Shanna Peeples
2 min readMar 29, 2023

Thank you for your thoughtful response, Ann. Like you, I'm increasingly horrified by the speed and precision of these coordinated attacks on trans folks. I agree with you about the efficacy of political action, but I think it's incumbent upon all of us in the queer community and our allies to use whatever peaceful means we have along with our social capital to resist.

I don't have tenure, but I felt that this was a dangerous precedent and worth the risk of speaking out. I've always wondered how much of the fear of speaking out is really more of a fear of being disliked by certain people.

In the Asch conformity experiments, a single person who gave the correct answer was enough to reduce conformity to 5%. This suggests that even a small number of people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in can have a significant impact on the conformity of others.

However, those experiments were conducted in a lab with a group of strangers. The results would be different in a different context, such as a workplace or a school.

Ultimately, the number of people it takes to undo the conformity effect, other researchers have found, depends on the strength of the conformity pressure, the size of the majority group, and the courage of the dissenting individuals.

At some point, we have to take stock of who we say we are and what we say we value and weight it towards living out those values in actions. I'm not suggesting that people put themselves in danger, but I am suggesting that it may be time to start testing where and when and with whom you can at least disagree with the hate.

Shanna Peeples

Ed. Professor | Harvard Ed.L.D. | 2015 National Teacher of the Year