No, lesbians aren’t “going extinct”

The latest gender critical panic is not attached to reality.

Katelyn Burns
4 min readDec 28, 2020


Screen cap from The Spectator taken on 12/28/2020

On Monday morning, noted Substack blogger Andrew Sullivan claimed in British right wing publication The Spectator that lesbians are “going extinct,” bemoaning the alleged loss of lesbians he thinks should take care of him when he gets old or becomes infirm or sick.

It’s a frequent hobbyhorse for The Spectator, which seems to publish this exact argument on a once-quarterly basis. Most recently Andrew Sullivan wannabe Chadwick Moore claimed in the publication that actor Elliot Page’s coming out as trans was a loss for American lesbians in early December. Moore wrote essentially the same piece earlier this year in January.

Interesting, isn’t it, how so many of these articles come from cis gay men? Patriarchy-but-gay is still patriarchy. Being gay doesn’t exempt men from paternalism. Moore and Sullivan have no business telling trans people what we can and should do with our bodies or identities, but they feel entitled to do so anyway.

Sullivan himself hosted noted transphobe Katie Herzog on his Substack in a special Thanksgiving edition of his blog throwing out the very same idea. I wonder if this is what Sullivan spends his holidays thinking about? Maybe tryptophan triggers his transphobia brain.

The disappearing lesbian claim, so it goes, is that more and more butch lesbians are coming out trans men and transitioning, thereby “erasing lesbians.” It’s a laughable claim, akin to a gender-induced QAnon-level conspiracy theory.

There have always been and will always be more lesbians than trans people. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, 4.5 percent of all Americans are lesbian, gay, or bisexual, while just 0.6 percent are transgender.

Sullivan bemoans the loss of lesbian bars, but that has nothing to do with trans people. In reality, as lesbian and gay people have been assimilated into cultural acceptance, as Sullivan himself desperately campaigned for for years, it’s become easier and easier for cis lesbian and gay folks to exist in predominantly straight spaces. But with trans acceptance lagging far behind, and even regressing in recent years, thanks in part to the likes of Sullivan and his ilk, it’s pretty…



Katelyn Burns

Political journalist. The first openly trans Capitol Hill reporter in US history. Writing about more than just trans issues. Follow her on Twitter @transscribe