Atheists for Liberty News - Issue #5
In Defense of Richard Dawkins: Why He is Not Transphobic
By Roling Kaloti
In the past year, biologist and author Richard Dawkins has become the target of heavy criticism regarding his tweets on transgender people. Dawkins, who is best known as one of the “Four Horsemen of the New Atheist movement and for his best-selling books, The God Delusion, The Blind Watchmaker, and Outgrowing God, exposed a contradiction that apparently enraged many people.
On April 12, 2021 Dawkins tweeted “In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black. Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as. Discuss.”
This tweet alone was enough to strip Dawkins of his Humanist of the Year award he won in 1996 from the American Humanist Association, and many activists have publicly criticized him over it, such as the vice president for legal and policy at American Atheists Alison Gill, “Atheist Experience” host Matt Dillahunty, and atheist blogger Hemant Mehta.
A biologist defending biology
This was not the last time Dawkins would offend people for a tweet regarding transgender identity. On November 29, 2021, Dawkins encouraged people to sign a controversial declaration known as the “Declaration on Women’s Sex-based Rights.” This declaration opposes puberty blockers and gender reassignment surgery for kids and teenagers, and “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 declaration also advocates for motherhood to be "exclusively female status," and women and girls have right to physical and “reproductive integrity,” and protect their rights to "fair play in sports," referring to transgender women athletes competing against biological women. This too received heavy criticism, with an article on Religion Dispatches even going as far as to accuse Dawkins of siding with “anti-trans right” for encouraging people to sign the declaration.
Richard Dawkins in no way tolerates or supports discrimination against anyone, no matter if it is based on their religion, sex, gender identity, or race. He was not claiming that gender dysphoria does not exist, nor was he claiming that transgender individuals should not be allowed to identify as the opposite gender.
He made this very clear in a tweet back on October 26, 2015, when he stated: “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.”
In his tweet comparing Rachel Dolezal to people who “choose” to identify as men or women, he was simply pointing out an inconsistency in the left’s thinking when it comes to self-identification. People calling themselves by the opposite gender does not change the fact that gender is biological. Some people, without going through sex change operations or hormone treatments, just change their pronouns and act as if they must be seen as the opposite sex.
There are many examples of this form of identity politics being completely taken advantage of. Chris Chan, a Transgender Youtuber best known for his creation of the character “Sonichu”, was arrested for raping his 79-year-old mother and was being tried as a woman (as “Christine Weston Chandler”), meaning he could have potentially ended up in a female prison, despite the fact that he is biologically a man.
In California, about 300 prison inmates who claimed to be transgender women requested to be sent to female prison. This resulted in pregnancies. The prisons have now offered condoms, birth control, and abortions for inmates.
In the Wi Spa in LA’s Koreatown, a transgender woman exposed his penis in front of the female attendants, causing customers to become upset, even traumatized.
But these examples seem to go ignored by Dawkins’ critics. And what I find to be more confusing is the hate he has been getting for urging people to sign the Women’s Right Declaration. In sports, women who compete against transgender women are at a disadvantage because men are naturally stronger than women.
In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that examined 29 transmen and 46 trans women who started gender affirming hormone treatment while in the US Air Force, they compared pre- and post-hormone fitness test results and compared them to biological men and women. The participants were 26.2 years old, and the trans women did 31% more push-ups and 15% more sit-ups in 1 min and ran 1.5 miles 21% faster than biological women.
After they began taking feminizing hormones, the gap began to close but trans women were still 12% faster. And for transmen, before hormone treatment, they were 43% fewer push-ups and ran 1.5 miles 15% slower than biological men, and after 1 year of treatment, transmen exceeded the average number of sit ups of biological men.
This too, has become a problem for many biological women.
Nearly a decade ago, Trans MMA Fighter Fallon Fox beat female fighter Tamikka Brents, breaking her eye socket and damaging her orbital bone, which required 7 stables. “I've never felt so overpowered ever in my life.” Brents said. “I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because [he] was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor,” she stated. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.”
Transgender MMA fighter Alana McLaughlin, who once served in the army, defeated his biologically female opponent Celine Provost via chokehold in McLaughlin’s debut. This win, despite getting some praise, also sparked a lot of criticism from Twitter users, both men and women (including some from feminist circles), who deemed the fight “unfair.”
