Bye bye, binary: thoughts on Teen Vogue’s latest video
The latest in science denial comes in the form of a video from Teen Vogue: “5 Misconceptions About Sex and Gender.” It features intersex individuals, trans activists, and a bioethicist who go through and “debunk” the idea that a binary metric for male and female has a scientific basis in reality. They argue that parts of the body are assigned meaning based on social, political and ideological factors.
The initial claim is that the human body is not exclusively male or female and that intersex people are proof of this. But how large is this group of people? An intersex woman featured in the video claims 1.7% of the population. However this percentage is misleading. I spoke with evolutionary biologist Dr Colin Wright, who explains that the 1.7% cited takes into account a number of conditions that are not intersex in a clinically relevant sense. These conditions include Klinefelter Syndrome, in which an individual is born with an extra X chromosome, and Turner Syndrome, which occurs when an individual is born with a missing or damaged X chromosome. Despite these differences, individuals with either condition clearly present as either male or female. This figure is reduced to 0.02% when we make the definition of intersex have clinical relevance. Clinical relevance typically requires anatomical ambiguity or a mismatch between genotypic and phenotypic presentation.
This is a fraction of the population. It seems as though the definition of biological sex is being rewritten in order to include the exception to the rule, to make intersex people part of the norm. However as the video plays out, trans people are brought into the mix. At this point the goal of Teen Vogue becomes clear; state that sex is not binary, show some intersex folks telling some inflated statistics, and move on to trans people categorizing trans men as biological males and trans women as biological females. Intersex people exist, therefore biological sex does not, and your biology can be whatever sex you want it to be.
I asked Dr Wright for a very specific definition of biological sex. From what I have heard, I imagined it would have to do with what specific gametes an individual produces; sperm or eggs. At the population level the categories of male and female are indeed separated by gametes, confirms Wright. But when looking at the individual level, (which we are for the purposes of this article), he explains,“We need to account for the fact that errors of development often occur, and that not every individual will produce functional gametes. That doesn’t mean that these individuals don’t have a sex. They do, since they have proceeded to some degree or totally down one of two developmental pathways. There are also many reasons why someone may not produce gametes. They can be pre-pubertal; they can have a developmental disorder that results in sterility; they can lose their capability in some sort of accident or medical condition; or, in women, they can be postmenopausal. These individuals still belong to one of two sexes. If your car breaks down or runs out of gas, it’s still a car.”
Wanting to simplify, I asked if a working definition of biological sex could be described as “potential” for gamete production, coupled with chromosomes (XX/XY), and secondary sex characteristics taken together as a whole?His answer? It’s complicated. It turns out that the Y chromosome typically contains the male determining SRY gene. However, there are rare cases where this gene is transferred to the X chromosome, resulting in an XX individual with a functional SRY gene that is male. The SRY gene will then promote regular male development even though it is found on an X chromosome. Again this is extremely rare, but worth noting to help us understand the complexity we are dealing with. Wright’s concluding thoughts on the matter are as follows: “At the end of the day, whether someone is a male or female has to do with which developmental pathway have they started down regarding primary sexual characteristics (i.e. reproductive anatomy)”
Is the definition of biological sex complicated when you delve deep into the scientific definition? To quote the video, “simple binary breaks down when you really get into the nitty gritty.” Yes, after my interview with Dr Wright, I think it is fair to say that it is complex. But a complicated explanation of biological sex does not negate the truth that sex is ultimately binary, determined in utero and how an individual progresses along one of two developmental pathways.
I have no problem with trans people. I believe they want to live their lives, and find a place in this world. I simply do not think that denying the science of biological sex, and indoctrinating teens in the process, will bring the closure they seek. It seems that those who inhabit the space of gender studies believe that redefining certain definitions will solve the world’s sexism and bigotry problems.
Yes, if everything truly is socially constructed, and we rewrite these assigned meanings as those in the video suggest, people could alter these negative attitudes. But we are biologically evolved beings, products of nature as well as nurture. Words matter, but only to a point. A rose by any other name is still a biological rose with immutable characteristics that cannot be altered with a simple definition change.
Tobacco continues to be Canada’s leading preventable cause of premature death and disease. According to Newswire, the LGBTQ+ communities 18-24 year olds are more likely to use tobacco than heterosexuals who are of the same age.
It is currently National Non-Smoking week. An investment of $2,840,767 was announced by Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health. The investment is in support of the All Together Now! project by the University of Toronto.
