A transgender rights organization decided against publishing an article on a “biological” theory of transgenderism after backlash from activists.
TransLucent, a U.K.-based transgender advocacy group, released a statement on Tuesday saying it would no longer be publishing a “groundbreaking article” that claims “being trans is a biological condition.” TransLucent had previously announced its plans to publish the article on Friday, December 16, in a now-deleted Twitter post. After receiving hundreds of critical comments, the advocacy group reversed course. Many expressed apprehension that the search to find a biological basis for transgenderism was misguided and could be exploited (with eugenics mentioned as a top concern).
“On Sunday, we posted that we would publish an article on Friday regarding being trans is a ‘biological condition’ – the phrasing of the tweet was poor,” said TransLucent. “The interest has been overwhelming, but many differing concerns have also been raised, and, as a responsible advocacy organization we have listened to all of those concerns. Consequently, we have decided not to publish.”
TransLucent went on to apologize for any “disappointment or distress” the group had caused by merely announcing the article, and reaffirmed its commitment to “fight on.”
Eirnin, a London-based transsexual activist who was able to preview the article, vocally opposed its publication.
“This tweet has been causing panic among trans people,” Eirnin tweeted on Tuesday, accompanied by a screenshot of TransLucent’s initial announcement of the article. “I have been able [to] get early access to the piece – it is, quite frankly, inconsequential and has very little standing.”
“I don’t think it should be published a) because it’s unhelpful and b) it’s based on bad, debunked science,” Eirnin continued. “I have given the org involved extensive feedback and strongly encouraged that they do not publish this piece.”
Eirnin said that the article was not peer-reviewed nor written by an expert in the field but was merely a short letter that combined several theories of “brain sex” based on “debunked science.”
In the 1990s, when researchers endeavored to find a biological mechanism for homosexuality, there were concerns that it might lead to eugenicist efforts to eradicate same-sex attraction from the gene pool. More recently, some transgender activists have expressed similar fears. As the author of a 2018 Daily Beast article put it, “The hunt for the ‘transgender brain’ is just as fraught as the quest to find a ‘gay gene.'”
“If published, the article would have been used to hurt us, but carried no valuable or real weight for the trans community,” said Eirnin. “It provided no groundbreaking science, would not be considered reputable, and I could not see any value in sharing these ideas in this way.”
Some scientists were anticipating the article’s publication, like Samuel Stagg, a U.K.-based Ph.D. student of Neuroimmunology.
“Genuinely cannot wait for this article!” Stagg tweeted on Monday. Stagg, whose Master’s degree was in Molecular Neuroscience at the University of Bristol, has developed an interest in “brain sex” arguments, especially as they pertain to the debate surrounding “gender identity.”
“The paper was a review citing the same junk science suggesting gender dysphoria is caused by a brain belonging to that of the opposite sex, a claim repeatedly stated by gender activists,” Stagg told The Daily Wire.
In recent years, researchers have studied the brains of transgender individuals for insight into their condition. Some have even concluded that the brain structure of transgender individuals more closely resembles their chosen gender identity rather than their natal sex. Stagg contends that these studies failed to account for important confounding variables, such as sexuality.
“There are two main types of transgender persons (homosexual and heterosexual),” Stagg explained. “The homosexual sub-group show brains skewed along the male-female dimension, however, this is predominantly due to their co-occurring homosexuality. When we scan the brains of the heterosexual type, we find they are more typical for their natal sex.”
“This is because sexual orientation correlates with a brain that is sex-atypical (which makes sense given the animal data),” said Stagg.
Historically, studies of the brain found that the “brains of gay people resemble those of the opposite sex.” In other words, a gay male may have some features of the brain that resemble a straight female’s brain. Because many transgender individuals are same-sex attracted, it is essential for researchers who study the transgender brain to consider that the evidence for “gender identity” may actually be homosexuality.
“[Researchers] are currently in the process of a higher powered study separating the transgender groups (with larger samples) into heterosexual and homosexual sub-groups,” Stagg continued. “Their hypothesis (and mine) is that only the homosexual cohort will be skewed towards female.”
One might think that transgender activists would celebrate a biological explanation to validate their “existence.” But as Manhattan Institute fellow Leor Sapir explains, the transgender community, which on the surface presents as a unified front, is divided into opposing philosophical factions: those propelled by civil rights organizations who seek to prove that being transgender is an “innate, immutable trait” for political and legal reasons, and the queer theorists who question the basis of scientific authority.
“What’s known as gender ideology, this kind of comprehensive theory of what makes humans male or female is rooted in these two totally contradictory philosophical positions,” Sapir told The Daily Wire. “Queer theory, on the one hand, and a kind of gender identity as biological essentialism on the other.”
After 2015, when same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, civil rights and gay rights organizations that would have otherwise had to shutter their doors pivoted to championing “trans rights” to retain donors and secure funding. Sapir wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the rapid proliferation of the “transgender rights movement” and its efforts to redefine biological sex as “gender identity,” or as it’s sometimes called “neurological sex” or “brain sex.”
“It’s not obvious why there would have to be an argument for ‘brain sex’ in order to give people the rights to identify as they please,” Sapir continued. “But in the American civil rights tradition, if you can convince a judge that being transgender is like being black, then you can tap into this entire body of judicial precedent and civil rights laws that immediately applies and gives you all the policies you want.”