Biologist Richard Dawkins condemned for ‘bad faith’ take on trans lives
Richard Dawkins drew criticism Saturday (10 April) for a provocative tweet that compared trans people to Rachel Dolezal.
On Saturday morning, an entire minute after tweeting about the late Prince Phillip’s top hat, the evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist abruptly gave his take on trans lives that absolutely nobody asked for.
Dawkins compared trans folk to Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who appropriated a Black identity while pursuing Black activism and academia.
“In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black,” Dawkins wrote.
“Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men.
“You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as,” he said, before asking his nearly three million followers to “discuss” his thoughts.
In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black. Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) April 10, 2021
Dolezal once likened herself to trans people. At the time, her words were rebutted by the psychologist and author Guilaine Kinouani, who told BBC Newsnight: “Comparing [being trans] with trans-racialism is a fallacy. It’s a false equivalency, which in my mind doesn’t advance our understanding of race, of transgender issues, neither of Black womanhood. [She’s a] white woman who’s quite oblivious to the fact that Black women’s experiences and bodies have been appropriated.”
Similarly, Dawkins’ comment quickly became a lightning rod for criticism, with trans folk and allies responding with frustration and exhaustion.
Why not read absolutely anything that’s been written about this and understand it. Absolutely pathetic that you’re going down the Gender Critical conspiracy theory hole after reading one stupid book. This is like a teenager level argument about trans people
— Katy Montgomerie 🦗 (@KatyMontgomerie) April 11, 2021
Small problem: trans people don’t really “choose” to transition. Furthermore, your understanding of gender identity is either flawed or you are just arguing based on faith, because the majority of scientists/biologists disagree with you. https://t.co/AL8MMwrT7A
— Alf_kebab (@AlfKebab) April 11, 2021
Richard Dawkins is not the kind of person who should be leading any conversation on trans issues and gender in society
— Lily Simpson (@LilySimpson1312) April 11, 2021
This is bad faith bc trans people and sociologists of race and tons of others clarify this conflation after Rebecca Tuvel made the same point even more inelegantly in Hypatia 4 years ago. Yet here you are with a double dose of anti-blackness AND transantagonism. https://t.co/N88IxJMeoM
— Zoé (@ztsamudzi) April 12, 2021
Race isn't gender. Done. https://t.co/Tfysc3SdTZ
— Mary Dane Watson (@Plaindaneaspie) April 11, 2021
The 80-year-old has also questioned whether a “trans woman is a woman” previously, before calling it all “semantics”.
Is trans woman a woman? Purely semantic. If you define by chromosomes, no. If by self-identification, yes. I call her "she" out of courtesy.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) October 26, 2015
“If you define by chromosomes, no,” he wrote. “If by self-identification, yes. I call her ‘she’ out of courtesy.”
His post was met with a backlash among both LGBT+ rights advocates and scientists alike, criticising Dawkins for compressing people to just chromosomes.
— Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science (@rdfrs) October 24, 2018
Richard Dawkins has been contacted for comment.