Other critics included British Journalist Piers Morgan, who described the fight in an article on the Daily Mail as, “Provost’s punches bounced off McLaughlin like a baby lion’s off its father, and when she was pinned to the ground, she couldn’t move and quickly tapped out.”
And UFC Fighter Sean O’Malley. “I don’t think that’s okay,” O’Malley said. “I just don’t think that’s okay … In just competing in sports. I mean, especially mixed martial arts… It’s like she had testosterone for, who knows, 20 to 30 years of her life and now, I’m a girl,” O’Malley continued. “You could tell that’s a dude. A jacked girl, I mean. Look at her arms.”
Mountain Biker Leia Schneeberger was upset that she had to compete against trans women because of their male bodies. "Why do I have to compete against a male body?" she said. She used to win regularly until a man who had recently transitioned to a woman outcompeted her.
"How did this happen?" asks Schneeberger. "I just want to be able to compete on a fair playing field." But Johanna Harper said that no playing field is fair. Harper is a scientist who advised the Olympics Committee and pointed out that transgender athletes have to take testosterone blockers and, as a result, they lose muscle, strength, and endurance. "Within nine months of my starting hormone therapy," she says, "I was running 12 percent slower."
Trans sprinter Cece Telfer said, “As a trans athlete, I am not a threat to women's sports. Because I am a woman!"
"I have to admit I am somewhat at a loss to explain it," Harper responds. "However, there are hundreds of NCAA championships awarded every year.…The idea that trans women are hugely going to outperform cis women does not hold up to the statistics."
However, Emma Hilton, who co-authored a review on trans women in sports, begged to differ. She found that testosterone blockers don’t close the gap between men and women. "A male could be 40 percent stronger than a female on his legs," she says. "Things like shoulder width don't change when transgender women suppress testosterone. They don't get shorter. Their hearts don't get smaller. They've still got big lungs. The performance gap in weightlifting is over 30 percent…throwing a baseball over 50 percent…when a male punches, 160 percent."
The belief that trans women should be competing against biological women isn’t even popular, as polls show that 67% of Americans voted that they do want sports to remain single sex and that men and women who identify as transgender should not be allowed to compete against biological women. And the fact that the Biden signed a flurry of executive orders allowing transgender athletes in high schools and universities to compete in whatever gender’s sport they identify as has only continued this problem.
And wanting to prevent puberty blockers and sex change operations for children is more than understandable. Please consider the following: In an article on Quillette written by transgender man Todd Whitworth, he briefly details his history as a biological girl, and how he grew up feeling he had more in common with the boys and more boyish toys than with the girls, then not feeling comfortable with his biological sex when puberty hit, and began his transition in 1993 by starting with changing his pronouns. Then continuing the following year with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) at age 21. He explains his discomfort with the way many people nowadays have been labeling their children trans or nonbinary before they even develop sexually and notes how social media and peer groups influence kids’ want for transitioning.
He begins the article by citing a BMJ study that found 85% of kids who believe to have gender dysphoria end up growing comfortably in their biological sex. He also quotes Dr. Michael Laidlaw, who noted the consequences of this gender-affirmative therapy (GAT) are not trivial and include potential sterility, sexual dysfunction, thromboembolic and cardiovascular disease, and malignancy.” and how he even required proper mental health support.
In another Quillette article by a transgender man named Scott Newgent, who expressed the same concerns, he had written:
“I had seven surgeries. I also had a massive pulmonary embolism, a helicopter life-flight ride, an emergency ambulance ride, a stress-induced heart attack, sepsis, a 17-month recurring infection due to using the wrong skin during a (failed) phalloplasty, 16 rounds of antibiotics, three weeks of daily IV antibiotics, the loss of all my hair, (only partially successful) arm reconstructive surgery, permanent lung and heart damage, a cut bladder, insomnia-induced hallucinations—oh and frequent loss of consciousness due to pain from the hair on the inside of my urethra. All this led to a form of PTSD that made me a prisoner in my apartment for a year. Between me and my insurance company, medical expenses exceeded $900,000.”
“A study of 324 medically transitioned adults, based on 30-year longitudinal data. The authors found that completing sex-reassignment surgery was associated with ‘considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric morbidity’ as compared to the general population. Kids who are suicidal before their transition will likely continue to be suicidal, and the most intense ideation often comes years after transitioning. (Transgender folks themselves sometimes speak anecdotally of a seven-to- 10-year trans suicide “itch” observed within the community.)
