Featured Image
 Kanda Saelee/Shutterstock

(LifeSiteNews) — At the current slow but steady pace, the New York Times will be ready to openly take on the transgender movement in a half-decade or so. In 2022, they finally published a report detailing how puberty blockers can badly damage minors; in 2023, they admitted that schools were “transitioning” children without their parents’ knowledge; in 2024, they published a damning report on “detransitioners” and the side effects of “sex changes.”

That was followed up on April 3 with a column taking aim at one of the transgender movement’s central assertions titled “The Problem With Saying ‘Sex Assigned At Birth’” by MIT professor Alex Byrne, author of Trouble With Gender: Sex Facts, Gender Fictions, and Carole K. Hooven, an evolutionary biologist, associate in the Harvard psychology department, and author of T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone That Dominates and Divides Us. They begin by noting that the phrase has, overnight, become ubiquitous:

Instead of asking for a person’s sex, some medical and camp forms these days ask for ‘sex assigned at birth’ or ‘assigned sex’ (often in addition to gender identity). The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association endorse this terminology; its use has also exploded in academic articles. The Cleveland Clinic’s online glossary of diseases and conditions tells us that the ‘inability to achieve or maintain an erection’ is a symptom of sexual dysfunction, not in ‘males,’ but in ‘people assigned male at birth.’

In short, this shift in language has been real, discernable, and imposed from the top down. Byrne and Hooven note that the “trend began around a decade ago,” and that it is intended to “soften” what might seem to those identifying as “transgender” and “non-binary” as “a harsh biological reality” and that the new terminology can “function to signal solidarity with trans and nonbinary people [sic], as well as convey the radical idea that our traditional understanding of sex is outdated.” All of that is true, although transgender activists have been pretending that the shift in language is about “following the science” rather than “coddling delusions.”

Byrne and Hooven oppose this shift, and their reasons are worth quoting at length – not least because they were actually published in the New York Times:

The shift to ‘sex assigned at birth’ may be well intentioned, but it is not progress. We are not against politeness or expressions of solidarity, but ‘sex assigned at birth’ can confuse people and creates doubt about a biological fact when there shouldn’t be any. Nor is the phrase called for because our traditional understanding of sex needs correcting – it doesn’t. This matters because sex matters. Sex is a fundamental biological feature with significant consequences for our species, so there are costs to encouraging misconceptions about it.

Sex matters for health, safety and social policy and interacts in complicated ways with culture. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to experience harmful side effects from drugs, a problem that may be ameliorated by reducing drug doses for females. Males, meanwhile, are more likely to die from Covid-19 and cancer, and commit the vast majority of homicides and sexual assaults. We aren’t suggesting that “assigned sex” will increase the death toll. However, terminology about important matters should be as clear as possible.

More generally, the interaction between sex and human culture is crucial to understanding psychological and physical differences between boys and girls, men and women. We cannot have such understanding unless we know what sex is, which means having the linguistic tools necessary to discuss it. The Associated Press cautions journalists that describing women as ‘female’ may be objectionable because ‘it can be seen as emphasizing biology,’ but sometimes biology is highly relevant. The heated debate about transgender women [sic] participating in female sports is an example; whatever view one takes on the matter, biologically driven athletic differences between the sexes are real.

All of that is true and should be uncontroversial, but of course it is not. The authors note that transgender activists have been censorious about this, attempting to police the new boundaries of language they themselves have just created. This is especially problematic, they observe, because: “Saying that someone was ‘assigned female at birth’ suggests that the person’s sex is at best a matter of educated guesswork. ‘Assigned’ can connote arbitrariness – as in ‘assigned classroom seating’ – and so ‘sex assigned at birth’ can also suggest that there is no objective reality behind ‘male’ and ‘female,’ no biological categories to which the words refer.”

Byrne and Hooven essentially advocate that we begin acting like adults – the gender ideology spearheaded by Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, they observe, is mostly nonsense. Their position, Byrne and Hooven note, “tacitly assumes that humans are exempt from the natural order,” which we are not: “Despite the confusion sown by some scholars, we can be confident that the sex binary is not a human invention.” These phrases are simply an attempt to “infuse” conversation with a “sociopolitical agenda” in the view of Byrne and Hooven, it is time to return to shared, non-ideological language that reflects concrete reality and avoids loading terms and phrases with ideological premises.

READ: Philosopher Michel Foucault, founder of ‘wokeness,’ may have been pedophile rapist

Byrne and Hooven are urgently correct here. In order to have a genuine public debate about transgender ideology and the horrors being perpetrated by the transgender movement, we must be able to speak clearly about the nature of reality and the counter claims of the transgender movement. For a decade, the transgender movement has successfully rigged the debate by changing the language we use – “sex assigned at birth,” “gender-affirming care,” or, for that matter, “transgender woman.” The language we use contains their premises, and we must reject it. Many of us have been making that case for years. I, for one, did not expect to read it in the New York Times.

Featured Image

Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.