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The forbidden S-word

Countries worldwide have witnessed a systemic erasure of sex from public policy just when the data will be needed most

Artillery Row

Researchers predict that sex-selection practices around the world will result in a shortage of girls in comparison to boys. An imbalance between the sexes took hold in some countries in southeast Europe and southeast Asia starting in 1970. Now, researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia suggest that, based on their projections, this global imbalance could exacerbate, with 4.7 fewer females born over the next decade. Unless corrected, this could amount to 22 million fewer girls born by 2100. 

According to their modelling, a third of the world’s population will have a surplus of young men and a deficit of women. Prior to 2021, countries like China and India already had an unequal sex ratio; scientists anticipate Pakistan, Nigeria and other sub-Saharan countries will follow this pattern. Previous research has shown that over 20 countries currently have an unnatural sex imbalance.

After analysing a database of 3.26 billion birth records from 204 countries from 1970 to 2020, the lead researcher of the study, Dr Fengqing Chao said to The Times

“Fewer than expected females in a population could result in elevated levels of antisocial behaviour and violence, and may ultimately affect long-term stability and social sustainable development.” 

We can expect much of this violence to be committed against girls and women. Societies that penalise females for not being male, still expect them to be available for exploitation through labour, sex and for reproductive purposes. Rape and bride kidnapping constitute a burden placed on the fewer females available to men who find themselves competing with other men for people they consider to be their resources.

Scientists concerned with an exacerbation of the current sex imbalance due to cultural preferences for boys are only able to make their projections because, around the world, countries collect data about biological sex on birth certificates. However, over the past few decades, countries worldwide have witnessed a systemic erasure of sex from public policy, including the sex-based rights that arise from this recognition. 

The Times article spoke of sex selection “global timebomb”, but what’s truly explosive is that far from heeding scientists’ long-simmering concerns about the increasing sex ratio imbalance, worldwide lobbying is underway to convince legislators and policymakers that sex should be erased from public records all together. 

There is no medical spectrum of gender identity

In June, the American Medical Association advocated to remove sex from birth certificates in the United States. Under the language of biological sex being “designated” at birth the idea that doctors and midwives allocate a sex to newborn babies based on their personal preferences the AMA argued that legally noting people’s sex can lead to discrimination. Instead, this marker should be removed from the birth certificates of the entire population in order to accommodate the statistically minute percentage of people who reject their sex, and believe in the concept of “gender identity”. 

The drive to remove accurate references to sex from public policy around the world mean that, in countries like the United States and Australia, even legislation specifically designed to address inequalities based on sex, become neutralised by an insistence that “sex” must also include “gender identity” within the same legal definition.

The American Medical Association states: 

“Existing AMA policy recognizes that every individual has the right to determine their gender identity and sex designation on government documents. To protect individual privacy and to prevent discrimination, U.S. jurisdictions should remove sex designation on the birth certificate. Furthermore, removal of sex designation from the birth certificate would have little to no impact on vital statistics data collected for medical, public health, and statistical purposes.”

Willie Underwood III, a doctor and the architect behind the change in policy, stated: “Assigning sex using binary variables in the public portion of the birth certificate fails to recognize the medical spectrum of gender identity.” 

There is no medical spectrum of gender identity. The concept of “gender identity” has no medical component, given that it represents, at best, an esoteric belief concocted within the most elite academic institutions of the Global North and imposed worldwide as a theological doctrine. Like all beliefs, “gender identity” dissipates the moment people change their minds.

Sex, on the other hand, is a biological fact of life that resides in every single cell within our bodies. Even in death, our bones keep the scores of this physiological reality. Sex represents a fundamental aspect of people’s lives, from medical research design and the impact of illness on our bodies, to the specific services we might need when escaping violence.

The trans lobby is determined to wreck every gain made by the women’s liberation movement

Scientists are currently grasping just how fundamental sex as a biological variable is for the health of females, whose bodies are routinely ignored when it comes to medical research. Sex-based research is vital to better address the differentiated effects of pain, cardiovascular diseases, cancer diagnosis, lung diseases, the metabolization of drugs and even the side effects of vaccines

Ignorance of these health matters represent a life-or-death issue for the sex that has been historically invisibilised. Therefore, to deliberately obfuscate the variable that researchers need to generate this analysis, is nothing but cruelty against girls and women.

Oftentimes, feminist campaigners who recognise the importance of sex find ourselves overwhelmed by the trans lobby’s determination to wrecking every gain the women’s liberation movement has made. But we must pause and consider: why do birth certificates recognise sex in the first place? 

In the UK, as well as other countries where boys had supremacy when it comes to titles and inheritance matters, recording sex at birth was paramount. Then, as women entered public life and the workforce, sex data became a highly valuable tool to analyse structural inequality in society and design public policy to ameliorate it.

A 2012 report from the United Nations titled Sex Imbalances at Birth stated: 

“Sex selection in favour of boys is a symptom of pervasive social, cultural, political and economic injustices against women, and a manifest violation of women’s human rights. This distorted demographic masculinization, which has serious social and economic implications, is not a natural phenomenon but is achieved through a deliberate elimination of girls.”

Almost a decade later, UNWomen, the international entity created to tackle discrimination against women, doesn’t dare to mention the forbidden S-word, preferring to lecture people that a woman is anybody who wishes to be one.

Accurate sex data is how policy makers determine how to allocate resources and how society keeps track of structural imbalances, such as the pay gap between men and women. We wouldn’t know that patterns of violence are higher in men, regardless of how they identify, if we didn’t have clear records of individual’s biological sex. We must therefore question: who benefits from obscuring these statistics through the erasure of sex? 

Certainly not women and girls.

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