Princeton anthropologist Agustin Fuentes, in a recent Scientific American article,
differs considerably from that of mammals. The existence of such animals, he claimed, challenges standard notions of binary sex. Among these animals were sex-changing fish, hermaphroditic worms, and a single-sex species of lizard.
Fuentes then went on to argue that although mammals are less “freewheeling” as they exhibit physiological processes such as pregnancy that are limited to “ova-producers,” human sex is not binary because numerous biological and social characteristics of a person, ranging from homemaking ability to athletic prowess, are not fully correlated with whether they produce ova or sperm.
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Scientifically, this makes about as much sense as saying humans are not warm-blooded because some humans have red hair. However, logic doesn’t matter because basic concepts of binary sex are incompatible with fashionable gender ideology and the policies supported by LGBT activists. Therefore, the basic idea of biological sex is increasingly under attack as anachronistic, bigoted, and unscientific for good measure.
Outdated junk science is being weaponized against the trans community,
science historian Jules Gill-Peterson of Johns Hopkins University in a 2022 interview with Scientific American.
In an opinion piece published the same year in the prestigious journal Science, a group of scholars
scientists studying sex to be cautious of lawmakers and policymakers who may misunderstand or misuse their work and the consequences this may have for members of the LGBT community.
“Using biological definitions in the law may sound like responsible governance, but it can result in harmful or illogical outcomes,” they explained. “This can occur through a variety of means, including … uncritical use of binary sex categories in science; and ignoring bioscientific evidence about the complexity, mutability, context specificity, and plurality of sex and gender.”
These authors weren’t alone.
“As scientists, we must push back against the misappropriation of biological terms by promoting precise language … (e.g., ‘menstruating people’) and acknowledging that people express these variables in ways that may not conform with a binary system of sex or gender,”
the authors of another opinion piece from Science, this one published in 2021.
Yet, nowhere in these or similar calls to arms against biological sex, often purportedly made in the name of accurate and precise discussions of biology, does anyone adequately explain how there is a meaningful biological difference between a menstruating person and a woman or offer a biological description of “nonbinary” for anything other than perhaps a fungus or alga.
Instead, like Fuentes, the authors of such pieces usually present a small ark of animals and other organisms with aspects of their reproductive biology that may seem bizarre to most people and act as if these are newly discovered exceptions that completely abolish antiquated rules that still shape our understanding of biological sex.
However, those who have studied organisms other than mammals are well aware of these supposed exceptions. They have been for quite some time.
But, most biologists never felt the need to completely negate the notion of binary sex simply because a more biologically accurate version of Finding Nemo would result in a completely different kind of film, albeit one probably more on-brand with current Disney
Even fewer would have ever suggested the existence of hermaphroditic worms warrants an overhaul of seventh grade health class.
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Yet, with increasing frequency, this is exactly what many scientists and educators have been doing through arguments that are often logically and scientifically incoherent. They use these arguments to silence critics of favored narratives and appear to discredit those who might assert the authority of science when defending their opposition to the preferred policies of LGBT activists.
Daniel Nuccio is a Ph.D. student in biology and a regular contributor to the College Fix and the Brownstone Institute.