“This week marks National Non-Smoking Week in Canada, and I want to encourage the thousands of Canadians who will take their first steps toward quitting smoking.” said The honourable Patty Hajdu.
“The projects we are supporting today like Toronto’s All Together Now! will better help them as they make this positive change in their lives – and encourage others to follow in the same footsteps.”
The University has teamed up with the Canadian Cancer Society as well as Egale Canada and they are all working with LGBTQ+ community members. The goal of the project is to help LGBTQ+ members become healthier people by quitting smoking.
The project will support people around Thunder Bay and Toronto in Ontario and Montréal, Quebec. It is directed at approximately 114,000 people.
All Together Now! works through events, social media messaging, social media influencers and other online methods. They will also provide resources such as therapy.
The University of Toronto will receive about $1.3 million from the Government of Canada with Health Canada’s Substance abuse program. The money will be split up over 36 months for the Tobacco Research Unit.
“Smoking in LGBTQ+ communities is associated with stigma and related stress experienced by many individuals. Working from within LGBTQ+ communities, All Together Now! will build strong interventions to change the social climate for smoking and provide tailored quit-smoking support.” said Professor Robert Schwartz from Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.
“We are grateful to the Government of Canada for making this vital work possible.”
It is the aim of Canada’s Tobacco Strategy to drop the use of tobacco to below 5 percent by the year 2035. About $330 million was federally invested throughout 5 years to move toward the goal.
Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu has attempted to clarify her stance on social issues to CTV’s Question Period.
During an interview in the program, Gladu stated that “she would stand up for the rights of all Canadians. The LGBT community has made clear that they want leaders and the prime minister to march and indicate that they support their rights, and I’m going to support the rights of every Canadian.”
Gladu then went on to express her support, once more, for same sex marriage and gay pride parades—saying that she would be marching in one on June 27. “It’s important that every part of the community feels loved and accepted, and I think as Canadians that we should stop dividing ourselves and pitting one group against another, we have to stand up for everyone’s rights and freedoms.”
When Gladu was asked about the abortion debate, she said that she was pro-life, “although, at this stage in my life the chances of me getting pregnant is basically zero.” Despite this, Gladu made it clear that abortion services should be available to all Canadians.
Gladu’s position on abortion and LGBT rights will starkly differentiate herself from Andrew Scheer, who often faced scrutiny for his less-than-clear position on these issues. Scheer, for instance, refused to participate in gay pride marches. Like Gladu, Scheer was also a pro-lifer, which due to poor management, sky-rocketed into a hot campaign topic.
Gladu announced her bid to become the leader of the Conservative Party on Jan. 9. She is, so far, the only female candidate in the leadership contest.
The B.C. Court of Appeal has delivered a verdict today regarding the right of a child to receive treatment for gender dysphoria without parental consent.
The case first came to public attention in January 2019 when the father was told that his child, who was 14-years-old at the time, could begin hormone treatment without parental approval under BC’s Infant Act. The father sought a court injunction to prevent the doctors from commencing therapy. Since then, the names of all individuals involved in the case have been put under publication ban, including the names of the doctors who were involved in the diagnosis and treatment of the youth.
Previous court decisions granted the child the ability to proceed with hormone treatment to conform to the male gender with which the child identifies. Additionally, the father was subject to a protection order that prevented him from referring to his child as female or discussing the case publicly.
The father violated that court order by continuing to give media interviews, providing identifying documents, and continuing to call the child his daughter. The court was asked to refuse the father further audience because of this breach but declined to do so “without in any way countenancing [the father’s] alleged conduct in this litigation.”
There were numerous intervenors in the appeal, most of whom supported the child’s position. Because the child had already begun hormone therapy, the Court of Appeal was asked to consider the issue moot. While the judges agreed that it was not appropriate to reverse the earlier decision on medical treatment, since irreversible physical changes had already taken effect, they would rule on the issues to provide guidance for future cases.
BC’s Chief Justice Bauman, and Justice Fisher wrote the unanimous decision, with Justice Groberman concurring.
The previous order, restraining the father from continuing to deny the chosen gender of his child and declaring his actions to be a form of “family violence,” was dismissed. The trial judge was deemed to have made “bald assertions” in granting the order which went beyond consideration of “the best interests of the child.”
In granting the father success, overturning the protection order, the court said “[w]e do not see authority to declare certain conduct as ‘deemed’ to be family violence for either present or future applications.”
In regards to granting the youth the right to continue treatment, the verdict confirms that BC’s Infant Act allows a child to make informed medical decisions without parental consent. That said, the Court of Appeal found that the trial judge went beyond the scope of the issue of whether or not the medical consent was valid.
