The mainstream media celebrated him when he was nonbinary and transgender—but lost interest once he went back to being a man.
Jamie Shupe’s exclusive interview with The Daily Signal lit up the internet this week—and inspired a lot of feedback and questions from our audience.
The former transgender and nonbinary Army veteran joins the podcast with more insights about his journey—and why he thinks it hurts men and women to promote transgenderism.
Read the interview, posted below, or listen on the podcast.
We also cover these stories:
- Almost all House members voted for a resolution asking the Justice Department to release the report by special counsel Robert Mueller.
- The Supreme Court of Connecticut issued a ruling that could pave the way for lawsuits against the company that manufactured the gun used in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.
- There’s now more millionaires in the United States than there are people in Sweden or Portugal.
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Daniel Davis: We’re joined now over Skype by a man named Jamie Shupe. He’s the author of a recent Daily Signal op-ed that tells the story of his journey into transgenderism to nonbinary, and eventually back to male. Jamie, thanks so much for being on the podcast.
Jamie Shupe: Thank you for having me.
Davis: So Jamie, you came into public view back in 2015 when you wrote in The New York Times about your decision to be a transgender woman. Since then, you switched to nonbinary, you became the first American ever to receive nonbinary legal status. And then finally this year you reclaimed your birth sex of male. Before we get into questions, I just want to thank you for being so open and vulnerable to write the piece.
Shupe: Yeah, I have really did put myself out there. I mean, the worst possible thing in the world is to admit your mental illnesses, and to admit the sexual issues that I have.
Davis: Well, we do appreciate it. So our first question here is pretty basic. What inclined you toward transgenderism? What made you think that despite your body, deep down inside, that you were a woman?
Shupe: I’m guilty of conflating sex stereotypes with thinking that I was a female. I’ve always had this internal view of myself as being super feminine, which is highly distorted because the rest of the world has never seen that. That should’ve been a red flag. It’s one of the gender dysphoria traits that’s listed in the [“Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”].
But again, because there was so many failures in my therapy, nobody ever confronted me with that, nobody ever explained it. I thought things like wearing women’s clothing and having these psychological traits of being a female of made me a female, and it doesn’t.
Katrina Trinko: So you mention in your op-ed that you think you actually have a certain condition, that I’m not going to try to pronounce, but could you explain that condition to us, and why you think you actually had that?
Shupe: I’m assuming we’re talking about Dr. Ray Blanchard’s a diagnosis of autogynephilia.
Trinko: Yes, what you said.
Shupe: Yeah, we’re talking about autogynephilia. That was part of me going back to my birth sex. Because this is this thing that’s been in the back of my head for years now as a transgender woman, and even while I was nonbinary—and it was locked away in this trunk, and I was refusing to face it.
Well, I mean, here back in January of 2019, I went ahead and I broke out the articles from Blanchard. And I was just like, “Oh my God. This is true. This is who I am.”
What it means is, I’m sexually attracted to the idea of myself as a woman. Even when I have sex with men, all I picture is me being a woman in my head. And that’s the motivation for the sex. I’m not attracted to the man’s body whatsoever, like a gay male is, it’s just strictly a sexual paraphilia. And it’s the worst thing in the world to have to admit about yourself. But it’s completely true.
Davis: So Jamie, in your piece, you talked about some of the painful roots of this in your childhood. You talked about abuse and how that factored into your mindset. That’s also something we’ve seen among a lot of other people who become transgender. Tell us about that.
Shupe: The childhood sexual abuse really messed me up. So I grew up in Maryland suburbs, one of those white picket fence things. And football [involved an activity called] … smear the queer. And it was really painful to be getting sexually molested by my male uncle, and then going out with the neighborhood kids and playing smear the queer.
I just had this tremendous guilt about it. “Oh my God. Do they know I’m the queer?” And I felt damaged.
And at one point I even used it as a mental crutch to tell myself that I believed I was a female because of the sexual abuse. I would say, “OK, well, he targeted me because I was really a female.”
Which that isn’t true. He was a pedophile. He was attracted to little boys. Yeah.
Trinko: So there aren’t really words for how sad that is that that happened to you. And thank you for sharing that. I would just wonder, what would you say? I mean, horribly, this does happen at children. And how do you think we as a society … I mean, you’re not happy with where your path ended or went. How do we help kids who experienced this, and adults who experience this in a real way?
Shupe: Well, we have to start talking about it. And better yet, we even have to start protecting the young boys and males.
Shupe: One of the things I’ve done is I have a WordPress site. It’s called Bathroom Incidents. It’s absolutely mind-blowing the number of little boys that get molested in bathrooms, in public bathrooms. People always think automatically that it’s females. Like I said, if you read this WordPress site of mine, it’s like, oh my God, you would not believe the scale of the horror.
Yeah. It’s that bad.
Something too that happened to me that was very influential, so this is a pretty bad day going on the Veterans Administration. On the West Coast, they actually prescribed [me] … synthetic marijuana, and I was in the Medical Marijuana Program.
