Noted atheist, scientist, and intellectual Richard Dawkins penned an essay this week titled, "Race Is a Spectrum. Sex Is Pretty Damn Binary" for Areo magazine.
At first blush one might assume Dawkins — despite his lofty status among the left — would get major pushback for his assertion that sex is binary. But it appears that nearly all the comments underneath his essay are positive.
So what is Dawkins saying?
Invoking Rachel Dolezal — who lived as a black woman and even ran a local NAACP until she was outed as white a few years back — Dawkins argues that because people of different races have been procreating forever, there is a spectrum of skin colors, which legitimately opens the door for many people to identify as whatever race they see fit.
But when it comes to sex, apart from a minute number of anomalies, it's very much binary. We're either male or female:
Race is very much a spectrum. Most African-Americans are mixed race, so there really is a spectrum. Somebody who looks white may even call themselves black, may have a very slight [African inheritance]. People who have one great-grandparent who is Native American may call themselves Native American. Sex on the other hand is pretty damn binary. So on the face of it, it would seem easier for someone to identify as whatever race they choose. If you have one black parent and one white parent, you might think you could choose what to identify as.
While Dawkins appears to be no fan of those who wake up one day and decide to be male when they're clearly female, and vice versa — particularly when their subsequent actions harm others — he does have sympathy for those with gender dysphoria and who go full-on with their transition.
"If I chose to identify as a hippopotamus, you would rightly say I was being ridiculous. The claim is too facetiously at variance with reality. ... Not at all ridiculous, however, was James Morris’s choice to identify as a woman and his grueling and costly transition to Jan Morris," he writes. "Her explanation, in Conundrum, of how she always felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body is eloquent and moving. It rings agonizingly true and earns our deep sympathy. We rightly address her with feminine pronouns, and treat her as a woman in social interactions. We should do the same with others in her situation, honest and decent people who have wrestled all their lives with the distressing condition known as gender dysphoria."
He adds, "I doubt that Jan Morris would have had much time for a man who simply flings on a frock and announces, 'I am now a woman.' For Dr. Morris, it was a ten-year odyssey. Prolonged hormone treatment, drastic surgery, readjustment of social conventions and personal relationships — those who take this plunge earn our deep respect for that very reason."
Sex can be changed?
Curiously Dawkins says in no uncertain terms that biological sex can be changed. "Changing sex is a big deal," he writes — yet without accounting for the fact that while a person can go through surgeries and hormone therapy, that person's DNA can't change.
He also notes toward the end of his piece that "every one of your genes comes from either your father or your mother. No gene is a mixture of paternal with maternal. Every gene either marches on to the next generation or it doesn’t. Genes never mix like paint. Nor does sex ..."
In related news, Dawkins just over a month ago said he signed Declaration on Women's Sex-Based Rights and urged others to do so. The document's subheading states, "The Declaration re-affirms women and girls' sex-based rights, and challenges the discrimination we experience from the replacement of the category of sex with that of ‘gender identity.’"
The Washington Examiner reported that "several Twitter users declined Dawkins's call to sign the document, describing it as prejudiced against transgender people."
The paper added that the declaration also asserts that "use of puberty-suppressing drugs, cross-sex hormones, and surgery on children are emerging harmful practices," citing United Nations recommendations.
Indeed, the Examiner noted that the American Humanist Association withdrew its 1996 Humanist of the Year award from Dawkins earlier this year because of his "use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalized groups."