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Why do scientists keep pandering to gender ideology?

Scientific American has debased itself by publishing trans pseudoscience.

Stephen Knight

Topics Identity Politics Science & Tech USA

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A dangerous strain of utopian thinking has taken hold of the ‘progressive’ left. Many now share the delusion that if we pretend certain falsehoods are true, then various forms of oppression and bigotry will magically disappear. Worse still, the proponents of these falsehoods demand their unequivocal affirmation from the rest of us.

Today’s leftists rightly insist on the importance of scientific truth when it comes to questions like climate change, vaccine safety and evolution. But they will discard scientific facts the moment they become inconvenient to their own worldview. Nowhere is this hypocrisy more pronounced than on the issue of gender, where transgender ideology has almost entirely supplanted scientific truth among the left. More alarming still is the fact that many scientists and scientific institutions, which really should know better, are colluding in this deception.

The latest scientific institution to promote gender pseudoscience is the once-venerable Scientific American magazine, which this week published an article headlined ‘Here’s why human sex is not binary’.

Make no mistake, sex in human beings really is binary and immutable. There are few things more emphatically true in our scientific understanding of the world than the human sex binary. Human beings cannot change their sex – we are either male or female, as determined by which type of gametes our biology is organised to produce (sperm or eggs). These are observable, testable scientific facts. And this objective truth matters in very real and consequential ways – to our society, to law, to healthcare and to the safety of women and children.

Trans ideologues claim that the categories of male and female are on a ‘spectrum’, or that they represent nothing more than a subjective feeling. These ideas have already had disastrous consequences for society. It is thanks to these ideas that male rapists have been placed in women’s prisons in the UK. It is why, just this weekend, a biological man won an elite women’s cycling race in America – finishing 89 seconds ahead of the closest female competitor and netting $35,350 in prize money. We would simply recognise this as ‘cheating’ were it not for the hold that gender ideology has over our institutions – and for the opprobrium that is visited on anyone who dissents.

After some silly and irrelevant trivia about the biology of lizards and fish (humans are neither fish nor lizards), the Scientific American article concludes by claiming that anyone who upholds the human sex binary is ‘trying to restrict who counts as a full human in society’. This single claim inadvertently reveals a great deal about what is wrong with the trans movement. Unable to refute the truth of the human sex binary, gender ideologues resort to demonising those who notice it as having ulterior, sinister motives.

This isn’t the first time Scientific American has lent its (now waning) credibility to gender nonsense. Back in 2018, it published an article titled ‘Sex redefined: the idea of two sexes is overly simplistic’. To this day, this piece is gleefully shared around by gender activists, emboldened by this apparent vindication of their ideology from a credible, scientific publication. However, the author of the piece has since clarified that reality actually is as simplistic as humans having only ‘two sexes’.

Trans ideologues will often attempt to muddy the water on the binary nature of human sex by pointing to the existence of ‘intersex’ people. They presumably do so in the hope that most people don’t know what ‘intersex’ means. Far from describing a half-man, half-woman hybrid, ‘intersex’ is actually an umbrella term that refers to a plethora of conditions, differences and disorders in sex development. These conditions actually prove the existence of the sex binary, as most of them are exclusive to males or females. For example, Klinefelter Syndrome, where boys are born with an extra X chromosome, is specific to biological males. Meanwhile, Turner Syndrome, which results in girls having just one normal X chromosome, only affects biological females. In any case, discussions around intersex people have no real relevance to the trans debate. They are a red herring. Most people who identify as trans are not intersex and there is no doubt as to which side of the sex binary they belong.

It’s not just scientific institutions that have fallen for gender pseudoscience, either. Even atheist and humanist organisations – established specifically to defend scientific principles from religious overreach – are not immune to the influence of this cult.

Back in 2021, American Atheists, the American Humanist Association and the Secular Coalition for America all released statements strongly condemning (and cutting ties with) the celebrated evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins. The American Humanist Association even went so far as to rescind Dawkins’ 1996 Humanist of the Year Award.

This all happened because Dawkins dared to encourage discussion on the limits of ‘self-identification’ where gender and race are concerned. In short, we had atheist and humanist organisations excommunicating an evolutionary biologist for questioning an ideology that makes false claims about biology. They said that Dawkins engaged in ‘transphobia’, but they may as well have just said ‘heresy’.

Dr Emma Hilton is a developmental biologist at the University of Manchester and a co-founder of the women’s rights organisation, Sex Matters. When I asked her what compels otherwise sensible people to make anti-scientific claims about human sex, she said: ‘Charitably, if you remove the ability to classify (by arguing classifications are arbitrary, meaningless, etc), you remove the ability to discriminate (or at least stigmatise). So, for some, “sex blindness” is a genuine strategy for social change. But it is a stupid one.’

Of course, many have long suspected that trans ideology, which primarily generates advantages for biological men, might simply be underpinned by plain old misogyny. ‘Less charitably’, Dr Hilton said, ‘a lot of men don’t like uppity women. And making the word “woman” meaningless is patriarchy on steroids.’

In any case, you do not need to tell lies about the nature of human sex to defend equal rights for transgender people. It is the equivalent of demanding we must all agree that the world is 6,000 years old, lest we discriminate against Young Earth Creationists. Not only is all of this completely unnecessary, but it may also hurt the very people gender ideologues are trying to protect. If your rights-based demands are wrapped up in demonstrable falsehoods, many will feel justified in dismissing those rights, thanks to your junk justifications.

When activists demand that we reject scientific facts and engage in magical thinking, their movement then strays into the realm of theocracy. How odd that so many scientists have embraced these new faith-based claims.

Stephen Knight is host of the Godless Spellchecker podcast and the Knight Tube. Follow him on Twitter: @GSpellchecker

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Identity Politics Science & Tech USA

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