“For parents, I would say this: It is simply not your right or duty to decide to medically transition your child. Remove that burden from your mind. Medical transition is for adults. The negatives associated with medical transition are vast, and you won’t be the one who lives with the consequences. It will be your child. If your child tells you they will kill themselves if you do not allow them to medically transition (perhaps following a script he or she is provided on Reddit or Tumblr), take them to the hospital so they can be treated for suicidal ideation. Suicidal ideation and seeking transition are separate issues, so separate them.”
These concerns brought up by these two transgender men are not even exaggerations. In this trend called “They-bies,” parents are raising kids as neither gender until they are old enough to choose their own genders. Back in 2018, it was reported that about 220 parents have participated in this trend, such as parents of twins Zyler and Kadyn, whose genders are being kept secret from families and friends until they are old enough to select their own gender.
Here are some more examples:
- On May 15, 2014, when 3 year old Jack told his father that he was unhappy because he was a boy, they decided to raise him as a girl and changed his name to Jackie.
- Kori Doty, a non-binary parent who gave birth to a child, decided to not identify their child Searyl as any gender and raises them until they’re old enough to choose their own gender.
- In LA, parents Jay Brissette and Miguel Ruelas choose to not want their child Azul Ruelas-Brissette to be identified as male or female on their birth certificate because they want Azul to be able to choose their own gender identity.
- Kyl and Brent Myer revealed that they didn't want to reveal the gender of their toddler Zoomer because they wanted them to grow up in a gender-neutral environment so that they could one day choose their own gender. In her blog “Raising Zoomer,” Kyl reasoned “The sex does not tell us anything about the child’s personality, temperament, favorite color, dietary preferences, sense of humor, attitudes toward climate change, or any of their other unique traits.” and “We simply don’t believe that is our decision to make on their behalf. By not revealing their sex, and by treating them in a gender creative way, Z will have the freedom to explore and create their own identity, outside of the restrictions and expectations of traditional gender norms.”
- In the documentary “Transhood,” 4-year-old Phoenix, who is biologically male, was told by his parents to announce that he is now a female and his preferred pronouns are she and her. But by age 7, he was comfortable with his biological sex and said he now identifies as a boy. His mother also seemed to have a change of heart, and now claimed transgenderism is a mental disorder.
This type of parenting is putting kids’ mental health at a serious risk. Do any of these kids even know what the opposite gender’s genitals look like? Just look at situations like David Reimer, who was raised as a girl since he was born due to a botched surgery as an experiment to prove if it was nature or nurture that makes his gender. He grew up tearing dresses, preferring boys' toys, and was teased at school for his masculine appearance. He had complained to his teachers that he even felt male.
When he was 14, he was finally told the truth about his sex, and eventually got a sex change. At the age of 39, he committed suicide. According to Journalist John Colapinto, who wrote a book on Reimer titled “As Nature Made Him,” stated in an article on Slate: “David’s blighted childhood was never far from his mind. Just before he died, he talked to his wife about his sexual ‘inadequacy,’ his inability to be a true husband. Jane tried to reassure him. But David was already heading for the door.”
Or look at what happened in Clay County. Parents of a 12-year-old student from Clay County, Florida decided to sue the school after their daughter attempted suicide two days in a row after she had a meeting about “gender identity confusion” with the school counselor. This information was withheld from the parents until after her attempts.
“We met with the principal, the assistant principal and the police officer, and the counselor who informed us that our 12-year-old daughter, this is an elementary-schooler, had tried to commit suicide at school by hanging herself twice in two days," said the Father Wendell Perez. The school counselor told him that the suicide attempts were because of her gender identity issues. "I asked why my daughter had tried to commit suicide. She [the counselor] said because of her identity issues. I asked what those were and she said, 'well, you know, she wants to be called this, and she wants these pronouns,' and she said, 'because she knows that you guys are not going to accept her because of your religious beliefs,'" said the Mother Maria Perez. “The school counselor went so far as to encourage and call our daughter by a fictitious male name and male pronouns in front of the other students, causing a pattern of bullying against our daughter,” said Wendell Perez.
Now, let me address one last topic: puberty blockers. Opposing them for children is by no means “transphobic,” in fact, it proves Dawkins’s humanism. According to three medical professionals (Dr. Paul W. Hruz, a professor at Washington University School of Medicine; Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, a scholar in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a professor at Arizona State University; and Dr. Paul R. McHugh, university distinguished service professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), in their co-authored article which peer-reviewed 50 studies on kids with gender dysphoria, they outlined four major problems with puberty blockers for kids.