The judge had made declarations about specific medical issues that were best left to the appropriate physicians and caregivers.
In this case, the Court of Appeal found that the child had been vigorously assessed to confirm the appropriate treatment and to verify that the child was capable of understanding the consent form and consequences of pursuing that treatment. As such, they confirmed the order granting the child the ability to continue receiving the chosen medical care.
On the question of whether or not the father had engaged in “family violence,” the court rejected the granting of a protection order, calling it “unfortunate.”
They further stated, “it is our view that raising the issue of family violence in the context of this case caused the parties to become increasingly polarized in their positions, thus exacerbating the conflict and raising the stakes in the litigation. We see none of this to be in [the child’s] best interests.”
Most significantly, the court determined that, without minimizing the pain the child felt at being misgendered, the father was “entitled to his views and he is entitled to communicate those views.” While the judges found the father’s conduct to be “disrespectful” and “hurtful” they did not find it to be a form of violence.
Because the case involved the relationship between a parent and child, the court felt that a conduct order, rather than a protection order, was necessary. If the father fails to comply it could affect the outcome of future family court applications.
Nevertheless, it was determined that the father “has the right to his opinion and belief about [his child’s] gender identity and choice of medical treatment.” The conduct order restricts the ability to discuss his child’s dysphoria with media outlets or in other public venues but allows him the ability to maintain his personal beliefs about the child’s medical condition.
The facts of this case revolve around the father’s parental role, which is why the conduct order under the Family Law Act was deemed necessary. The father was criticized and urged to engage with the medical professionals overseeing the child’s care, something he had failed to do in the past.
The ruling will give guidance for other cases involving disputes between parents and children regarding gender dysphoria. Primarily, the verdict says that medical professionals have an obligation to thoroughly assess what treatment is in a child’s best interests and an equal responsibility to ensure the child fully understands the consequences of treatment before proceeding without parental consent.
In this case, all judges involved in the numerous legal disputes came to the conclusion that the physicians had acted competently.
Allegations have surfaced regarding Tiffany Michell Moore, who rose to infamy and internet memehood after her shocking public freakout in GameStop about a year ago. Many remember the meltdown Moore had when misgendered by a cashier in the gaming store. The self-proclaimed “trans activist” was met with much online backlash, even from the trans community who widely agreed that the misgendering was surely accidental, as Moore objectively appeared as male. The video has been shared millions of times across the internet.
Since then, Moore has become somewhat of an e-celeb, and the social media posts that have followed the GameStop incident have many concerned for the safety of the 4th grade son in the picture. Moore has proclaimed to the world via Instagram that her son is also transgender, referring to him as a “gentlethem” and “non- binary.” It’s unclear if a medical transition is in the expected future, but the possibility is unnerving.
Other points of criticism over Moore’s posts include unabashed boasting about drug use, smoking amidst her son’s asthma and respiratory issues, as well as posing for a photo with her son brandishing a fetish collar. Her alleged boyfriend also appears in the photo. Many claim that most of the videos posted on Moore’s Instagram reveal her to be under the influence of drugs.
Moore’s criminal record is quite long, including arrest for armed robbery. Her plethora of mugshots can be seen across the internet, all of which were taken before her alleged transition and GameStop freakout. The mother of Moore’s child doesn’t appear to be much more of a fit parent either, having no custody over their son and allegedly struggling with meth and a lengthy criminal record herself.
Some are even questioning the validity of Moore’s transition entirely, with many citing that there is little to no physical change between before and after photos. Speculations are going around that being “trans” is moreso a fetish for Moore, keeping in mind the fetish collar and repeated social media posts referring to her own genitals as a “girldick.” This is a common phrase used by crossdressers and fetishists. While there is nothing wrong with a person safely engaging in their own sexual interests, it is highly problematic to play those fetishes out in public or near a child.
I’ve chronicled these allegations in further detail in a new video on my YouTube channel, which will be embedded below. I sincerely hope that things are not as bad as they seem and that the child involved in this situation is not in the danger that is seemingly apparent in these posts. I also hope that similar to the reaction of condemnation that the trans community had for Jessica Yaniv, there is an outcry that this type of behaviour is not representative of trans people. Again, similarly to the Jessica Yaniv story, public figures within the community such as this serve to only reinforce negative and harmful stereotypes that have plagued not only trans people but LGBT people as a whole for centuries.
Moore responded late Tuesday afternoon to the allegations in an Instagram video, saying “How dare you criticize my parenting?”