Weekly Recap: April 3, 2021
CNN, Arkansas, Rugby and more...
Starting now, I will be posting a “Weekly Recap” newsletter that highlights all the most relevant news items relating predominantly to the movement to abolish the notion of biological sex and replace it with “gender identity.” It will include sections dedicated to my favorite articles and videos I read and watched during the week, and will conclude with a whisk(e)y review!
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If there are other sections you would like me to add to future Weekly Recaps, please let me know in the comments below. And, as always, your constructive feedback is always welcome and appreciated. Thank you!
In Case You Missed It
This week I published my review of the third chapter of The Spectrum of Sex: The Biology of Male, Female, and Intersex. This chapter was titled “Two in One,” and it set out to describe hermaphroditism in humans. However, the authors made the egregious error of conflating instances where a human may have both ovarian and testicular gonadal tissues resulting from an anomalous developmental condition with non-human species that have evolved hermaphroditism as a stable mating strategy.
The chapter also concluded with an 8-page breathless rant about colonialism, cultural appropriation, racism, gender identity as understood by many Native American cultures, and a long list of phobias that had absolutely nothing to do with biology. It was one of the most bizarre book chapters I have ever read.
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Child transition bans, the ACLU, and CNN
There was a lot of notable news in the realm of sex denialism this week. One story has to do with several states passing laws that limit or ban the medical or surgical transitioning of minors due to the permanency of such interventions and the lack of research demonstrating both their safety and efficacy.
This week it was the state of Arkansas that passed one such bill.
Of course, the ACLU wasted no time in misrepresenting the bill as “ban[ning] health care for trans youth.”
In response to the Arkansas and other state bills, CNN published perhaps the clearest example of overt sex denialism I have yet to see in a major news outlet. In fact, it is the first time I have seen such a statement reported in a straight-up news piece rather than in an opinion section. CNN’s Lauren Holt writes (emphasis mine):
Much of the legislation that is pending or has been adopted restricts athletes' participation in public school sports to the gender that matches the sex that athletes were assigned at birth. But it's not possible to know a person's gender identity at birth, and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth.
Firstly, it should be painfully obvious that doctors are not, and have never claimed to be, prescribing "gender identities" to infants. Doctors are simply observing and recording an infant's biological sex. For more on this topic, see my previous post.
Furthermore, the “consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth” is observing genitalia. Every doctor knows this. This method is practiced universally and sex determination using this method is only unclear about 0.018% of the time. This is approximately the same likelihood that a coin will land on its edge when flipped.
Two days later, responding to an editorial in National Review criticizing South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s decision to veto a bill aimed at protecting female sports in the state, CNN’s Devan Cole writes (emphasis mine):
Though the two executive orders signed by Noem do not explicitly mention transgender athletes, they reference the supposed harms of the participation of "males" in women's athletics -- an echo of the transphobic claim, cited in other similar legislative initiatives, that transgender women are not women. The orders also reference "biological sex," a disputed term that refers to the sex as listed on students' original birth certificates.
It's not possible to know a person's gender identity at birth, and for some people, the sex listed on their original birth certificate is a misleading way of describing the body they have.
As a biologist I can confidently tell you that “biological sex” is not a disputed term. In fact, it is a fundamental property describing how many species including plants, insects, reptiles, mammals, and yes—humans—reproduce. There is no confusion about what a male and female is, and every practicing biologist who works with animals knows this, even if some pretend not to when publicly asked.
A new policy for trans women in British rugby has been the center of controversy, as it attempts to perform a difficult balancing act between inclusiveness and safety. This new policy would assess both the height and weight of a trans woman to determine whether or not they pose a safety risk to female athletes. According to The Guardian:
Trans women who weigh more than 90kg (14st 2lb) – or are more than 170cm (5ft 7in) tall – could face an assessment by a coach to see whether they pose a safety risk to other players before being allowed to play women’s rugby in England…
This is an unfortunate policy, as it completely ignores issues of fairness at the individual level for a misguided comparison between groups. As I’ve stated before, trans women have an unfair advantage over female athletes not necessarily because of average differences between groups, but because at the individual level a trans woman has an advantage that is not available to female athletes—the irreversible performance-enhancing effects of male puberty.
Sports scientist and podcaster Ross Tucker wrote a very good Twitter thread on the new rugby policy, so I will let him take it from here.
Trans Day of Visibility
This week I became aware of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) from one of their tweets celebrating the “Trans Day of Visibility.” This tweet was accompanied by an image outlining the mainstream depiction of gender ideology.
Of course, this figure states your sex is something that was “assigned” to you at birth, a mere “label” the medical community attaches to you. Your “gender attribution,” it says, is defined as how your gender is perceived by others, and consists of various ways you’re dressed, how you style your hair, and apparently even whether you are in a wheelchair or have both legs. Gender expression is defined as “how you want to display your gender,” and is depicted as a person with differently colored squares emanating from a person’s head. And at the center of all these if your gender identity, or how you “see yourself.”
This is all just a very roundabout way to say that we are all unique individuals shaped by a combination of internal and external factors. There’s no real reason to put all this under the umbrella of “gender.” And remember, this confusing view of gender is taught in schools and is the basis for administering irreversible life-changing hormones and surgeries to children.
A recent report from Britain’s National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has concluded that the evidence for using puberty blockers to treat gender dysphoria is “very low,” and that current studies are underpowered and “subject to bias and confounding.”
