Year Zero
Year Zero with Wesley Yang
"Here's the bottom line...It is going to be very difficult for them to find loving, long term partners, because you have fucked up their bodies in ways that are going to complicate relationships."
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"Here's the bottom line...It is going to be very difficult for them to find loving, long term partners, because you have fucked up their bodies in ways that are going to complicate relationships."

Corinna Cohn had sex reassignment surgery at 19. He spent the spring and summer of 2023 urging state legislators to ban pediatric gender medicine. We talk about why.
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Corinna Cohn is a software developer living in Indiana who was among the very first teenagers to go on cross-sex hormones in adolescence, at the age of 15 in 1993. He was inducted into a cross-sex identity on the very first transsexual-interest Internet Relay Chat groups in the early 1990’s and underwent vaginoplasty at the age of 19. After decades of attempting to live as a woman, he reached an acknowledgment that he insists every other person who undertakes the same quixotic endeavor will eventually acknowledge to be true: “Their sex is what they were born as. Everybody knows if you're born male, you're always male. If you're born female, you're always female. There's no disputing that.”

Having made irrevocable choices with his body while too young to understand the lifelong consequences that would flow from it, Cohn continues to take estrogen to this day (tied as he is to the medical leash that all those who undergo transgender medical procedures invariably bind themselves), and prefers to be properly sexed, but will humor those who insist on using the cross-sex pronouns that correspond to the gender presentation that attends a lifetime of estrogen intake. He is an eloquent writer and speaker who has extracted all the wisdom there is to derive from the misadventure on the far end of human extremity on which he launched himself while still a callow, impetuous young man. He has watched with dismay as this misadventure has been normalized and marketed to children by the very authorities that should be protecting them from practices that will do them harm.

He has devoted himself to ensuring that no child repeats the mistake he made — one that no child, in his considered judgment, can possibly be competent to make, particularly in the context of a pediatric clinical system that has abandoned all gatekeeping on principle. He has devoted himself to holding at bay the totalitarian overwriting of reality that would have to be executed to make the world safe for such damaged children — a project to which the ruling powers of the Western world have explicitly pledged themselves. We spoke for two and a half hours in July.

—Wesley Yang

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Excerpts:

On the state of pediatric gender medicine under the affirmative care model

“If you'd asked me four years ago, should children be allowed to transition? I would have said, “well, I think that there are some young people, not children, obviously, but young people — maybe 16, maybe even 14, who are so clear that they are so unhappy in their sexed body and have so much dysphoria and have so much dissonance with their bodies, that this might be the best thing for them. I would have said that a few years ago.

I still believe that we might find that there are some diagnostic criteria that give us some confidence that somebody who's a 16 year old might have a better life experience starting this.

But I don't believe that there's a single practicing gender clinician, or gender therapist or gender affirming social worker — I don't believe that there's a single person who's practicing right now…Let me let me put it that way. There might be people here and there. There is nobody who's part of a functioning system anywhere in the United States, where a young person can be exposed to this in a way that centers the needs of that young person. There's not a functioning system anywhere.”

The Moral Obligation that the Affirmative Care Model Shirks

Wesley: Can we muster the authority to say, “No, this isn't good for you. And we're allowed to say that, and that's actually our duty.”

Corinna: It is our duty. That is our duty! We owe others. We have social responsibilities. We owe others. And for these young people, we owe them protection and we owe them the truth. They deserve it.”

What’s Really at Stake

It's so frustrating. It is so frustrating, because anybody who's an adult, ought to be able to understand how much agency a child's house. And they ought to be able to understand how much pressure — we used to understand this thing called “peer pressure.” We used to understand social pressure. We're just completely discounting that and going, “oh, they're autonomous, they have autonomy, they've got embodiment goals, they're tiny, little adults making these decisions, who are we to tell them what their identity should be?'“

Like, you sons of bitches let these kids get medicine, get have hormones, have surgery that fucks up their bodies in ways that is going to make it…Here's the bottom line. For a lot of these young people, it is going to be very difficult for them to find loving, long term partners, because you have fucked up their bodies in ways that are going to complicate relationships. A lot of them are going to be able to do it. A lot of them are not. Chances are, they’re going to be a lot worse than they would have been if you hadn't fucked with their bodies.

And there's no way that you can take all of the success stories — because there will be out of the out of 10,000 or 100,000 kids that you're doing this to, of course, there's going to be some success stories. But you're gonna grab them and say, nevermind that behind the curtain these kids who've killed themselves, whose lives are devastated, who are lonely, who are by themselves, who feel like they're outcasts. Nevermind all of them. Look at look at these brilliant people.”

On Giving Up on an Impossible Dream

Corinna: “There used to be a festival called the women, Michigan Women's Music Festival. And I'd been invited to go to that. And I did some research and saw that it was women only. And I was okay with that. I was like, “All right, I don't want to create a stir. This is their rules. I want to abide by their rules.”

