The famous biologist Richard Dawkins follows the science and rejects the transgender illusion

The famous biologist Richard Dawkins follows the science and rejects the transgender illusion


“An atheist is an egalitarian who, to avoid the absurdity of affirming that Man is God, commits the absurdity of declaring that God does not exist.”

This description, provided by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in his Revolution and Counter-Revolution, aptly applies to the famous biologist Richard Dawkins. Dr. Dawkins is a self-described “man of the left” and the author of many books that promote his atheistic sentiments, including The God Delusion and Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide.

The Gender Delusion

Under normal circumstances, his political positions would never register with conservatives. However, he appears to have staked out a position against the tyrants behind the “transsexual” movement. An even greater surprise is that his reasoning makes sense.

This development reveals the rift between the left’s moderate and radical factions. The forward movement of “transsexualism” is leaving some people behind. For many, like Dr. Dawkins, the “transsexual” position is a bridge too far.

Dr. Dawkins’s podcast, The Poetry of Reality, recently featured a discussion with Helen Joyce, the author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality is quite remarkable in expressing this division. The episode’s title is simple and accurate — “The Gender Delusion.”

Two Anti-Transsexual Leftists

He begins the podcast with an apologia to his subscribers.

“I don’t have a religion, but if I had one, it would be the religion of reality.”

Dr. Dawkins spells out his primary position about three minutes into the podcast.

“Sex really is binary. There is no question about it. You are either male or female. It is absolutely clear.” He then discusses ways that sex can be determined scientifically, like gamete size and chromosomes. Dr. Dawkins elaborated. “So, it is to me, as a biologist, distinctly weird that people can simply declare, ‘I am a woman….’ That seems to me to be a strange distortion of language, because language is useful as something to express your thoughts clearly. And so, I’m bewildered by it.”

His interviewee, Helen Joyce, has had a singular career. Her college training and early career was in mathematics. She later became the education correspondent for the British journal, The Economist. She left that position to become the director of advocacy for an organization called “Sex Matters.” In 2021, she wrote the book that sparked her appearance on Dr. Dawkins’s podcast, Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality.

Like Dr. Dawkins. Dr. Joyce takes a strong position against the transgender ideology and those who promote it. She blames those who purposely peddle questionable materials that serve their ideological goals.

“There are these external providers, who are basically lobby groups, that write unbelievably inaccurate materials and then sell them to schools.”

In-School Propaganda

The result is mass confusion amongst many school administrators, teachers, counselors and—of course—students. Some officials might be ideologues themselves, but more simply lack the moral and intellectual background to know what it is.

That confusion is not limited to school personnel. The exact status of “transsexuals” is a matter of deep concern for the entire feminist movement, and the disagreements run deep.

The controversy over the biologically male University of Pennsylvania swimmer who calls himself Lia Thomas is a case in point. His stunning performance as a member of the women’s team has prompted many objections from his teammates.

However, the feminist ideology that many of these young women accept leaves them deeply divided. On the one hand, to exclude Thomas from the team and its events seems—well—exclusionary, a major sin among leftists. On the other hand, allowing his participation defeats the reason that women’s sports exist in the first place.

A Novel Issue—But Not a New One

Such issues are not new. According to The New Yorker, it erupted at the 1973 West Coast Lesbian Conference in Los Angeles. The keynote speaker, Robin Morgan, the author of the 1970 anthology Sisterhood is Powerful, decried the idea that a biological man should ever be accepted as female.

“I will not call a male ‘she’; thirty-two years of suffering in this androcentric society, and of surviving, have earned me the title “woman”; one walk down the street by a male transvestite, five minutes of his being hassled (which he may enjoy), and then he dares, he dares to think he understands our pain? No, in our mothers’ names and in our own, we must not call him sister.”

Like everything else, this position carries an acronym—TERFs—Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. To them, these confused men who wish they were women still possess the “privilege” that comes from being born male. Some in their number argue that the man’s assuming a woman’s identity and simulating female physical characteristics is just the sort of “invasion” the women want to prevent.

The World Needs to Listen to the Truth

Such controversies grow out of any attempt to regard lies as if they were true. Truth is not determined through some pseudo-democratic process. False premises can only lead to false conclusions, no matter how many people accept them. Even those who refuse to admit the reality of God, like Dr. Dawkins, can sometimes see that “transgenderism” is an example of “a bridge too far.”

Conservatives need to point to these internal fights to show the issue is far from settled. Those who “follow the science,” like Dr. Dawkins, are announcing that “the science” supports a binary world with male and female. The world needs to listen.

Article first published on the American TFP website: