The Casual Use of Propagandistic Language Surrounding Sex and Gender

While the common term “trans woman” appears in the Fox News headline and article covering this story, the construct “transgender female” also appears in the piece, and is used to distinguish Tiffany Thomas from the “biological females” with whom Thomas competes in elite-level cycling. This is propagandistic language, which readers might find surprising coming from Fox News, since the language favors gender ideology by creating the false impression that there is a class of female in the human species other than biological; one would expect, given Fox News’ political bias, that the editors there would avoid leaving such an impression. At the same time, Fox News is deploying unscientific language, which is unsurprising.

Referring to females, the qualifiers “transgender” and “biological” function to indicate that there is are such things as nonbiological females. There are no such things. Female is a genotype, a category of natural history; as such, to speak about females presumes biology. Even if we were to agree with the theory that the category “woman” is a sociocultural construct that males can appropriate, we cannot do so with the category “female.” (Nor can we with the category “male.”) Anomalies aside, humans are not the only species of animal—or plant, for that matter—composed of two distinct genotypes. The classification “female” is not a sociocultural construct. It is a scientific term that refers to an objectively-existing thing.

USA Cycling follows the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) rules regarding transgender athletes at the elite level of competition. Under questioning, USA Cycling points to the “main points” on its website, referencing Policy VII: “Those who transition from female to male (FTM) are eligible to compete in the male category upon providing a written and signed declaration acceptable to the UCI Medical Manager. It is the responsibility of athletes to be aware of current WADA/USADA [World Anti-Doping Agency/US Anti-Doping Agency] policies and to file for appropriate therapeutic use exemptions.”

The policy states: “Those who transition from male to female (MTF) are eligible to compete in the female category under the following conditions: The athlete has declared that their gender identity is female. The athlete must demonstrate that their total testosterone level in serum has been below 2.5 nmol/L for a period of at least 24 months. The athlete’s total testosterone level in serum must remain below 2.5 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.”

One wonders why the athlete needs to declare that their gender identity is female. There is nothing objective about such a declaration. It changes nothing. Moreover, the athlete would be declaring a nonsensical status, since “female” is not a gender identity. Gender identity is different from biological sex, which is determined by a person’s chromosomes and gametes. (It is also different from sexual orientation, i.e., an individual’s romantic or attraction to others based on genotype.)

There is no such thing as FTM or MTF transition in our species. While there are some animal species that can change their sex (examples of sequential hermaphrodites include bluehead and leopard wrasse, clownfish, green sea turtles, and parrotfish), humans cannot. No mammal species can change its sex or can be classified as a different sex on the basis of hormones or the appearance of external genitalia or secondary sex characteristics (that the female spotted hyena is dominant over her male counterpart and has higher levels of testosterone, which can causes her to develop male-like genitalia and behaviors, doesn’t obviate her sex).

The USA Cycling and the UCI are denying basic science in policy. The attempt to bring science in with the reference to testosterone levels serves only to manufacture an appearance. Male and female genotype cannot be reduced to testosterone or any other isolated interval- or ratio-level variable. Genotype is a constellation of qualitative and quantitative variables. There are many differences between males and females that put girls and women at a distinct competitive disadvantage to boys and men. To be sure, some of these differences are influenced by testosterone, such as muscle mass, bone density, and red blood production. But these factors are irreducible to testosterone and, once developed during puberty, remain despite testosterone levels.

Compared to females, on average, males have a larger build than females; males typically have broader shoulders, narrower hips, and a more muscular physique, inducing more muscle mass and different mixes of muscle types. These differences give males advantages in activities that require physical strength, e.g., cycling, swimming, and weightlifting. Females tend to have a higher percentage of body fat compared to males, which can make it more difficult to perform certain physical activities that require endurance, e.g., cycling, running, and swimming. Females generally have wider hips and a narrower ribcage compared to males, and a different center of gravity, which can affect balance and stability. Men are on average taller than women, which gives them advantage in sports where height is an asset, such as basketball and volleyball. The male physique puts females at a distinct disadvantage in contact powers.

These overlapping distribution of factors are accompanied by qualitative differences between the sexes. Females are the only sex capable of becoming pregnant and giving birth, which can result in time away from work or other activities and can put them at a disadvantage in competitive environments. Pregnancy and child birth change the body in ways that affect a woman’s capacity to compete. Furthermore, the reproductive capacity comes with menstruation. Only women can experience the cycles that can cause discomfort and pain that affect physical and mental performance. Women are not men with less testosterone. Women and men are qualitatively different things.

Tiffany Thomas, a male dominating women’s cycling.

Why don’t articles like this just specify that the subject of the story is a male who lives as a woman? Why obscure the reality that a male is competing in the female division of the sport and therefore enjoys an unfair physical advantage in competition? After all, that’s the reason why competitive sports are segregated by genotype. Honest language is not used because that would change the way the reader reacts to the story. Why should men who choose to live as women be allowed to compete in women’s sports? How is that fair? Those questions are less likely to come to mind if the “right” language is used. At a minimum, why not consistently use the construct “trans woman”? The controversy over gender ideology aside, at least that construct confuses only those with a cursory knowledge of gender ideology.

Maybe it’s time to end sex segregation in sports. If authorities are not going to recognize the biological differences between men and women, then why put women at a distinct competitive disadvantage in divisions that were created specifically for them in order to level the playing field? Just eliminate women’s sports altogether and let individuals compete regardless of sex. Why all the pretense about hormone levels and such? Abandon any pretense to science altogether and just throw individuals into the arena and let the best person win.

