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This rhetorical dodge frequently appears in arguments about the preservation of female only spaces in society.  It is simply this, do you want this trans identified female in female only spaces?  We are presented with a picture of a female that has masculine features and dressed stereotypically male.

Can you see the false equivocation?  It goes like this, since we expect trans identified males to use the male washroom then also, we must expect trans identified females (like the dudette pictured above) to use the female washroom.  The ‘gotcha’ continues, sometimes alluding to butch lesbians being questioned in female only spaces.

What this argument glosses over is that, back in reality, the class of females and the class of males in our society are socialized in very different ways and despite any gender pretenses have roughly the same capacities of the sex they were birthed into.  So, women do not (in most cases) represent a threat to men in society this holds true regardless of how they ‘identify’.  (The solution the gender religious do not want to hear is that every male space should be ‘gender inclusive’ while female spaces remain protected.)

The contrapositve is not true though.  Men, regardless of how they identify, inhabit the class of people that do present a threat to women.   Male and female standing and socialization in society is not equal, and trying to fudge this fact in an argument about female safety and spaces is patently dishonest.  Therefore trans identified males – since they are male – are a threat to female safety and thus should not be in female only spaces.

If there is one feature that so many gender ideologues gloss over it is the current material conditions in society that we live in still work regardless of how one identifies.   We still live in a society that has many patriarchal features that do not magically disappear if we start erasing females and their boundaries.  On the contrary, corrupting female autonomy and boundaries increases the oppressive features of society for women.

There has been much controversy over lately at Science Based Medicine as they seem to have been institutionally captured by gender ideology and turning away from the foundations SBM was founded on.  When gender woo-magic takes precedent of science based facts the lambasting by those who keep their scientific integrity intact is inevitable, hence this letter by Emeritus Editor Kimball Atwood to Steve Novella about his decent into gender-woo.

 

Thank you for Jessie Singal for posting the letter.

 

 

Hi Steve,

Harriet has told me that you stated that her article “dragged SBM into a raging controversy.” She feels, and I agree, that it was your retracting that article and replacing it by very bad articles written by advocates of “gender affirmation” that dragged SBM into a raging controversy. I’ve attempted to explain why previously, but here I’ll mention a couple of the most obvious reasons.

You claimed that Harriet’s article was below SBM’s minimal standard for “high quality scientific evidence and reasoning to inform medical issues.” Yet you replaced it with articles stating things such as the following:

  • “Biology is a binary and differences of sex development (DSDs) are vanishingly rare”. False. DSDs are as common as 1 in 5,000 births, and increase to 1 in 200 or 1 in 300 if you include hypospadias and cryptorchidism. Biology is very, very well known to be a spectrum.

[Lovell attributes the sentence in quotes to Shrier; I’ve been unable to find it in her book]

Do you, Steve, think that sex is a spectrum? Yes, I know Lovell wrote “biology is a spectrum,” but that is an incoherent claim. Her implication is that sex is a spectrum. If that were true, it would upend all that we know about sex in mammals and many other life forms, including sexual dimorphism, reproduction, and selection. Do you think that Lovell’s statement constitutes “high quality scientific evidence and reasoning”? OMG, apparently you do. What’s happened to you?

Do you think that hypospadias and cryptorchism are DSDs? They are not, and to suggest that they are does not meet SBM’s minimal standard for reasoning about medical issues.

The citation is to a paper that discusses real DSDs, not cryptorchism or hypospadias, and makes no claims about a “spectrum.” It supports the very statement that Lovell claims to be false (even though Shrier seems never to have made that statement). Where was the editor here?

According to Eckert,

  • Throughout her book, Shrier refers to her subjects as “biological girls,” a term that conflates sex with gender and mischaracterizes Shrier’s subjects. The reason is that a person’s sex refers to the identity assigned by doctors, parents, and medical professionals at birth, most often based on external anatomy (genitals).

