A long list of medical and legal professionals signed onto a petition urging administration officials to maintain the scientific definition of sex outlined in a memo leaked in October.
Signatories included outspoken pediatrician Dr. Michelle Cretella and Dr. Paul McHugh, both prominent figures in the debate over transgenderism.
The petition included a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker — all of whom belonged to departments with influence over the issue.
As IJR previously noted, The New York Times leaked a draft memo in which the HHS advised the Education Department to interpret sex as an immutable trait determined by a person’s biological characteristics.
The letter applauded the Trump administration’s previous actions on the issue and detailed the scientific reasons for maintaining a binary definition of sex.
According to the Institute of Medicine, sex is a narrowly defined biological term. Sex is a biological trait that defines living things as male and female based on the complement of sex chromosomes and the presence of reproductive organs.[i] The American Psychiatric Association defines sex similarly as the “biological indication of male and female (understood in the context of reproductive capacity), such as sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, and nonambiguous internal and external genitalia.” [ii]
Human sex is a binary, biologically determined, and immutable trait from conception forward. The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female. Human sexuality is binary by design for the obvious purpose of the reproduction of our species. This principle is self-evident. “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of male and female, respectively, and are found in every cell of the human body including the brain. Sex is established at conception, declares itself in utero, and is acknowledged at birth.
Sex differences are real and consequential. The Institute of Medicine recognized the singular importance of sex to health and the field of medicine nearly two decades ago. Sex chromosomes impart innate differences between men and women in literally every cell of our bodies.[i] There are over 6500 shared genes that are expressed differently in human males and females.[iii] These differences impact our brains, organ systems, propensity for developing certain diseases, differential responses to drugs, toxins and pain, differential cognitive and emotional processes, behavior and more.[i]
Other signatories came from academia, psychology, and the legal field as well.
The letter was just the latest attempt by medical professionals to influence the debate over gender in the United States. As IJR previously reported, Cretella and McHugh both pushed back on assertions from other medical professionals who, in a letter last month, criticized the administration’s decision to interpret Title IX on a biological basis.
Both groups of professionals have argued that the government’s definition of gender would have serious legal consequences.
Gender politics have become especially prevalent in educational institutions, where faculty members have faced punishment over issues like pronoun use. Earlier this week, for example, a Virginia teacher lost his job because he refused to use preferred pronouns when referring to a student who identified as transgender.