So then when the estrogen ejections put me in the psych ward on the East Coast, one of the conditions of letting me out of the psych ward was I had to go to a drug rehab. And so I went, it was down in Florida. Basically the days in the drug rehab were spent just unpacking our issues.
I was in a group with a whole bunch of men. And one day I started talking about my sexual abuse. And when I did, almost every single hand in the room went up, that they had been molested as children. That’s how bad this is.
Davis: Wow. Yeah. You mentioned the VA. I should mention also, you’re a veteran, spent 18 years in the army. So when you sought out help from the VA for this mental illness, you were going to … you wanted to transition to a woman. But did they know about your past abuse, and did you encounter any caution or resistance at all?
Shupe: No. Sadly the resistance was zero. It’s just like I wrote in the op-ed, they’ve been conditioned where if somebody shows up and says, “OK, I’m a female, I think I’m a female,” they automatically bless off on that. Even the psychological exams they gave me, which there was three very thorough ones that lasted for hours.
Basically, they spent a lot of time picking apart my childhood. They ignored most of my military traumas. And they didn’t even really talk about gender dysphoria, even though they would write things like “Patient meets criteria for gender dysphoria” in the final reports. I mean, it was a really sad situation.
Trinko: So when you started transitioning, what was it like for you? Did you start feeling mentally healthier? Did you feel better? What was that experience like?
Shupe: That was … I was promised that this would help me. Even the informed consent document in my VA medical records states that you will get better mental health from taking hormones.
It was just the opposite.
I steadily deteriorated. They had to keep me on psych drugs. Like I said, I was in the Medical Marijuana Program in Oregon. I stayed doped up all the time.
Yeah, I mean it, this did not help me at all. It destabilized my mental health, because I was living in a false reality. I was fighting my body. I was fighting society. I perfectly understand why this kills people and why there’s such high suicide rate.
Society gets the blame. It’s not society. It’s the program itself that’s killing us.
Trinko: Yeah. Could you actually expand on that a little bit? Because often the thing that we hear is that if you don’t allow people to transition, they will commit suicide. But it sounds like you’re arguing that the transition itself can make you suicidal.
Shupe: Yes, it does. Because that’s an interesting question. Let’s do the chicken and the egg thing. Does the gender dysphoria really come before? Or does it come [when] you’ve convinced somebody that you’re the opposite sex? My argument is that it comes afterward. That’s exactly what happened in my case.
I’ll give you an example. Once I diagnosed myself as being a female, and people affirmed me as a female, OK, so I’m looking at myself and I’m going, “Oh my God, I’m in a male body.” And you set out on this crash course to turn yourself into a female. And it’s impossible.
In the military we call that setting yourself up for failure. Like I said, it’s literally impossible to change your sex and you’ll die trying.
Davis: So on that, Jamie, you eventually decided to switch to nonbinary. How did that idea come about? And what’s the backstory there?
Shupe: By late 2015, I was really realizing that my sex change was a failure. I didn’t know how to get myself out of that mess. Here I was, I’d been in the New York Times telling everybody I was a transwoman—I was cheerleading the cause.
It had wrecked the relationship with my family. None of my family ever did accept this. And I don’t blame them in hindsight. Yeah, so I needed to … OK, so how the hell am I going to get myself out of out of being a female?
And then I started encountering people who identified as gender queer. And seeing the nonbinary on the internet. And I had a noble intention with this at first. Because you do have the suicide factor. And it certainly crossed my mind about, “OK, should I just go ahead and just commit suicide and get it over with?”
And I figured, OK, so maybe if I make this nonbinary thing legal, that it would give people a landing zone. Because I desperately needed one.
And another component of it was, OK, it’s totally not believable that anybody who is in a male body can actually be a female. I mean, that’s just hogwash. I don’t know why the doctors tell people that. The absolute best case scenario of this would be that you have a disorder of sexual development.
If gender identity was real, and I don’t believe it is, then I would have that as a female side. And then of course I would have my male biology. And those two things could theoretically make somebody intersex and give them a disorder of sexual development. And those are the kinds of mind games I was playing with myself. And that’s how this whole thing came about.
Trinko: You’d also mentioned in the op-ed that you felt you weren’t able to, for lack of a better term, pass as a woman during that stage. Do you think if you had been able to … I mean, it does seem sometimes with medical intervention at certain stages, that is possible. If you had socially been accepted as a woman, do you think you still would have switched to nonbinary?
Shupe: There’s actually something else we should talk about on that. This goes back to the VA again. Prior to making the decision to go to court, I asked the doctor, and it’s the same one who wrote to sex change letter to nonbinary. I asked to be genetically tested.
And I told myself, “OK, if this genetic testing comes back and says you’re a male, then I’m going to go ahead and go and get back to being male.” Well, the doctor refuses to do the testing. And she actually told me that the knowledge would harm me. So I mean, that was a tremendous failure in my care. So I went ahead with the court case.
But to answer your question, one of the things I’ve seen, or some of the things I’ve seen, I’ve met some incredibly pretty transsexuals, and they’re still miserable. Because they know they’re not females, females know they’re not females, and it’s a very hollow experience.
