Debra W. Soh

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Debra W. Soh
EducationRyerson University (BSc)
York University (MSc, PhD)
Known for
Scientific career
ThesisFunctional and Structural Neuroimaging of Paraphilic Hypersexuality in Men
Doctoral advisorKeith Schneider[1]

Debra W. Soh is a Canadian science columnist, author, political commentator, and former academic sex researcher.[2]

Education and research[edit]

Soh holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in sexual neuroscience from York University in Toronto.[3] Her dissertation was titled Functional and Structural Neuroimaging of Paraphilic Hypersexuality in Men, and her committee included Keith Schneider of York University and James Cantor of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.[4] During her graduate studies, Soh received the Michael Smith Foreign Research Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and York's Provost Dissertation Scholarship.[5]

While at York, she studied paraphilias, which are abnormal sexual preferences. Her research indicates that these are neurological conditions rather than learned behaviours.[6] A 2016 Cosmopolitan article highlighted some of Soh's findings and their implications for determining which men are likely to commit rape.[7]


Soh has written articles for Quillette, The Globe and Mail, New York magazine, Playboy, Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal.[5] She began hosting Quillette's Wrongspeak podcast with Jonathan Kay in May 2018.[2] In the spring of 2021, Soh started "The Dr. Debra Soh" podcast.[8] Soh describes herself as a former feminist who later became disillusioned with the term.[9]

In a 2015 editorial, Soh criticized the prevalence of childhood gender transitions, advising parents and doctors to wait "until a child has reached cognitive maturity."[10] Soh's essay, which referenced gender non-conforming aspects of her own childhood, argued that "a social transition back to one's original gender role can be an emotionally difficult experience." David A. French characterized this as "an understatement."[11] Soh has also written against anti-conversion therapy laws that include both sexual orientation and gender identity, believing that such laws conflate the two and prevent legitimate therapeutic counselling for individuals with gender dysphoria.[12] She believes that the current societal view to allow for gender transition in childhood is mostly based on homophobia due to studies which show that many transgender children will desist and detransition in adolescence and early adulthood and come out as gay or lesbian.[13] Fellow Canadian academics Florence Ashley and Alexandre Baril disputed Soh's interpretation of these studies.[14]

Soh opposed the 2015 decision to close Toronto's gender identity clinic, which was known for beginning treatment after or during puberty in most cases.[15][16] A previous inquiry had put the clinic's chief physician, Kenneth Zucker, at odds with other gender dysphoria specialists who encourage social transitions at ages as young as three.[17] Critics of Soh on this matter have stated that hormones are prescribed after puberty according to the Endocrine Society guidelines.[18] The following year, Soh wrote an editorial which criticized CBC News for cancelling its airing of a British documentary that featured Zucker.[19]

In 2016, Soh spent a weekend documenting the furry fandom in order to dispel myths about the subculture being primarily sexual in nature.[20]

In August 2017, Soh wrote a column for The Globe and Mail and contributed to an article at Quillette defending engineer James Damore's memo "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber."[21][22] She continued to give interviews on the topic over the following year.[23] Soh was described as a member of the "intellectual dark web" by New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss.[24]

Soh left Wrongspeak at the end of 2018.

In April 2019, Soh supported a lawsuit by Nova Scotia resident Lorne Grabher against the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. The suit was filed to reinstate a license plate bearing Grabher's last name whose similarity to the phrase "grab her" had made it the subject of a complaint. Soh testified that the plate would not encourage any socially adjusted person to commit a violent act and opined that the government was "overreaching."[25][26]

On 4 August 2020, Soh published her first book, The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society.[27]

In the spring of 2021, Soh started her own podcast, "The Dr. Debra Soh Podcast".

Personal life[edit]

Soh is of Malaysian-Chinese descent.[28]


  1. ^ "Keith A. Schneider CV" (PDF). Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b Herzog, Katie (31 May 2018). "Wrongspeak Is a Safe Space for Dangerous Ideas". The Stranger. Seattle, Wa.
  3. ^ Soh, Debra (2020). The end of gender: debunking the myths about sex and identity in our society (First ed.). New York: Threshold Editions. ISBN 978-1-9821-3251-4. OCLC 1154855706.
  4. ^ "Past Oral Defences". Graduate Program in Psychology, York University. Archived from the original on 1 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b Aaron, Michael (25 September 2017). "Sex Researcher Turned Journalist Challenges Sexual Dogmas: Sexologist Debra Soh's work challenges sexual dogmas and political correctness". Psychology Today.
  6. ^ Rense, Sarah (26 January 2017). "Why It's So Hard to Figure Out How Our Brains Process Sex: From excessive masturbation to gender equality". Esquire. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  7. ^ Smothers, Hannah (31 March 2016). "5 Warning Signs He'll Be Dangerous in Bed: This is a good case against dating 'bad boys.'". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  8. ^ "'The Dr. Debra Soh Podcast'".
  9. ^ Thobo-Carlsen, Jesper (8 March 2017). "Derfor har Debra Soh vendt feminismen ryggen". Politiken (in Danish). Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  10. ^ Soh, Debra (1 September 2015). "Why Transgender Kids Should Wait to Transition". Pacific Standard.
  11. ^ French, David (2 September 2015). "Not every sex researcher thinks young kids should 'transition'". National Review. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  12. ^ Soh, Debra (17 June 2017). "Why bans on conversion therapy are misguided". Newsday.
  13. ^ Soh, Debra (23 October 2018). "The Unspoken Homophobia Propelling the Transgender Movement in Children". Quillette.
  14. ^ Ashley, Florence; Baril, Alexandre (23 March 2018). "Why 'rapid onset gender dysphoria' is bad science". The National Post. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  15. ^ Levenson, Claire (15 October 2018). "Transition des jeunes trans*, quand science et militants divergent". Slate. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  16. ^ Heyer, Walt (6 January 2016). "Politicians' response to transgenders is likely to increase suicides". The Federalist. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  17. ^ Reynolds, Christopher (14 February 2016). "Closing of CAMH clinic fans controversy over gender-questioning children". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  18. ^ Turban, Jack (16 February 2017). "No, it isn't 'undermining science' to say gender identity is influenced by culture". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  19. ^ Soh, Debra (18 December 2017). "CBC's decision against airing Transgender Kids doc should leave everyone unsettled". CBC News. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  20. ^ Connor, Kevin (19 March 2016). "No sex in suits and other facts about Furries". The Toronto Sun. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  21. ^ Soh, Debra (8 August 2017). "No, the Google manifesto isn't sexist or anti-diversity. It's science". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 24 October 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  22. ^ Jussim, Lee; Schmitt, David P.; Miller, Geoffrey; Soh, Debra W. (29 July 2018). "The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond". Quillette. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  23. ^ Marcus, David (26 October 2018). "YouTube bans 'dangerous' ad for video critiquing transgenderism". The Federalist. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  24. ^ Weiss, Bari (8 May 2018). "Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 May 2018.
  25. ^ "'Grabher' license plate not dangerous, former sex researcher tells N.S. court". The Canadian Press. 24 April 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  26. ^ MacDonald, Michael (24 April 2019). "Personalized 'Grabher' licence plate won't incite sexual violence, former researcher tells Nova Scotia Supreme Court". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  27. ^ Soh, Debra (August 2020). The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society. Threshold Editions. p. 336. ISBN 978-1982132514.
  28. ^ Soh, Debra (22 February 2021). "Attacks on Asian-Americans reveal a strange racial double standard". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. Retrieved 23 July 2021.

External links[edit]