled harmful anti-trans rhetoric during his January 25 podcast, suggesting that social acceptance of trans people is a sign of “civilizations collapsing” while his guest, right-wing provocateur Jordan Peterson, equated being trans to a “sociological contagion” comparable to “satanic ritual abuse.” 

Rogan has frequently used his platform: To promote smears against trans people, spread conspiracy theories, and espouse COVID-19 misinformation.

His show is streamed exclusively on Spotify and is the most popular podcast on the platform. As The Washington Post has noted, “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, Rogan reaches nearly four times as many people as prime-time cable hosts such as Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.”

Peterson is a former Canadian psychology professor who rose to prominence in far-right circles by promoting extreme misogynistic and anti-trans rhetoric. Peterson largely disappeared from the public sphere in 2019 but has recently returned to his role as a darling of the right-wing propaganda machine, with 4.5 million subscribers on his YouTube channel alone. 

Peterson claimed that being trans is a “sociological contagion” comparable to “satanic ritual abuse”

During the podcast, Rogan and Peterson speculated on what causes a person to be trans. Peterson asserted that the answer is a “sociological contagion” comparable to “the satanic ritual abuse accusations that emerged in daycares in the 1980s,” referring to the “rash of false allegations” about supposed occult child abuse that fueled the “satanic panic” during the 1980s and early 1990s. 

Peterson repeated his opposition to the Canadian federal Bill C-16, which amended the country’s human right protections to include gender identity, and baselessly asserted that amending “sex categories” in nondiscrimination measures would “fatally confuse thousands of young girls.”

Rogan also cited the work of anti-trans author Abigail Shrier — a previous guest on his podcast — around the inaccurate concept of “rapid onset gender dysphoria.” Rapid onset gender dysphoria comes from a flawed and since-corrected study by Brown University researcher Dr. Lisa Littman which suggested that trans youth — primarily trans boys — are rapidly identifying as trans due to “social and peer contagion.” Littman’s study has been described by a colleague as “below scientific standards,” as it relied on “survey responses from parents who had visited sites promoting anti-trans views,” and it did not actually survey trans youth themselves.

Transcript from from the January 25, 2021, edition of Spotify’s The Joe Rogan Experience:

JOE ROGAN (HOST): What do you think it means when someone is so attracted to the idea that they were born in the wrong body — it means so much, they are so compelled that they are willing to go through surgery to change it?

JORDAN PETERSON (AUTHOR): God, it means all sorts of things. I knew a kid in Toronto who was on the autistic spectrum, and a lot of the people who are manifesting serious issues with gender identity are on the autism spectrum —

ROGAN: This is like Abigail Shrier’s work and rapid onset gender dysphoria amongst women.

PETERSON: Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s a different thing, the rapid onset. Part of the reason I objected to Bill C-16 to begin with was because I knew full well as a clinician that as soon as we messed with fundametal sex categories and changed the terminology, we would fatally confuse thousand of young girls. I knew that, because I knew the literature on sociological contagion. And it stretches back like 500 years that literature — 300 years.

 … 

And so psychological contagions are very common. And so one of them, for example, was the satanic ritual abuse accusations that emerged in daycares in the 1980s. And that was a consequence of women going into the workforce en masse, leaving their children with strangers and starting to have pathological fantasies about it, especially if they were borderline schizophrenic. And those fantasies propagated into the population.

ROGAN: So you think that a lot of what’s going on with people that want to change gender is creativity?

PETERSON: No, I don’t think so.

ROGAN: So what do you —

PETERSON: I know so.

ROGAN: You know so.

PETERSON: Yeah, but that’s not all of it, but that’s definitely part of it.

ROGAN: But there are for sure a lot of people that transition — and there has been work on this that shows that if they didn’t transition, they wanted to transition at one point in time and then they eventually wound up becoming gay men. This is males to females, right?

Rogan and Peterson also suggested that trans people are a sign of “civilizations collapsing” 

Later in the same episode, Rogan and Peterson suggested that the acceptance of trans people is a sign of “civilizations collapsing.” 

This bizarre theory has been an ongoing fixation for Rogan. In September 2020, he discussed this claim with The Spectator’s Douglas Murray, who asserted that trans issues “will be seen to be a late-empire, a bad sign of things falling apart.” Notably, Rogan has repeated this claim in several episodes of his podcast since, including on September 24, 2020September 15, 2021, and January 20.

Transcript from the January 25, 2021, edition of Spotify’s The Joe Rogan Experience:

OE ROGAN (HOST): I’m sure you’re familiar with Douglas Murray’s work? 

JORDAN PETERSON (AUTHOR): Yes. And Murray — who’s very funny, who I like very much, and who’s one of the most courageous people I’ve ever met.