1) Puberty blockers “may drive some children to persist in identifying as transgender when they might otherwise have, as they grow older, found their gender to be aligned with their sex.” They continued, “Gender identity for children is elastic (that is, it can change over time) and plastic (that is, it can be shaped by forces like parental approval and social conditions).” And, as a result, “the increasing use of gender-affirming care does cause children to persist with their identification as the opposite sex, then many children who would otherwise not need ongoing medical treatment would be exposed to hormonal and surgical interventions.”
2) Puberty blockers remains to be experimental, as they note: “Reading these various guidelines gives the impression that there is a well-established scientific consensus about the safety and efficacy of the use of puberty blocking agents for children with gender dysphoria, and that parents of such children should think of it as a prudent and scientifically proven treatment option. But whether blocking puberty is the best way to treat gender dysphoria in children remains far from settled and it should be considered not a prudent option with demonstrated effectiveness but a drastic and experimental measure. Experimental medical treatments for children must be subject to especially intense scrutiny, since children cannot provide legal consent to medical treatment of any kind (parents or guardians must consent for their child to receive treatment), to say nothing of consenting to become research subjects for testing an unproven therapy. In the case of gender dysphoria, however, the safety and efficacy of puberty-suppressing hormones is not well founded on evidence … Whether puberty suppression is safe and effective when used for gender dysphoria remains unclear and unsupported by rigorous scientific evidence.”
3) There is no evidence of them being reversible. “There are virtually no published reports, even case studies, of adolescents withdrawing from puberty-suppressing drugs, and then resuming the normal pubertal development typical for their sex.” They continue, “If a child does not develop certain characteristics at age 12 because of a medical intervention, then his or her developing those characteristics at age 18 is not a ‘reversal,’ since the sequence of development has already been disrupted.”
And 4) “Puberty suppression hormones prevent the development of secondary sex characteristics, arrest bone growth, decrease bone accretion, prevent full organization and maturation of the brain, and inhibit fertility. Cross-gender hormones increase a child’s risk for coronary disease and sterility. Oral estrogen, which is administered to gender dysphoric boys, may cause thrombosis, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, hypertriglyceridemia, elevated blood pressure, decreased glucose tolerance, gallbladder disease, prolactinoma, and breast cancer. Similarly, testosterone administered to gender dysphoric girls may negatively affect their cholesterol; increase their homocysteine levels (a risk factor for heart disease); cause hepatotoxicity and polycythemia (an excess of red blood cells); increase their risk of sleep apnea; cause insulin resistance; and have unknown effects on breast, endometrial and ovarian tissues. Finally, girls may legally obtain a mastectomy at sixteen, which carries with it its own unique set of future problems, especially because it is irreversible.”
Whether Dawkins had all these specifically in mind or not, I can’t claim to know. But all I’m asking is for people to consider everything that I have said. If transgender women are at an unfair advantage due to their biology, if men get an easier way to sexually harass women by simply changing their pronouns, if kids and teens are being psychologically harmed by getting preached gender identity politics or getting sex changes when they’re not even old enough to know what sex is, why would anyone who deems themselves a humanist not want these topics to be addressed? Why would they not encourage people to sign a declaration that could assist in preventing some of these issues? Why should they be defamed by “social justice” activists for simply telling people to discuss certain topics?
Music Review - The Sound of Atheism
By Max Carlisle
Released the same year as the collapse of the Soviet Union, “Tell Me Why” from Genesis' 1991 album We Can't Dance poses many of the classic philosophical questions regarding “the problem of evil”. The lyrics highlight many of the problems the world was facing then, and now, and closes the chorus of the song with the statement: “It seems like there's no one listening”. The question of “if there's a God, why does he stand by while so many innocent people suffer needlessly?” has been asked for ages, but it has perhaps never been asked so poetically and melodically than how Phil Collins asked it in “Tell Me Why”. The song ultimately comes to an end without answering the questions asked, but the implication is clear: A god that does not interact with the world is indistinguishable from no god at all.
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The article, In Defense of Richard Dawkins: Why He is Not Transphobic
By Roling Kaloti, is informative and relevant.
I was expelled from Friends of the Satanic Temple because I said it would make more sense for trans people to ask others to use their preferred pronouns rather than demanding it. The friends I had in the group declined to continue our friendship.