Weekly Recap: May 6, 2021
Thanks for being patient on this belated Weekly Recap! Last week was not a good one to miss, since so so much has been happening in the realm of sex denialism and gender ideology in society. I will be covering some of the most significant happenings over the last two weeks, so apologies for the length. I will be more brief on each topic so that this post does not run on forever.
In case you missed it…
I posted an article covering an organization called AMAZE, which is serving as an online resource for educating children about sex, sexuality, and gender. Instead, it is peddling pseudoscience and gender ideology. In my article I covered three videos from their YouTube channel that I though were particularly ideological and, frankly, dangerous. Click the picture below to check it out.
Thou shalt not question gender ideology! Atheist organization strips Richard Dawkins of award for gender blasphemy
In the last Weekly Recap I reported on a tweet by Richard Dawkins that raised the following question:
He then issued a clarification, as people began calling him transphobic.
This, however, was too late. Dawkins had violated the central dogma of gender ideology—don’t question gender ideology. He is now a gender heretic, and must be excommunicated. And that’s what the American Humanist Association did in the wake of Dawkins’ tweets. On April 19, the AHA decided to strip Dawkins of his 1996 “Humanist of the Year” award. The AHA issued the following statement:
Established in 1953, the Humanist of the Year Award is conferred annually by the American Humanist Association (AHA), recognizing the awardee as an exemplar of humanist values. Communication of scientific concepts to the public is an important aspect of advancing the cause of humanism. Richard Dawkins was honored in 1996 by the AHA as Humanist of the Year for his significant contributions in this area.
Regrettably, Richard Dawkins has over the past several years accumulated a history of making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalized groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values. His latest statement implies that the identities of transgender individuals are fraudulent, while also simultaneously attacking Black identity as one that can be assumed when convenient. His subsequent attempts at clarification are inadequate and convey neither sensitivity nor sincerity.
Consequently, the AHA Board has concluded that Richard Dawkins is no longer deserving of being honored by the AHA, and has voted to withdraw, effective immediately, the 1996 Humanist of the Year award.
This is about the least humanist thing the AHA could have done, as it essentially amounts to excommunicating someone for blasphemy. While I don’t agree with the gender ideology the AHA likely promotes, they could have attempted to make this a teaching moment by issuing a response to Dawkins about why they felt his statements were wrong and harmful. But instead they have made a mockery of their organization by pettily revoking a 25-year-old award from someone who has done more for humanism than anyone I can think of.
In response to the AHA’s decision, two former “Humanist of the Year” awardees, Steven Pinker (2006) and Rebecca Goldstein (2011) issued the following statement:
It is unfortunate but not surprising that the AHA acted the way they did. The atheist movement was hijacked by woke activists in the early 2010s, and almost every atheist organization can now best be described as “Democrats for Social Justice who also happen to be atheists.” These organizations are no longer centered around atheism and issues like the separation of church and state.
There is, however, one exception—Atheists for Liberty—and I just-so-happen to be on their board of advisors along with some truly amazing people like Peter Boghossian, Melissa Chen, James Lindsay, Yasmine Mohammed, Gad Saad, Michael Shermer, and David Silverman. Please check out their website I linked to above, and follow them on Twitter if you’re interested in supporting and participating in an atheist organization that has not been consumed by woke ideology.
Nonbinary athlete’s story shows how confused everyone is about sex, gender identity, and sports
Sports Illustrated ran a very strange story last week about a non-binary person’s struggles in sports, given that leagues are often split into binary men’s and women’s leagues/events.
As society’s understanding of gender shifts and more and more athletes come out as nonbinary, leagues need to be prepared to accept them—not just in words, but with concrete policies.
Nothing quite demonstrates the current societal confusion surrounding sex and gender than people failing to grasp why leagues and events are segregated in the first place. They conflate sex with gender identity, and then get upset when it’s explained to them that sports are segregated by biological sex, not gender identity. Identity just isn’t something relevant to sports. I made a short thread on Twitter about this.
But confused activists apparently want a nonbinary league.
Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has recently vetoed an attempt to ban a variety of topics in sex education for children, including gender identity. The Associated Press reports:
The proposed law, Senate Bill 1456, would have barred all discussions about gender identity, sexual orientation or HIV/AIDS in sex education classes unless parents are notified in advance and specifically opt in for the instruction.