Do you, Steve, think that Shrier’s subjects were not biological girls? Do you think that this characterization conflates sex with gender? Do you think that sex is an “identity assigned by doctors,” rather than a fact noted by everyone in the delivery room in almost every case? Do you think that “human” is also an identity assigned by doctors? How does such an absurd passage meet SBM’s minimal standard for scientific evidence and reasoning? Do you really think that “this is good scientific practice—not political correctness”? How can you be so naive?

Finally, I’ll remind you of a previous objection that you haven’t answered, which refutes the crux of Lovell’s claim about “gender affirmation” for biological girls “lead(ing) to improved psychological outcomes”:

“Lastly, as clearly noted in the American Academy of Pediatrics statement, complete with many citations of their own, we use affirmation, pubertal suppression, and hormone therapy in youth because it leads to improved psychological outcomes. The literature is abundant and clear on this topic.”

The “abundant” link is not to several studies or a review of several studies, as the adjective implies, but to a single study that is irrelevant to Shrier’s thesis because it looks at a group of pre-pubescent, transgender children (age 3-12) undergoing only social transition, not at adolescent girls. It’s also not a good study because it controls its cohort with a cohort of non-transgender children, rather than with the appropriate control group (transgender children not undergoing social transition).

The “clear” link is to a paper that does not reveal whether its subjects were gender dysphoric (GD) in childhood or not, but whose abstract states:

Implications for impact: This study suggests that gender-affirming hormones are a helpful medical intervention for transgender youth. Gender-affirming hormones were found to be associated with decreases in suicidality and improvements in general well-being.”

That is all most SBM readers will read, if they even bother to click on the link. But in the discussion (behind a paywall; I got it on ResearchGate) we see this:

“Hypothesis 3 (i.e., those assigned female at birth will experience greater improvements in general well-being and larger decreases in suicidality) was not supported.” (My italics; parenthetical phrase in the original)

Need I mention (again) that this is the only outcome of the study that is relevant to Shrier’s book? Where was the editor here?

Speaking of editors, it appears that there have been none at SBM other than the original five. Of those, two ruled to retract Harriet’s review, two (Harriet and I) would have kept it, and one is dead. I knew Wally well enough to feel confident that he would have voted to keep the review, and that he would have been shocked, probably to the point of resigning, when you published the embarrassments by Lovell and Eckert and when you banned Andy Lewis from commenting.

No, it was not Harriet who dragged SBM into a raging controversy. It was you and David, because of some very poor choices, made worse by your doubling down after every reasonable objection by Jesse Singal, Andy Lewis, Michael Shermer, Jerry Coyne, Abigail Shrier, me, and several others.

Sincerely Yours,
Kimball

Catch up with the full article found here on The Critic.

This is the situation we are up against.  Speaking out against or even wanting to discuss the gender religion can be hazardous to you and your livelihood.  Isn’t it darkly fascinating that defining women as adult human females is considered, in some ‘progressive circles’ the pinnacle of heresy?

 

“You tweeted in May 2015:

  • Words are our servants not masters. But reality masterfully demands words to respect objective distinctions. “Social constructs” have limits
  • Thus, it is polite & praiseworthy to refer to trans people by pronoun of choice. But not when talking of, say, chromosomes or anatomy
  • No matter how neutral, objective, disinterested, or just plain true your statement, someone will be deeply (& offensively) offended.
  • Anthropologists respect a culture by, say, synonymising “brother” & “cousin”. But we must acknowledge scientific distinction as more real.

This is pretty much the position for which I lost my job at an international development think tank, and which was deemed by a judge to be “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”. It is the position for which JK Rowling has been deemed a terrible transphobe, and disavowed by the Robert F Kennedy Foundation, who also revoked an award.