Davis: What kind of reception did you get when you became nonbinary? It was covered that you were the first person in America to get that legal status. Tell us about that.
Shupe: That was going from being an absolute nobody. I mean, sure I was in The New York Times. But I mean, outside of the trans community, people didn’t really know about that. But to go from being a nobody to being on the world stage like that, it was unbelievable.
And it actually made it very difficult for me to return to my birth sex because I spent my time thinking, “OK, what is there? Seven or eight billion humans on the planet. And how many of them ever get to do something that’s the first time ever to happen in the United States?” Yeah. I mean, so I had to destroy that.
Trinko: So eventually you decide to return to being a man again. And you write in the op-ed, “My sex change to nonbinary was a medical and scientific fraud.” Explain why you decided to switch back.
Shupe: I have struggled the entire time with, “Oh my God, I’m leading people’s children into this.” That bothered me more than anything.
Because part of creating the nonbinary thing too was to hopefully give people a space where they didn’t feel like they had the need to change their bodies. But yet the transgender activist folks were basically still wanting to medicalize nonbinary as well. So that turned out to be a failure on my expectations.
Davis: I’m curious, Jamie, if you’ve heard back from The New York Times or any of those other outlets that celebrated your initial coming out?
Shupe: No. It’s kind of shocking. Yeah, I’ve really gotten a lesson in how the media works. I mean, virtually the entire left has been silent, nobody wants to tell the truth about really what happened with my court victory.
Trinko: I’m assuming that you must have interacted a lot with members of the LGBT community during these years. And what is the message you would like them to hear from you?
Shupe: They need to stop what they’re doing. There isn’t going to be a gay or lesbian community with what the transgenderism is doing. Because they’re essentially making everybody straight.
Even worse than that, I mean, they are medicalizing sex stereotypes. This has become a world where if you believe you’re feminine that they turn you into a female. If you believe you’re masculine, they turn you into a male. And they fix your sexual orientation in the process. That’s a pretty horrible thing when you break it down like that.
Davis: You wrote in the piece that … and this is one of the more powerful lines, I thought, you said, “I should have been stopped. But out-of-control transgender activism had made the nurse practitioner too scared to say no.”
Now in that quote, you were talking about the one nurse who did have caution about your transition. And you said you talked about how you fired her after that. But that really pointed to something in the medical community, the culture in the medical community. What changes would you like to see within the medical profession?
Shupe: It’s deeper than the medical profession. Because what the LGBT advocates are doing is they’re passing all these very rigid conversion therapy laws. And they’re making it literally impossible for anybody to question the motivations about why people were doing these gender changes. So that has to start there as well. Yeah, I mean, basically the doctors and the clinicians, their hands are tied because they literally get fired for asking the right questions.
Trinko: So you’ve been incredibly open about your challenges with mental health, and how they played a role in this. How do you think the medical community should handle gender dysphoria when a patient comes forward with it? What do you wish someone had said to you at the time? I don’t want to ask you to reveal something too private, but is there a treatment now that you’re doing that’s working for you?
Shupe: I think the medical community needs to stop lying to people. These are essentially quick theories that have come out of some basement of academia. I mean, it’s unfathomable that a doctor can go to medical school and learn about the body, and learn all this. Spend years, and years, and years getting this education.
And then have the nerve to sit down in front of somebody and believe that they could be born in the wrong body. There’s something really horrible wrong with that. I don’t have words for it.
Davis: Well, what advice would you have for someone who thinks they might be transgender? Or to someone who has a friend or a loved one who thinks they’re transgender?
Shupe: Transgender is an adjective. It’s not a noun. It doesn’t really exist. This whole gender identity thing is a fraud. It’s legal fiction. And people have to start realizing that.
It might be a big fad right now, but people are making changes to their bodies that you can’t walk back. I am so incredibly lucky that I did this at a late age. I didn’t lose my job because of it. I don’t know how, but I didn’t lose my marriage because of it. I have a child, which I’m very thankful for.
People are just destroying their lives, believing that these gender transitions are real. And then they end up having some pretty ugly senior years when it all falls apart.
Trinko: So, as you probably know, your article for The Daily Signal went viral. And there’s been a lot of comments online and in social media. And some of the more mean ones have said you switched to female, you switched to nonbinary, now you’re switching to male, clearly you’re going to switch again in a few years. What’s your response to that?
Shupe: Part of my education of learning about myself, it affected me pretty profoundly when that doctor, the psychiatrist at the VA said, “I think you have borderline personality disorder.”
So I went home and opened up Google, and punched that in. And sure enough, one of the traits of borderline personality disorder is you have a constantly shifting sense of identity. So that’s taught me a lot. And I think that’s going to help me never make this mistake again.
Davis: Well, Jamie, it obviously, it takes a lot more than we can fathom for you to write the piece and come on the podcast. Thank you so much for speaking out and for taking time.
Trinko: We really appreciate your courage.
Shupe: Yes. I cannot say enough about how much I’m grateful to The Heritage Foundation and The Daily Signal for this. So thank all of you as well.