It’s becoming clear that there are many ways the feminist movement has steered women wrong, and unlike most people, Dr. Debra Soh isn’t afraid to point that out. In her new book, The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society, Soh tackles two incredibly hot topics: gender ideology and cancel culture.
The two are intrinsically related in a number of ways. Those who have a view of gender that does not meet the going leftist perspective are in danger of cancellation, but also the left is using this ideology to attempt to essentially cancel sex and gender – and they’re using scientific misinformation to do it.
As Soh points out, intellectually dishonest activists in science intentionally misrepresent scientific discovery in the realm of sexology, the study of sex and gender, because “Scientific research is no longer about exploring new ground, but promoting ideas that make people happy.” But happiness is not a relevant goal of scientific research. The intentional distortion of science to meet social justice criteria results in bad science and diminishes scientists’ ability to do objective research.
Initially, the feminist movement went to great lengths to differentiate sex from gender. The basic idea was that sex is defined by a person’s reproductive composition, and gender was how society interprets and enforces roles and traits associated with biological sex. The reason feminism did this was to essentially say that women are more than their bodies, and that the vulnerability of women’s bodies—as a result of their reproductive functions—was not a good reason to keep women out of public life, or to believe that their capacity to function fully in professional contexts should be diminished.
It made sense back in the 1960s and through the end of the 20th century that women should emphasize that all the burdens society places on women, from beauty standards to caregiver inclinations, are not a direct result of the female sex, but a conglomeration of stereotypes imposed by a patriarchal culture that seeks to oppress them. Feminists made the distinction between sex and gender in pursuit of liberation.
While this was incredibly effective, it was, as Soh reveals, a lie. The problem for Soh is not that gender is identifiable by sex, but that traits of femininity are derided in our culture, because male traits have been considered the norm against which feminine traits are judged. It is perception, not science, that is the problem for Soh.
Soh’s argument is that both biological sex and gender—traits typically identifiable as masculine or feminine and associated with males or females—are based in biological reality. The basis for these traits is chemical differences in the brain. Soh roundly debunks the studies showing there are no differences between male and female brains as false both in the formulation of the studies, the way they were carried out, and the analysis of those results. At every level, she finds fault with the way these studies were conducted and the way the data they relied on was gathered.
Yet these studies were taken up by trans activists as a justification for the idea that gender is mutable and changeable. More and more a flawed consensus is embracing the idea that biological sex is fluid. Soh takes issue with the current thinking posed by activists for trans rights, who blot out any course of discourse or dialogue that runs counter to their view. “You cannot know whether your perspective is correct without considering arguments against it,” she writes.
Instead of an open conversation, protecting the feelings of those who wish to transition means loudly condemning, ostracizing, and “canceling” anyone who dares to ask questions or point out the inherent contradictions with the idea that gender and sex can be changed. Soh was one of these people. Her views on gender were unwelcomed in the scientific community, and this, she explains, is how she ended up becoming a journalist dedicated to having the conversations so many were afraid to speak.
Soh tracks through the past several years of prominent cancellations, such as James Damore, who lost his position at Google for suggesting there could be reasons other than discrimination that women are not more prominent in STEM fields. Or Lisa Littman, the Brown University researcher who wrote a paper showing that the rising number of young girls who transition could be doing so because of social contagions, not biological factors.
She recalls absurdities like the genderless penguin, Gentoo, which was entirely contrived by zookeepers, the many attempts at defining highly specific alternate genders, and language that divorces women from their own sex, as in “pregnant person,” or “individuals with a cervix.”
There’s also the logic problem, which the LGBTQIA+ community does not want to hear about even a little: The way a person comes to realize that he is a different gender than the one he was born with is to identify with the stereotypical traits associated with the opposite gender. This reinforces the gender binary, rather than liberates it.
The new concepts of gender are regressive, and suggest that a person who does not subscribe to the stereotypes associated with her birth gender is in fact the opposite gender. That is not in service to liberation, but oppression. It is not freeing to think that your body is wrong and must be changed in order to adequately represent who you are.
Girls Need to Become Women
Soh believes that much of the attraction to gender ideology is about the community that alt gender identity grants a person access to. It is bright, rainbow-colored, and fun. There are parades, and marches, things to feel good about, and a whole group of people online who appear to be accepting.
The desire to be part of a community can be very enticing, and it’s Soh thinks parents should be on the lookout for. Soh has a whole section of advice for parents who are concerned about their kids seeking social and medical transition. She backs a “therapeutic approach,” which “allows a child to explore their gender while being open to the possibility that they may grow comfortable in their birth sex.”
She gives true information about the irreversible harm of experimental puberty-blocking drugs and explores the difficulties of becoming a life-long, post-op medical patient, and the ill-effects of cross-sex hormones on bodies. She debunks the myth of trans suicide and shows that the increase in detransitioners is a failure of medicine. Parents are desperate to do the right thing, and they’re not getting all the facts. Soh provides them.
One of the big questions Soh tackles is why so many young people, girls in particular, are seeking to transition. The search for community, belonging, biological denialism, and the prejudice against feminine traits are given as reasons that girls would want to transition. But there is one other reason that Soh does not explore – our culture has entirely diminished taking responsibility for one’s self and others as a goal.
Girls do not want to grow up into women. We live in a culture that encourages people to be in a constant state of youth, with no responsibility, no aspirations other than dreams and whimsy. When you’re told you can live forever as children, the concepts of motherhood and family are diminished. The idea of creating a life where you are in control of yourself and how you navigate the world is tossed out in favor of a victim/oppression hierarchy in which the worse a person is treated by society, the more status a person has.
We do not encourage young people to grow up, to own themselves, to care for their bodies, and to make the most of the life they were given. Instead, we tell them that their dissatisfaction is about other people mistreating them, imposed societal biases, and that the entire culture needs to change to ensure and bolster their happiness.
Soh posits that what is really needed is research that doesn’t support a social justice mission. Instead, work should be done to encourage kids to accept and love themselves and their bodies without surgical intervention. Science should not be “rewritten” by those who “throw a loud enough temper tantrum,” Soh writes.
She’s right. Gender is as much a biological reality as is biological sex. Using language, science, and compassion to separate people from the fullness of their bodies will never lead to happiness.