ROGAN: Yeah, he’s brilliant. And he had an amazing point about civilizations collapsing, and that when they start collapsing they become obsessed with gender. And he was saying that you could trace it back to the ancient Romans, the Greeks.

PETERSON: Yeah, Camille Paglia has made much of that. I think probably it’s not so much an obsession with gender, it’s a disintegration of categories as a precursor — like so it’s a marker for — if categories just dissolve, especially fundamental ones, the culture is dissolving because the culture is a structure of category. That’s what it is. So in fact culture is a structure of category that we all share, so we see things the same way, so that’s why we can talk. I mean, not exactly the same way, because then we would have nothing to talk about, but roughly speaking, we have a bedrock of agreement. That’s the Bible, by the way.

Despite Rogan repeatedly espousing misinformation and bigotry to his large audience, Spotify has refused to take any action to quell his harmful commentary. On January 12, 270 doctors, physicians, and science educators published an open letter “calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform.” The letter has since gained over 1,000 signatures. 

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Alex Paterson is a researcher for the LGBTQ program at Media Matters, where he has worked since 2019. Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Montana State University and has a background in LGBTQ advocacy, including previous work at the National LGBTQ Task Force and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

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New study on resilience & mental health among LGBTQ youth

LGBTQ youth with high resilience had 59% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt- 69% lower odds of considering suicide in the past year

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NEW YORK – The Trevor Project observing the 53rd anniversary of the riots at the Stonewall Inn that sparked a greater movement for LGBTQ+ rights and equality this week, released new data that examines resilience and mental health among LGBTQ youth.

“As we celebrate Pride Month and commemorate the Stonewall Riots, there is often discussion of the ‘resilience’ of the LGBTQ community and the ways in which members are able to bounce back in the face of adversity. These data highlight the fact that resilience is not just an admirable quality – but one that can be associated with improved mental health among LGBTQ youth,” said Dr. Jonah DeChants, Research Scientist at The Trevor Project.

“Higher resilience in our sample was consistently associated with better mental health outcomes including decreased risk for anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts in the past year among LGBTQ youth. Moving forward, we should invest further research into understanding how LGBTQ youth can successfully develop high resilience. Additionally, we should work to dismantle systems of oppression and implement LGBTQ-inclusive anti-discrimination protections  so that LGBTQ youth are not required to possess resilience to excel and thrive.” 

Key Findings:

  • LGBTQ youth with high resilience had 59% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt, and 69% lower odds of considering suicide in the past year, compared to LGBTQ youth with low resilience. 
  • LGBTQ youth with high resilience reported 81% lower odds  of anxiety symptoms, compared to LGBTQ youth with low resilience. 
  • LGBTQ youth with  high resilience reported 79% lower odds of recent depression, compared to LGBTQ youth with low resilience. 
  • LGBTQ youth who have supportive families and  are in supportive environments have higher resilience.
  • LGBTQ youth ages 18 to 24 reported significantly higher resilience than LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 17. 

Read the report:

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Research/Study

150 people on Tennessee’s sex offender registry for HIV-related conviction

Nearly one-half of HIV registrants on the SOR were women and over three-quarters of HIV registrants were Black

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – At least 154 people have been placed on Tennessee’s sex offender registry (SOR) for an HIV-related conviction since 1993, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Enforcement of HIV crimes in Tennessee disproportionately affects women and Black people. Nearly one-half of HIV registrants on the SOR were women and over three-quarters of HIV registrants were Black.

Tennessee’s two primary HIV criminalization laws—aggravated prostitution and criminal exposure—make it a felony for people living with HIV to engage in sex work or other activities, such as intimate contact, blood donation, or needle exchange, without disclosing their status. Both are considered a “violent sexual offense” and require a person convicted to register as a sex offender for life.

Examining Tennessee’s sex offender registry, researchers found that Shelby County, home to Memphis, accounts for most of the state’s HIV convictions. Shelby County makes up only 13% of Tennessee’s population and 37% of the population of people living with HIV in the state, but 64% of HIV registrants on the SOR. Moreover, while Black Tennesseans were only 17% of the state’s population and 56% of people living with HIV in the state, 75% of all HIV registrants were Black.

In Shelby County, 91% of aggravated prostitution convictions resulted from police sting operations in which no physical contact ever occurred. In addition, the case files showed that 75% of those convicted were Black women. When it came to criminal exposure case files, all of those convicted except one person were Black men.