Meaning matters when words are used to make, or break, the rules by which society operates

I imagine you got some pushback at the time, but not of the ferociousness that women face when they say this. And maybe not enough to spark a recognition that this is an authoritarian faith that has taken hold of our enlightenment institutions; complete with a catechism (“trans women are women, trans men are men, non-binary people are non-binary”), heresy laws and an inquisition. It has corrupted and corroded the systems for data collection, sense making and rule formation, for safety, cooperation, and collective endeavour.

In October 2015 you tweeted: “Is trans woman a woman? Purely semantic. If you define by chromosomes, no. If by self-identification, yes. I call her “she” out of courtesy.”

Courtesy is nice, but meaning matters when words are used to make, or break, the rules by which society operates. Is a “trans woman” a woman when it comes to women’s prisons, women’s refuges, women’s rugby, women’s athletics, the request by a woman to be seen by a female doctor, the rules around being searched by a police officer or a prison guard of a particular sex? Should statistics and medical risk assessment defer to courtesy or stick to facts?

I think you see it now. What is being asked is not just day-to-day courtesy, but replacing sex with self-identified gender in every situation and punishing those who refuse to comply (or who even ask to discuss).

Thank you for speaking up. Please keep doing it.”

Do speak up everyone and push back against this profoundly misogynistic anti-reality ideology, but stay safe while doing so.  Every voice, even anonymous voices on social media are important in spreading the word about this deeply regressive tide we are facing.

 

Speaking your mind can be a dangerous activity.  In the halls of academia though, it is purportedly the name of the game.  Please go and read Dr.Bert’s full post and enjoy her eloquence and clarity of thought in full.

I thought I would highlight some of the points that should be of interest to those who believe in academic freedom, and freedom of speech in general.

“[…]

‘I am a sociologist after all—and interrogate this current moment in which a certain contingent of social activists have deemed it not only justifiable, but proper, to silence any discussion about sex and negotiation of competing sex-based and gender-identity-based rights. Some might say, and I might agree, this is part of the larger ‘woke’ movement among those who identify with the Left. I might note that my political beliefs position me on the Left, but I believe in the importance of evidence, reason and logic, and a material reality in which we all exist).'”

Her resignation letter (from the Division of Women and Crime) really knocks it out of the park, it is a clarion call to those who remain on the non gender religious Left. (**ed.  It was mistakenly reported here that Dr.Burt’s letter was to the Editorial board, when in fact it was from the Division of Women and Crime – change applied to the relevant parts of this post and apologies to Dr.Burt**)

“However, a division that traffics in mantras and refuses to engage with people raising valid concerns (dismissing people for ‘hateful wrong think’), is not a group I wish to be a member of. For those of you who consider me a ‘meany’, baddie, hater who is a transphobe, you’re probably relieved. But you are wrong. I am not a transphobe, and I do not hate trans people or males or anyone. 

Just this week reports came out of a male who self-ID’ed into the women’s prison in Washington state and raped a female prisoner housed there. I think that’s something to discuss; your explicit position is that doing so is hateful transphobia that must be silenced for inclusivity and the well-being of transgender people. But what about females and transwomen who would be harmed by predatory males self-ID’ing into women’s spaces?

Many of you were part of the LGBT movement in the late 1990s/early 2000s, and some of you weren’t. I was. We didn’t effect change by refusing to engage, dismissing those who disagreed, and censoring any discussion of negotiating gay rights. We were successful because we talked. We tried to understand the positions of others and helped them see ours. Maybe your attempts to censor any discussion of sex will work to effect the change you wish to see in the world. Maybe it won’t. Regardless of the outcome, I do not find the division’s silencing discussion of issues, which are complex and multilayered and sometimes uncomfortable, acceptable in academia or in the Division of Women and Crime. 

I wish you well, and I’m sad to go. But I refuse to go along silently with a group that calls discussion of gender/sex-self-ID ‘transphobic’ when there are real issues to discuss here that have everything to do with the safety of females and transwomen and nothing to do with hate or bigotry.”

Wow.

 

*applause*

 

 

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