letters to the editor

Response to “I Watched Ben Shapiro Debates For A Week” Part 2


This is a part two response to Erik Jonasson II’s article “I Watched Ben Shapiro Debates for a Week”. In this letter to the editor, I aim to focus more on Erik’s dialogue with Shapiro regarding transgenderism, mental health, and biology.

Erik critiques Ben Shapiro’s belief that “biology trumps gender identity.” But what does the American Psychological Association say? The DSM-IV lists some criteria for someone to be diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (DSM-V discontinued this term and instead refers to it as Gender Dysphoria). These criteria are:

  • Strong and persistent cross-gender identification;
  • Persistent discomfort about one’s assigned sex or a sense of inappropriateness in the gender-role of that sex;
  • The individual does not have a concurrent physical intersex condition;
  • Clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

DSM-V says that “Gender dysphoria refers to the distress that may accompany the incongruence between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one’s assigned gender.”

Ben Shapiro, in one video, says that “the idea that sex or gender are malleable is not true. And I’m not denying your humanity if you’re a transgender person; I am saying that you are not the sex to which you claim to be. You’re still a human being, and you’re a human being with an issue that I wish you Godspeed in dealing with in whatever way you see fit. But if you are going to dictate to me that I’m supposed to pretend – I’m supposed to pretend – that men are women and women are men, no. My answer is no. I’m not going to modify basic biology because it threatens your subjective sense of what you are.”

DSM-V says, “current evidence is insufficient to label gender dysphoria without a disorder of sex development as a form of intersexuality limited to the central nervous system.” This implies that there is lack of evidence to suggest that gender dysphoria is biologically caused unless it’s accompanied by an ambiguity of a physical nature (i.e. intersex condition).

In another Shapiro video, Shapiro mentions a Cohort study conducted in Sweden that showed that suicidality is higher over a long-term period after sex-reassignment surgery than for those identifying with their natal gender. The study concludes that “Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.”

This goes to show that Shapiro’s take on the transgender issue could perhaps be more accurate than what one may care to admit. If Ben Shapiro allegedly “refuses to accept that he doesn’t hold all of the answers,” then I would love to see Ben Shapiro come to NDSU and watch people try to set him straight, and watch it backfire. He lets people who disagree with him speak first during Q&A sessions. But refusing to be open to being swayed by a particular party altogether seems kind of a red flag to me.

Mark Simonson

Graduate Student

Agribusiness & Applied Economics

(701) 367-3574

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