The proposal applied outside of sex ed classes as well, requiring parents to agree to have their children learn about historical events such as a discussion of the modern gay rights movement that sprang from the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York.
It also banned any sex ed classes before 5th grade, which opponents have said will put young students who now learn about “good touch-bad touch” to avoid molestation at greater risk.
Laws like this walk a narrow tightrope. While I don’t have anything against sex education taking place before 5th grade, if done properly and factually, we know that education surrounding “gender identity” is almost exclusively done from a very ideological perspective that reduces “boys” and “girls” to certain sex-related behavioral stereotypes. I simply would not trust anyone to properly educate my child on gender identity without indoctrinating them into these regressive notions of gender.
North Dakota Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Ban Trans Students From Playing Sports
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum vetoed a bill that would have prevented K-12 students from participating in sports according to gender self-ID instead of their biological sex. Unfortunately many people can’t seem to grasp the simple distinction between sex and identity, or are simply afraid to acknowledge it due to the inevitable backlash that would follow any such statement.
Burgum said in a statement that there is no evidence that fairness in school sports is threatened under the current legislation.
"North Dakota today has a level playing field and fairness in girls' sports," Burgum said. "We have every confidence that they will continue to ensure a level playing field for the 27,000 students who participate in North Dakota high school sports."
Burgum also said there has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl trying to play on a girls' team in the state. The bill stated that public schools could not "knowingly allow an individual of the opposite sex" to join an exclusively boys' or girls' team.
The claim that “there is no evidence that fairness in school sports is threatened” if males are allowed to compete against females is simply ignorant of biology. There are currently hundreds if not thousands of high school boys who could shatter the adult female world records in every track and field event. It is simply not fair to high school female athletes to allow males into their events.
It is also a very strange line of argumentation to suggest that have nothing to worry about because there are no records of transgender girls trying to play on girls’ teams in the state. All right, but this says nothing about fairness. Just because it has not happened doesn’t mean it won’t, and when it does happen—because it inevitably will—it will be unfair.
While an argument could be made that it is less important that very young children be segregated by sex, since puberty has not begun transforming their bodies in divergent ways, the same cannot be said for older kids who are undergoing puberty.
We are starting to see more and more cases like this, as you will see below.
Kansas governor vetoes trans sports bill
Kansas Gov Laura Kelly vetoed a similar bill in Kansas, stating that banning males from competing in female sports is “divisive.” Well yes, that’s sort of the point. Males and females need to be divided in some very limited contexts—such as sports—to promote fairness.
Again we see the framing that this bill would prevent trans children from competing in sports generally, rather than simply preventing males from competing against females. Nobody is telling trans people they can’t play sports. All that’s being required of them is to compete against the same sex, at least for biologically advantaged males.
We also see the statement that we should allow male athletes to compete against females because of the high suicide rates for trans children. But female sports does not exist as therapy for gender dysphoric males. It exists as a space for female athletes to compete and win on a level playing field. Plus, where is the data suggesting that not being allowed to self-ID into whatever sports category you choose leads to more suicide?
As Stephen Knight on Twitter showed, the narrative is shifting quickly:
Alabama governor signs bill banning male athletes to compete as females
But not all of these sports bills are being vetoed. Some governors actually understand the difference between biology and identity, like Republican Gov. Kay Ivey:
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday signed legislation restricting transgender students from participating in K-12 sports, making Alabama the latest conservative state to ban transgender girls from playing on female sports teams.
Ivey’s office announced in an email that she had signed the bill that says a public K-12 school “may never allow a biological male to participate on a female team.” Asked if the governor had a comment on the decision, spokeswoman Gina Maiola said she could confirm the governor signed the bill but did not elaborate.
Supporters of the bill, HB 391, say transgender girls are born bigger and faster and have an unfair advantage in competition. Opponents argue the bills are rooted in discrimination and fear, and violate the federal law barring sex discrimination in education.
But notice the wrongful portrayal of the issue. The article claims the legislation restricts “transgender students from participating in K-12 sports…” But in reality this is completely false. Nobody is telling trans students they can’t play school sports. They’re only being required, if they’re biologically male, to compete against other biological males. That’s it.
