For the record

A little note on something that happened on Twitter. Yesterday I created a gender-swap image of myself with FaceApp. I liked it — it give me a different perspective on myself — and I posted it on Twitter. Some people liked it and no one complained. Later, one person (not themselves trans, I believe) wrote to say that they felt such images were disrespectful to trans women. They were polite and didn’t ask me to remove the image. However, I became concerned that some trans women might think I was mocking them, and I decided to delete the image, just in case. I didn’t do it because I felt bullied or because I was worried the image would harm me professionally, and I wouldn’t delete a post I felt strongly about. (If you scroll back through my Twitter feed, you’ll see that I have posted and robustly defended plenty of controversial opinions, especially about the nature of consciousness.)

Soon a host of people began attacking me for (as they saw it) caving in to the trans lobby. “BEND THE KNEE”, one well-known gender-critical tweep wrote. Others accused me of monetary motives for my action and suggested that my behaviour undermined my credentials as a philosopher. Some suggested that I wouldn’t have cared about mocking cis women and that I was supporting the patriarchy. One — bizarrely — called me a cuckold.

Well, that’s what happened. I’m going to take a break from Twitter for a while.

Posted in Tricks of the mind.


  1. I enjoy your tweets and the conversations they generate. Sorry to hear that you took heat for innocent actions.

    I saw a tweet yesterday, highlighted by Hugh Howey, advocating that happiness on Twitter involves blocking nasty people, not arguing or defending against them, just blocking them. If you can’t recall ever having cogent conversation with someone making those kinds of accusations, you’ll probably be happier without them in your Twitter timeline. Just something to consider.

    All the best,

  2. I’m sorry you’ve been subject to unwarranted abuse, and wish you a peaceful break. Selfishly, I hope you return in due course because I have much enjoyed your feed, and learned from you. All the best.

  3. I am just going outside and may be some time? Don’t you dare! In a world filled with ‘passionate intensity’, your voice needs to be heard so the motto should be KBO (I won’t spell that out lest it be misconstrued by the flag-waving nincompoops). Besides which, there are far too few fans of Sir Thomas Browne on Twitter.

  4. You are one of the hubs of philosophy twitter. Maybe try something else over summer break. Youtube beckons. Or set up a company doing philosophy study weekends. Take this as an opportunity. Cheers.

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