“Tennessee’s HIV criminal laws were enacted at a time when little was known about HIV and before modern medical advances were available to treat and prevent HIV,” said lead author Nathan Cisneros, HIV Criminalization Analyst at the Williams Institute. “Tennessee’s outdated laws do not require actual transmission or the intent to transmit HIV. Moreover, the laws ignore whether the person living with HIV is in treatment and virally suppressed and therefore cannot transmit HIV.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • Incarcerating people for HIV-related offenses has cost Tennessee at least $3.8 million.
  • Of the 154 people who have been placed on Tennessee’s SOR for an HIV-related conviction, 51% were convicted of aggravated prostitution, 46% were convicted of criminal exposure, and 3% were convicted of both.
  • Women account for 26% of people living with HIV in Tennessee and 4% of people on the SOR, but 46% of the SOR’s HIV registrants.
  • Black people account for 17% of people living in Tennessee, 56% of those living with HIV, 27% of people on the SOR, but 75% of the SOR’s HIV registrants.
  • Black women were the majority of aggravated prostitution registrants (57%), while Black men were the majority of criminal exposure registrants (64%).
  • People with an HIV-related offense are more economically vulnerable when compared to others on the state’s SOR.
    • One in five (19%) HIV registrants were homeless compared to 9% of all SOR registrants.
    • 28% of HIV registrants reported an employer address compared to about half (49%) of all SOR registrants.
  • Shelby County has one aggravated prostitution conviction for every 115 people living with HIV in the county, and Black people were 90% of all people convicted for aggravated prostitution.
    • Over 90% of aggravated prostitution convictions in Shelby County were the result of police sting operations.
    • Only 3% of aggravated prostitution convictions in Shelby County alleged any intimate contact.
    • Nearly all (95%) people arrested in Shelby County for criminal exposure were Black men, compared to 64% of people statewide.  

The Williams Institute has conducted research on HIV criminalization in numerous U.S. states.

Read the report

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Research/Study

New Pew Research Center poll: Americans at odds over Trans issues 

Strong majorities favor non-discrimination protections but weaker support for access to transition-related care among minors

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Texas trans activist Landon Richie speaking at Texas Capitol against trans youth sports bill (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

WASHINGTON – A new survey from a leading non-partisan research center reveals Americans have mixed views on transgender issues at a time when states are moving forward with measures against transgender youth, with strong majorities favoring non-discrimination protections but weaker support for access to transition-related care among minors and participation in school sports.

The Pew Research Center issued the findings on Tuesday as part of the results of its ongoing study to better understand Americans’ views about gender identity and people who are transgender or non-binary. The findings are based on a survey of 10,188 U.S. adults from data collected as part of a larger survey conducted May 16-22.

A majority of respondents by wide margins favor non-discrimination protections for transgender people. A full 64 percent back laws or policies that would protect transgender people from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public spaces, while roughly 8-in-10 acknowledge transgender people face at least some discrimination in our society.

Additionally, nearly one half of Americans say it’s extremely important to use a transgender person’s new name after they undergo a transition, while an additional 22 percent say that is somewhat important. A smaller percentage, 34 percent, say using a transgender person’s pronouns is extremely important, and 21 percent say it is somewhat important.

But other findings were less supportive:

  • 60 percent say a person’s gender is determined by sex assigned at birth, reflecting an increase from 56 percent in 2021 and 54 percent in 2017, compared to 38 percent who say gender can be different from sex assigned at birth.
  • 54 percent say society has either gone too far or been about right in terms of acceptance, underscoring an ambivalence around transgender issues even among those who see at least some discrimination against transgender people.
  • About six-in-ten adults, or 58 precent, favor proposals that would require transgender athletes to compete on teams that match the sex they were assigned at birth as opposed to teams consistent with their gender identity, compared to 17 percent who oppose that and 24 percent neither favor nor oppose it.
  • 46 percent favor making it illegal for health care professionals to provide transition-related care, such as hormones or gender reassignment surgery, to someone younger than 18, compared to 31 percent who oppose it.
  • Americans are more evenly split when it comes to making it illegal for public school districts to teach about gender identity in elementary schools (which is favored by 41 percent, and opposed by 38 percent) and investigating parents for child abuse if they help someone younger than 18 obtain transition-related care (37 percent are in favor and 36 percent oppose it).

Young adults took the lead in terms of supporting change and acceptance. Half of adults ages 18 to 29 say someone can be a man or a woman even if that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, compared to about four-in-10 of those ages 30 to 49 and about one-third of respondents 50 and older.

Predictably, stark differences could be found along party lines. Democrats by 59 precent say society hasn’t gone far enough in accepting people who are transgender, while 15 percent say it has gone too far and 24 percent say it’s been about right. For Republicans, 10 percent say society hasn’t gone far enough, while 66 percent say it’s gone too far and 22 percent say it’s been about right.

Read the full report here.

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