Ivey’s office makes it clear when they state that schools “may never allow a biological male to participate on a female team” that she fully understands this issue isn’t about identity, but biology.
Ohio to allow transgender people to change birth certificate gender
It is one thing to change your legal sex that appears on documents like a driver’s license or state ID, and another thing entirely to change the sex on a birth certificate. While there can be some reasonable debate about what contexts it might be appropriate, legally, to treat an individual as the opposite sex, I can think of no legitimate reason for altering the sex on a birth certificate except for very rare instances where doctors may have mis-recorded an individual’s sex due to the existence of an intersex condition.
Ohio will soon join nearly every other state in the country in allowing transgender people born in the state to change the gender markers on their birth certificates. Tennessee will soon be the lone holdout.
The Ohio Department of Health will not appeal a federal court ruling issued in December that found the state’s ban on birth certificate gender changes is unconstitutional. The department is instead working on a process for people to request the change and expects to have it in place by June 1, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Monday, citing a court filing made Thursday.
What is perhaps most worrying is that apparently nearly every state currently allows individuals to edit their birth certificates in this way, with Tennessee being the only exception.
You’ll remember that the New England Journal of Medicine somewhat recently argued that biological sex should be moved below the “demarcation line,” which means it should be included in anonymized and aggregate public record data (like race and parent marital status, etc), but that it should not appear as a public record. The authors argued that biological sex does not have any clinical relevance, and I responded to this article with a piece in Quillette if you’re interested to read it.
Federal judge dismisses lawsuit that sought to block transgender female athletes from competing in girls high school sports in Connecticut
You may remember the case where two transgender girls competed against biological females in their high school’s track team, winning 1st and 2nd place, and breaking the school’s women’s track record for the event. Some girls from the school ended up suing the school for Title IX violations.
Recently, a judge has dismissed the case because, according to Yahoo News, “the two transgender athletes, Terry Miller of Bloomfield and Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell, have graduated and the plaintiffs could no longer identify any other transgender female athletes…” Because there were no longer any violations taking place, since no other trans girls were currently competing at the school, the case was dismissed on procedural grounds. The judge noted that a new challenge may be raised should that change in future years.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny has dismissed on procedural grounds a lawsuit filed in federal court against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which sought to halt transgender female athletes from participating in girls high school sports in Connecticut, but the plaintiffs say they will appeal the ruling.
“I conclude that the plaintiffs’ challenge to the CIAC policy is not justiciable at this time and their claims for monetary relief are barred and dismiss the action on this basis without addressing the other grounds raised in the joint motion,” Chatigny wrote in a ruling released Sunday.
Chatigny stated that because the two transgender athletes, Terry Miller of Bloomfield and Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell, have graduated and the plaintiffs could no longer identify any other transgender female athletes, there was no further dispute to resolve.
Chatigny left open the possibility of a new challenge if additional transgender athletes were to compete during the coming year.
Caitlyn Jenner running for CA governor
In other news, Caitlyn Jenner has launched her campaign for governor of California.
Jenner’s campaign may be useful in the battle for the relevance of biological sex, because Jenner, like many older trans individuals, are intimately aware of their biology and what they are. Jenner’s ad did not shy away from her past as Beruce Jenner, the Olympic gold medal athlete. And given Jenner’s experience as a gold medal Olympic athlete who competed as a male, she certainly knows better than most about the male advantage in sports. Indeed, Jenner was specifically asked about her views on trans girls competing against female athletes, and she is firmly against it due to issues of fairness.
Caster Semenya weighs in and misses the point
Caster Semenya is an athlete with an intersex condition known as 5-ARD. This condition, only found in XY males, often results in ambiguous-looking genitalia. Sometimes doctors will wrongly identify these infants as females on their birth certificates. However, during puberty internal testes begin producing high levels of testosterone, and 5-ARD individuals typically experience partial or full male puberty. It’s nearly impossible to find any honest reporting on Semenya’s condition, and most simply describe her as “a woman with high testosterone,” leaving out the fact that she is XY, has testes, and had experienced male puberty to a large degree.
Recently Semenya came out to voice her opinion on sports.
