News and Analysis

Woke Scholars Call For Anthropologists To Stop Classifying Human Remains By Gender And Race

This information is vital to criminal investigations and understanding ancient civilizations.
The Killing Fields, Human Skulls at Choeung Ek Genocide Memorial, Cambodia. (Photo by: Bob Henry/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Bob Henry/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Woke activists are calling for anthropologists to stop classifying human remains as “male” or “female” as well as by racial ancestry.

Archeologists and anthropologists, including those who specialize in criminal forensics, frequently use information about human remains, such as the size and shape of the bones, to determine the gender or race of the deceased individual. This information is often vital to criminal investigations as well as important to understanding ancient civilizations.

Now though, some woke scholars say the time for classifying human remains by gender and race is gone since we cannot know how the deceased person identified, even if they lived hundreds of years ago.

One group called the Trans Doe Task Force says it actually maintains its own database of missing and unidentified people who the group thinks could be transgender or “gender-variant” because most databases don’t allow you to compare missing to unidentified “across different binary sex categories.”

The group says it combs databases of the missing and unidentified looking for “contextual clues such as decedents wearing clothing culturally coded to a gender other than their assigned sex.”

The transgender-led non-profit says it aims to “explore ways in which current standards in forensic human identification do a disservice to people who do not clearly fit the gender binary.”

Last year, a study posited that the medieval remains of one individual suggested they could be non-binary since the body was probably male, but the person was buried in feminine clothes. However, that individual likely had XXY chromosomes, or Klinefelter syndrome, which can cause low testosterone.

One professor actually argued earlier this year that there are actually “no neat divisions between physically or genetically ‘male’ or ‘female’ individuals.”

University of Kansas Associate Professor of Anthropology Jennifer Raff made her eyebrow-raising case for the idea in her February book “Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas.”

The idea of a gender binary was “imposed by Christian colonizers,” she claims.

A self-reported master’s archaeology student in Canada called it “bullshit” that archaeologists assign gender to human remains based on their biology.

“My trans+non-binary friends: you might know the argument that the archaeologists who find your bones one day will assign you the same gender as you had at birth, so regardless of whether you transition, you can’t escape your assigned sex. Let me tell you why that’s bullshit,” tweeted Emma Palladino.

Palladino went on to say that archaeologists still make “assumptions” about a person’s gender and identity, and there’s “absolutely more work to be done” to fix that, saying the concepts of sex, gender, and identity are “culturally and spatially relative.”

“Labelling remains ‘male’ or ‘female’ is rarely the end goal of any excavation, anyway. The ‘bioarchaeology of the individual’ is what we aim for, factoring in absolutely everything we discover about a person into a nuanced and open-ended biography of their life,” Palladino said.

“And even IF some sh***y archaeologist in the future misgenders you, that will never change who you were, regardless of whether you’ve medically or socially transitioned, regardless of anything. You are you, a dignified human, and always will be, even in death,” she concluded

Some archeology scholars have criticized the push to disregard biological sex in classifying human skeletons.

San Jose State archaeology Professor Elizabeth Weiss told The College Fix the movement amounts to “ideologically-motivated fudging.”

Weiss also told the outlet that, “sexing skeletal remains is a critical skill in forensics and any diminishing of this skill will negatively impact criminal investigations, denying the victims and their families justice.”

Meanwhile, some activists are focused on erasing race from human remains classifications, rather than biological gender.

A January study claimed forensic anthropologists have not taken into account the “racist context” of the American criminal justice system.

Beyond that, trying to figure out the ancestry of human remains might hurt efforts to identify them because of “entrenched racial biases,” claimed the study by Elizabeth DiGangi of Binghamton University and Jonathan Bethard of the University of South Florida.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Woke Scholars Call For Anthropologists To Stop Classifying Human Remains By Gender And Race