But you know, now I need a pretext not to go. But when I was researching that, I learned that there were some feminists who really, really hated trans people. I think there are some who do.

I wanted to learn a little bit more about that point of view, because I was like, “there are so many things that we have in common as people who are marginalized by men. Like, why are we enemies?”

So I started researching that, and I had more conversations with feminists. And one of them challenged me and said, basically, she said, “Why do you believe that you are an exceptional member of class woman instead of an exceptional member of class, man?”

And I was like, “I don't have an answer. Like, how dare you? Let me think about that, though. And I did. I thought about that a lot. And I was like, I am a male.”

Wesley: “So a TERF made a rational argument and persuaded you…”

Corinna: “That's your language. I will never call her a turf. I have a ton of admiration for her.”

Wesley: Okay. A feminist who does not recognize the claims of transgenderism made a rational argument, stumped you, and persuaded you that “yeah, I’m a man.” Rational argument is not usually the way these things are settled.

Corinna: She invited me to make my irrational argument. And I was like, “I can't. This is fundamentally irrational. And I found myself in this cul-de-sac. And I was like, I have to turn around and leave here.”

On the Coming Surge of Detransition

Here's what the trans people don't realize, and they ought to. The signs of this are so clear that it's shocking to me that they don't understand. I've understood this for a long time. I had no idea who Chloe Cole was. But I knew that a Chloe Cole was coming. The young woman who filed this newest lawsuit, I don't remember her name, but I didn't know who she was. But I knew that she was coming. In every single state where there's a gender clinic, there's going to be another Chloe Cole. Every single state that there's a gender clinic, there's going to be another Chloe Cole. It's going to be a riot. And when you've got 50, or 150, or 350, or 500 litigants…trying all of these different theories to try to make these poor kids whole again…one of them is going to crack. And then it's going to be over. It is going to be completely over. That's inevitable. But just because it's inevitable doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to run ahead of that, and still prevent more victims in the future.

On the Inherently Totalitarian Character of the Demands Issuing from the Transgender Movement

When I participate in this, when I fight against it, do you see why say it's not a choice for me? I cannot imagine a world where I do not try to prevent what you're talking about from happening to all of us. It's not only about protecting the kids. Sure, that's a very important part of it. This sort of totalitarian, absolute disparagement of our rights and our liberties, that must happen — these infringements must happen for the genderists to win. They're never going to succeed, it's never going to happen, we can see this with all the boycotts that are starting to appear. But for them to get to the future that they want, this is on their critical path. These infringements must happen for them to get them to their success state. And we cannot allow that to happen.

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On Affirming Parents

Corinna:

For every parent who is transitioning their child, here's the future: your kid is going to get into their 20s and 30s. somewhere in this range. Even the ones who are failing to launch are going to figure out how to actually get their shit together at some point. Every one of these kids is going to start to ruminate. “How did this happen to me?” None of them are going to say, “Why did I do this to myself?” Because they didn't have agency. They didn't know. It doesn't matter if they said, “Oh, I really, really, really want to be a girl, mommy.” They don't know. They've got no idea. They're not even going to remember that. Right? They're not going to know that.”

“They're going to start thinking — “How did this happen to me?” And they're going to get to know kids. They're going to get to know children. Newborn babies. They're going to be involved with the lives of these children. They're going to watch them grow up and become thinking human beings. They're going to even watch them become adults. And they're going to know what innocence looks like. And they're going to start to remember that their innocence was absolutely destroyed.

And they're going to want to know why. And they will know at the time — I'm telling, I'm telling you now that the reason that this happens is largely because of the sexual interests of men like Rachel Levine, Admiral Levine, and other men who have continual fantasies that they wanted to be little girls”

So you have you have sent these children to satisfy the fantasies of these men. These children when they become adults are going to realize that this is why their innocence was destroyed: to make these fantasies come true. And the first people who will get the blame for this will be their parents. That is the future. That is the future.

Wesley: So I don't remember his name, bu he's like, “I'm 28 Look at me. I'm puberty blocked…”

Corinna. That was Seth.

Wesley: That was so powerful. And you're saying like, that's gonna happen to all these fucking parents?"

Corinna: Yes. It will not matter to these adult children…

Wesley: …that they begged and demanded and connived in order to get this is…

Corinna: I’m not even talking about that part. It won’t matter to these kids that their parents’ calculus was they want zero of one child to commit suicide. They don't care about one in 20,000. They want zero of one to commit suicide.

They won't care about their parents’ concerns. A lot of them aren't going to be able to have their own kids and so they're never going to even learn how to think like a parent. They're always going to think like a child. They're not going to appreciate what their parents were up against — being lied to by the government. Being lied to by their president being lied to by their doctors.

They're going to think “my parents ruined me.” For what? Why did my parents did my parents do this to me

So parents: that's what you have to look forward to.”

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Year Zero
Year Zero with Wesley Yang
An ongoing inquiry into the ideological fever that overtook the governing and chattering classes of America during the Trump years