According to the article:
The waiting, the arguments, the accusations would be enough to drive away many from the sport. Semenya, however, is calm. “I trained like a slave to be the greatest,” she says. “I’ve watched Usain Bolt train. His training was insane and I am the same. My high testosterone levels are something I was born with, it’s a disorder. It doesn’t make me the best, though. That’s where the training and knowledge comes in.
“Michael Phelps’s arms are wide enough for him to do whatever he wants. Swimmers’ lungs are different to other people’s. Basketball players like LeBron James are tall. If all the tall players are banned from playing, will basketball be the same? Usain has amazing muscle fibres. Are they going to stop him, too? My organs may be different and I may have a deep voice, but I am a woman.”
This is the typical “bodies come in all shapes and sizes” argument. While it is true that we do love to see extraordinary athletes compete, this only applies within certain categories. We would not allow a 300lb powerlifter to compete in the 150lb class because it wouldn’t be fair to the 150lb athletes. For the same reasons we should not allow male athletes to compete against females.
Maya Forstader case and appeal
Over in the UK, Maya Forstater is appealing a previous court ruling regarding whether her views count as “beliefs” under the Equality Act, and should be protected. Lesbian and Gay News outlines the issue:
In what is likely to be a hearing with far reaching implications, next week the Employment Appeal Tribunal will consider Maya Forstater’s Equality Act claim. The hearing will turn on the question of whether or not views which can be broadly described as “gender critical” amount legally to a “belief” under the Equality Act. Such beliefs in law are afforded protected characteristic status under the Act, such that discrimination and harassment based upon them is unlawful. Ms. Forstater claims her former employer failed to continue with her services as a policy consultant because she holds the view that biological sex is binary and immutable.
Ms. Forstater lost her case in the Employment Tribunal on this issue in December 2019 when a Judge held that her views were not “worthy of respect in a democratic society”. That criterion is one of the five legal tests, (all of which must be met), before a belief is regarded as such in law. Many legal and academic commentators at the time regarded the judgment as surprising and bold not least because it could easily be read as dictating the “correct” view in a fraught area of public debate. To say the first instance judgment caused much public interest and debate would be something of an understatement. It was this case which inspired JK Rowling’s now famous “Dress however you please…#IStandWithMaya” tweet and the ensuing social media storm around the issue.
For a legal break-down of some of the “myths” surroudning Forstater’s views, as well as their legal implications, please see this other article from Lesbian and Gay News.
Dr Callie Burt removed from editorial position
Dr Callie Burt is an academic who has written a lot about gender ideology and the need to acknowledge biological reality in law. She opposes self-ID laws. Burt has written a great academic article about president Biden’s proposed “Equality Act,” and why it needs to be dramatically amended before implementation.
Recently, due to Dr. Burt’s gender critical views, she has been removed from her position on the editorial board of the journal Feminist Criminology.
Dr. Burt has written a detailed account of the situation on her blog.
As I mentioned on Twitter, this is how academic journals become ideologically captured. Dr. Burt was one of only a few gender critical voices able to adequately criticize certain viewpoints academically, or accept papers that might offer a different viewpoint. This is akin to a journal on Intelligent Design booting out the last remaining scientist who believes in naturalistic evolution.
Peer review does not work properly is all your peers are in agreement.
Texas Democrat claims there are 6 sexes
I can’t tell you how many people told me years ago that I was taking sex denialism too seriously. I was told that I might as well be arguing against Flat Earthers, because sex denialism was similarly fringe and nothing to worry about.
Pretty much every day since has demonstrated that view to be wrong, and just last week a Texas Democrat, James Talarico, publicly announced a view that three years ago you would have only been able to see on Tumblr blogs.
The Washington Times has reported on the incident. And I have written about the claim that there are six sexes here on Substack as well in my article “Sex Chromosome Variants Are Not Their Own Unique Sexes.” So please give that a read for the detailed rebuke.
For length reasons I will leave it at that for now. The new next Weekly Recap is scheduled for this upcoming Monday, and every Monday thereafter. There is so much going on in this area now that unfortunately I have to pick and choose what I feel are the most relevant stories. Apologies if I have left out something you think was important. Chances are I am aware of it and simply had to cut it for space.
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