Parents Defending Education
To end the news section on a positive note, a new organization called Parents Defending Education has just popped up. It looks very promising, and the current leadership is excellent with Nicole Neily (President), Asra Nomani (VP for Strategy and Investigations), and Erika Sanzi (Director of Outreach) running the show. It also appears that Christopher Rufo, who as been a leading proponent in removing Critical Race Theory from government, is involved in the project.
Parents Defending Education @DefendingEdTHREAD: We are delighted to announce the public launch today of Parents Defending Education, a national, nonpartisan group that will build a grassroots army of parents to begin reclaiming our K-12 schools from political activists and extremists. 1/
Parents Defending Education is a national grassroots organization working to reclaim our schools from activists imposing harmful agendas. Through network and coalition building, investigative reporting, litigation, and engagement on local, state, and national policies, we are fighting indoctrination in the classroom — and promoting the restoration of a healthy, non-political education for our kids.
Organizations like this, Counterweight, and the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) are all relatively new and on the front line combating ideologies like Critical Race Theory, gender ideology, and any other Critical Social Justice ideology in our public schools and government. They truly need your support.
Quillette: When Sons Become Daughters: Parents of Transitioning Boys Speak Out on Their Own Suffering
The first article I want to recommend is the first installment of a 4-part series published in Quillette by Angus Fox (a pseudonym) that “explores how parents react when a son announces he wants to be a girl—and explains why so many of these mothers and fathers believe they can’t discuss their fears and concerns with their own children, therapists, doctors, friends, and relatives.” This is a wonderful opener to a very important series of interviews.
From the essay:
These are not people who pray each night to rescue the souls of unbelievers, or long for a return to the subjugated housewifery of the 1950s. It’s simply that they don’t believe that their sons’ lives will be improved by hormones or surgery.
As the Managing Editor at Quillette, I’ve had the opportunity to read these on the back end, and can assure you that you’ll not want to miss them.
Tablet: The Disintegration of the ACLU
The next article is by James Kirchick in Tablet that discusses the descent of the ACLU from a non-partisan defender of free speech, to a partisan Left-wing outlet baked in Critical Social Justice ideology.
From the essay:
The embrace of political partisanship, the dropping of standards, the buckling to donor demands at the expense of long-held principles—Glasser says all of these developments have rendered the ACLU unrecognizable from the group he once led. The roots of the ACLU’s evolution from principled, nonpartisan defender of civil liberties into just another cog in the progressive machine are cultural as much as generational. You might say it’s the difference between devotion to the First Amendment and devotion to oil depletion allowances.
The Atlantic: Words Have Lost Their Common Meaning
The last recommended article is by Columbia University linguistics professor John McWhorter in The Atlantic. It discusses how language has been distorted and has resulted in mass confusion and even an inability to speak about certain issues without talking past one another.
From the essay:
However, this usage of the term social justice is typically based on a very particular set of commitments especially influential in this moment: that all white people must view society as founded upon racist discrimination, such that all white people are complicit in white supremacy, requiring the forcing through of equity in suspension of usual standards of qualification or sometimes even logic (math is racist). A view of justice this peculiar, specific, and even revolutionary is an implausible substitute for millennia of discussion about the nature of the good, much less its apotheosis.
Debbie Hayton is a physics teacher, journalist, and also happens to be a trans woman. She has taken a lot of heat from many trans right activists due to her heterodox views on what it means to be a trans woman, and notably for wearing a shirt parodying the popular progressive slogan “trans women are women, get over it” with her own slogan that read “trans women are men, get over it.”
I’ve always enjoyed reading her work, and have had many pleasant encounters with her on Twitter, so it was nice to finally see her interviewed on Triggernometry—one of my favorite YouTube shows. Check it out below!
Abigail Shrier, author of the bestselling book Irreversible Damage, has been an absolute force advocating for the rights of girls and highlighting the many worrying issues with fast-tracking them through transition. While I don’t generally have a positive view of Dennis Prager and his PragerU, every once in a while he will produce a video with quality content. This video below with Abigail Shrier is a great example.
Clynelish 14-Year Scotch
Nose: Honey, pie crust, flowers, caramel, mango, apricot, pears, and other fresh fruits. Very distant campfire.
Taste: Honey butter, maple syrup, waffles, light smoke, lemon bar, doughnut glaze.
Mouthfeel: Not too oily. Medium viscosity.
Finish: Medium length, light smoke, fruit and honey.
This Scotch has been one of my favorite go-to bottles for a couple of years. It costs around $70 for a bottle, but it’s a great value for what you get. To my taste it outperforms many Scotches that are twice as expensive. From a distance, the first notes you pick up are apricot and citrus. As you approach the glass closer, you get a more well-rounded experience of ripe pears and apple cider, then leather and custard when you’re right on top of the glass.
The most recognizable noted on the first taste are honey butter and fruitcake. As you sit with it, you begin to get a sense of shortbread cookie and lemon. Perhaps a lemon bar is the best description, but more sweet than tart. This whisky is like a decadent dessert. The finish leaves you with wisps of sweet smoke.
This is a wonderful whisky that I’d recommend to anyone and for all occasions. I’ve enjoyed this with a cigar before, and it’s a truly beautiful pairing. Enjoy it slowly.
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