Defending Sex in Missouri
It is crucial that our laws reflect biological facts rather than politically driven ideologies.
The biology of sex has been under siege by activists in recent years. These scientific distortions, which gradually moved from activist Tumblr blogs to “scholarly” humanities journals, have now infiltrated biology journals, medicine, and law. The consequences have been catastrophic, as one might expect when fundamental aspects of our biology are disregarded and inverted. The rights of women and girls to single-sex spaces and fair sports competition, along with children’s rights to bodily health and integrity, have all been sacrificed on the altar of a person’s self-declared “gender identity.”
The rapid pace of these changes initially caught everyone off guard, leaving us shocked at how such a reality-denying ideology could have possibly gained traction and proliferated out of control. In recent years, however, we have been mounting a counteroffensive. Many states have implemented bans on males entering female spaces and participating in women’s sports, and legislation limiting so-called “gender-affirming care” to adults has been introduced. I have had the privilege of defending the biology of sex as an expert witness in several court cases in Montana, Texas, and even internationally in Australia. This work is crucial in countering the chaos wrought by gender ideology on our societies.
While the resistance to erasing legal distinctions of sex is vital, the language used in these laws is often clumsy and somewhat inaccurate in describing the universal differences between males and females. This lack of precision makes these laws vulnerable to criticism from gender activists who aim to portray the entire effort of defining sex as futile. What is desperately needed is model legislation founded on robust biological principles, which can be adopted nationwide and serve as a defense against gender ideology.
Fortunately, the Heritage Foundation has addressed this need with their Defining SEX Act, described as “a bill to establish a clear and consistent biological definition of male and female.” This year, numerous states are gearing up to introduce this legislation. One state—Missouri—has already done so, and I was invited to testify, both in writing and in person, in its defense on January 17. I planned to drive over six hours from Nashville, TN, to Jefferson City, MO, to defend basic biology.
Unfortunately, a severe snowstorm and deep freeze hit middle Tennessee, where I live. Travel warnings advised against leaving home, as roads were dangerously unsalted. I was extremely frustrated by my inability to attend the courtroom in person, but I still managed to submit a written defense of biology and the Defining SEX Act, which I’ve included below.
Let 2024 be the year we’re all finally on offense. It’s time to reclaim the territory that politically-motivated ideologues have taken over the past decade, and anchor our laws firmly in the bedrock of reality.
If there are any state legislators who need an expert witness to defend the biology of sex in court, please don’t hesitate to reach out using this CONTACT FORM.
TESTIMONY: MISSOURI HB 2309 | Dr. Colin Wright
I earned my Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity from the University of California, Davis, in 2012. I later obtained my PhD in Evolution, Ecology, and Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2018. Following this, I served as an Eberly Research Postdoctoral Fellow at The Pennsylvania State University.
As an evolutionary behavioral ecologist, I’ve undergone comprehensive training in the core principles that dictate behavior across the animal kingdom. Among these principles, the most prominent and consistent is related to an individual’s sex, namely, whether they are male or female. My depth of knowledge in evolutionary biology and biodiversity provides me with a profound and broad understanding of the universal defining features of males and females throughout the plant and animal kingdoms.
Contrary to claims by some activists and medical professionals who promote so-called “gender-affirming care” that the categories male and female are “social constructs” or that the term “sex” refers only to characteristics of individuals and not individuals themselves, all of which exist along a “spectrum,” such views are biologically inaccurate, socially harmful, and logically self-refuting.
The Defining SEX Act is rooted in sound biology. It correctly highlights the fact that males and females are distinguished based on the type of gamete they are capable of or expected to produce, as dictated by their primary sexual anatomy. Males are defined in biology as the sex that has the function of producing numerous small gametes, or sperm. Conversely, females are defined as the sex that has the function of producing fewer but larger gametes, or ova. Because there are only two types of gamete (sperm and ova), there are and can be only two sexes. These criteria for defining male and female are not exclusive to humans; they apply universally across all forms of life on Earth.
The Defining SEX Act is an essential piece of legislation that addresses the unique vulnerabilities of women and girls stemming from their reproductive biology. These vulnerabilities, including pregnancy and maternal responsibilities such as breastfeeding, warrant special considerations in employment. Additionally, human males and females display notable differences in size and strength, a phenomenon known as sexual dimorphism. During puberty, the increase in testosterone in males leads to greater height and the development of larger muscles and tendons compared to females. This results in a male body that is generally bigger, faster, and stronger than if it had not undergone male puberty (which females do not). These significant physical differences form the rationale for establishing female-only spaces where physical safety is a concern. This includes intimate areas like bathrooms, locker rooms, as well as jails and prisons, as well as in contexts such as sports, where safety and fairness are both important considerations.
Without a scientifically accurate definition of biological sex codified into law, it is impossible to enforce the sex-based rights of women and girls that have been previously secured through intense and morally correct human rights activism.
It is neither logical nor legally sound to overlook the objective reality of biological sex in favor of subjective concepts like “gender identity,” which are vaguely and often circularly defined. While individuals should have the freedom to perceive and express themselves as they wish, imposing one’s self-perception into law, particularly when it contradicts empirical reality and undermines legal protections based on biology for women and girls, is not justifiable.
The self-refuting nature of portraying sex as applying only to characteristics of bodies and not bodies themselves lies in the fact that we are only able to code various traits like sex chromosomes, genitals, hormones, and other body parts as male- or female-typical by recognizing that males and females exist as distinct entities independent of these individual traits. For instance, scientists could only associate an XY karyotype with males and an XX karyotype with females because they already had an understanding of what males and females were beforehand. Similarly, we are capable of associating facial hair with males and breasts with females because we understand that males and females exist independently of these secondary sex characteristics. This coding of individual traits as male or female is possible precisely because the state of being male or female is independent of these traits and is defined by the type of gamete (sperm or ova) an individual can produce or is expected to produce.
This naive and politically-motivated attempt to undermine the binary nature of sex as applying to entire bodies is also resulting in serious medical harm. The rationale behind “gender-affirming care” is based on the erroneous belief that modifying various body parts through hormones and surgeries can literally bring a person’s bodily sex statistically into alignment with their “gender identity,” which is increasingly being portrayed as a person’s “brain sex” (another biologically flawed concept). However, the premise becomes unsound when sex is viewed correctly as applying to individuals independent of their secondary sex characteristics (e.g., breast size, facial hair, voice pitch, and overall body shape). In this scientifically accurate view, there is no such thing as a mismatch between different aspects of a person’s sex, rendering any attempt to change a person’s sex by hormonally and/or surgically altering their secondary sex characteristics utterly futile.
We cannot ignore fundamental realities of our biology and expect positive outcomes for society. It is crucial that our laws reflect biological facts rather than politically driven ideologies. Sex-based legal protections are necessary due to real and significant sex based differences that matter in certain contexts. The Defining SEX Act accurately incorporates our scientific understanding of biological sex, making it an effective tool for informing medical treatments and defending and enforcing sex-based rights.
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for your continued support and to share a gentle reminder of the unique role we play together. As you know, I am deeply committed to educating the public about the biology of sex, and defending basic biology in court. The latter is especially important for ensuring that our laws reflect facts instead of ideology.
Your support has been the cornerstone of my ability to dedicate myself fully to this cause. If you believe in the work I am doing and wish to see it continue, I kindly ask for your support. Whether it be through a paid subscription or a one-time or recurring donation, every contribution makes a big difference. Thank you for being the pillars of this important mission.