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New study finds most scientists in UK universities believe sex is binary
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New study finds most scientists in UK universities believe sex is binary

A new poll found that most British scientists hold that sex is binary and that gender is fluid, according to the Telegraph. The debate between sex and gender has quickly devolved into a topic of political leveraging, which has large implications for future policy.

The survey featured 200 scientists from universities throughout the U.K., and the findings indicate that 58% of those polled believe sex is binary. One of the only exceptions to this position is when someone is born intersex — those who are born with both male and female biological attributes.

Just 29% of those polled agreed with the statement "sex is not binary," and the remaining 13% either had no views or preferred not to answer the question, per the New York Post.

However, the numbers flipped when scientists were asked whether gender was fluid or binary. The majority, 64%, said gender is fluid, while just 22% said gender is binary. And the remaining 14% provided no answer.

Wolfgang Goymann — a professor of behavioral biology at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence — told the Telegraph that "this just means that at least 29% of the academics that filled out this questionnaire do not understand the biological concept of sex, and at least 22% of them do not know what gender means."

While sex is a biological classification, gender refers to societal norms for a given sex, such as roles and relationships between males and females. Goymann published a paper for BioEssays in 2023, writing, "Biomedical and social scientists are increasingly calling the biological sex into question, arguing that sex is a graded spectrum rather than a binary trait. Leading science journals have been adopting this relativist view, thereby opposing fundamental biological facts. While we fully endorse efforts to create a more inclusive environment for gender-diverse people, this does not require denying biological sex."

"On the contrary, the rejection of biological sex seems to be based on a lack of knowledge about evolution and it champions species chauvinism, inasmuch as it imposes human identity notions on millions of other species."

More than half of the scientists who took part in the poll reportedly have doctoral degrees. Among those who participated, 18% are faculty of the social sciences, 13% are involved in medicine, and another 12% work in the life sciences.

Helen Joyce, director of advocacy at the human rights group Sex Matters, said, "This survey has two remarkable findings. The first is that 29% of academics are apparently unaware of the obvious fact that sex is binary."

“The second is that nearly two-thirds of academics say that ‘gender is fluid.’ That is a strikingly confident statement about a nebulous concept,” she added.

“Most ordinary people think ‘gender’ is just a polite alternative to ‘sex,’ so are these academics talking about personal style — masculinity or femininity, or assertions about ‘identity’ — that is, states of mind?” she concluded.

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