Neil deGrasse Tyson recently appeared on The Ben Shapiro Show Sunday Special and suggested to the host that we don’t specify whether it is a male or female sport but rather make divisions based on the “hormonal balances.” This proposition ignores every other difference between males and females noted above, differences that mean that, even if society allowed for this, men would across sports dominate every division based on testosterone.

You could blind observers to the sex and gender of the athletes, but a visitor from another planet could not help but notice that those with XY chromosomes seemed destined to be elite athletes, whereas those with XX chromosomes, in light of the futility of it competing against males, had given up on professional sports altogether. In this case, the science would work itself out whether humans believed in science anymore. In such a world, accepting there really are such things, women would never win. But there is no such thing as women really if being a woman is really only a sociocultural construct men can appropriate.

Why do we segregate men and women in certain areas of life? Is it really on the basis of gender identity, that is how one identifies gender-wise? If gender identity is subjective, which is obviously is, it has no objective reality. But competitive sports is about objective physical reality. It seems, then, that all this is an agenda to push thinking away from the objective scientific materialist basis and towards something resembling a religious mode of thought, an ideology comprised of subjective categories, called “gender identities,” which can be anything at all.

This move not only calls sex and gender into question; it also calls into question the objectivity of natural and physical reality altogether. Thus, more broadly, this is a backwards atavistic enterprise—a desire to leave the Enlightenment, to escape scientific reality. It is a desire for a pre-scientific world, a world of myths and rituals. Why do elites want this?

I have been saying this among my circle of friends for several years now: gender ideology and the emphasis on transition from one thing to another is an expression of transhumanist desire. Transhumanism is a cultural movement that advocates for the use of science and technology to enhance human cognitive and physical abilities beyond what is currently possible. Transhumanists believe that humans can and should strive to overcome the limitations of biology and achieve a post-human future in which people are able to transcend their current abilities and limitations.

Transhumanists advocate for the application of artificial Intelligence, to augment human cognitive abilities, biotechnology, including genetic engineering, gene therapy, and other methods for modifying the genetic makeup of humans to enhance physical or cognitive abilities, and cybernetics, i.e., the integration of machines and technology with the human body to create synthetic beings or enhanced humans. It may seem paradoxical for a movement dependent on science to deny scientific truth, but transhumanism represents not science but scientism, a new religion that pulls from science the stuff from which it builds up its myths and rituals.

What lies at the core of the transhumanist movement is the desire to transcend human being, which is achieved by instilling in young people a type of alienation characterized as self-loathing. Just as the young woman who amputates her breasts, injects testosterone, and allows surgeons to remove her forearm skin to fashion a faux-penis has internalized the loathing of girls and women that inheres in patriarchal relations, young people generally loathe their bodies and seek to transcend them in some fashion. Many young men hate their bodies and wish to move from that body into the body the young man finds beautiful, a body that can grow breast and is allowed to disguise its ugliness in makeup and wigs. The young man also disappears himself into the virtual worlds he finds online. This is why so many of our young people modify their bodies out of recognition—with the medical-industrial complex there to assist (see Disordering Bodies for Disordered Minds; Making Patients for the Medical-Industrial Complex).

At the popular level, gender ideology and transhumanism are thus manifestations of a religious seeking of the transcendent experience. The way out of gender dysphoria—what is sought in its stead—is gender euphoria, the ecstasy of transcending what they were given. The avoidance of puberty is a way to achieve mastery over the body one is born with. Such dysphoria is created by a cause that needs young people to hate their bodies to serve instead as servants in the new world transnationalists are constructing. Pushing male bodies into women’s sports is just one method of disrupting the ordinary understanding of people that thwarts the next steps from being taken.

The elites are coming not only for science and secularism; they’re coming for humanism. What does that mean? Humanism is the ethical and philosophical stance that emphasizes the agency and value of human beings, individually and collectively. Humanism promotes dignity, freedom, welfare, and well-being for humans. Humanism is rooted in the belief that humans have the capacity for creativity, empathy, and reason, and that these qualities can improve our lives and the world around us. At its core, humanism affirms the intrinsic value and worth of human beings, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or other characteristics. It emphasizes the importance of individual freedom, human rights, and social justice, and seeks to promote these values through education and civic engagement.

The elite are preparing the world’s population for incorporation into a transnational corporatist state system by canceling the Enlightenment and overthrowing humanism while incorporating people conditioned to no longer recognize their species being, no longer capable of thinking in the realist terms of natural history, into a technocratic order in which they will

This isn’t only a struggle over whether males who identify as women can compete in women’s sports, which will result in profoundly unfair outcomes for girls and women if finally resolved in favor of those males. This is a struggle over whether scientific truth prevails as a core value of human civilization.

It is, moreover, a struggle over women’s rights—and this requires recognizing that men and women are different. Because of the physical differences between men and women, there are situations where accommodations are necessary to ensure equal access and opportunities for women. In athletic competitions, women require separate categories to account for differences in physical ability and performance. The practice of sex segregation is not to give women an unfair advantage, or a privilege or special right, but rather to create a fair and level playing field where everyone can compete on equal terms.

Physical differences between men and women require accommodations and adjustments in other situations, as well, and the focus of women’s rights advocacy and gender equality efforts concerns removing barriers and creating equal opportunities for all individuals regardless of their sex and gender. Women cannot be regarded as individuals standing equally before the law while ignoring the many differences that exist between women and men. Indeed, sex-related differences must be recognized in order to treat women and men equally. Sex segregation is a recognition of objective reality. Tearing down the institutions that were designed to remove barriers to equality for women by treating males who claim to be women as women denies that objective reality.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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