Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

A call for clarity

Sexuality | Doctors, scientists, academics, and legal professionals call for a scientific, binary definition of sex
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 12/14/18, 02:50 pm

Four major medical organizations representing more than 30,000 health professionals sent a letter to the Trump administration last week urging it to continue to uphold the scientific definition of sex in federal law and policy—a definition that aligns with God’s design as expressed in the Bible of two distinct and complementary sexes.

The letter, sent from the American College of Pediatricians, the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the Catholic Medical Association, follows a Trump administration memo leaked by The New York Times in October. The memo urged key government agencies to adopt a uniform legal definition of sex “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”

Activists pushing the transgender agenda immediately decried the memo, protesting in front of the White House and holding a news conference the day after the leak. Diana Flynn of the LGBT activist group Lambda Legal called the proposal “another ideologically driven attempt by the Trump administration to marginalize people and force them into the shadows.”

But the letter’s authors argue transgender protections are themselves ideologically driven. The medical groups applauded the memo, as well as two other efforts by the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era policies that sought to include subjective gender identity in regulations banning sex discrimination. On Feb. 22, 2017, the departments of Justice and Education sent a “Dear Colleague” letter rescinding guidance that educational institutions receiving federal funding conflate gender identity and sex in Title IX protections. And on Oct. 4, 2017, the Department of Justice issued a memo clarifying that gender identity is not legally included in the definition of sex in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The nine-point letter from the medical groups, endorsed by 32 other legal organizations, policy groups, and individuals, is a declaration against transgender ideology. The letter declares sex to be “a binary, biologically determined, and immutable trait from conception forward.” The writers defend the importance of sex differences in health and medical care, noting that more than 6,500 shared genes are expressed differently in human males and females. They dispute the notion that sex is a spectrum, arguing that congenital sex development disorders (often called intersex disorders) are not additional sexes and that humans are unambiguously male or female more than 99.98 percent of the time: “The use of congenital disorders to advance the myth that there are a multitude of human sexes which exist on a spectrum is ideological and political activism, not science.”

The letter also pushes back on the claim that upholding the scientific definition of sex will increase suicide among transgender people, instead arguing that studies show affirming gender identity does not reduce suicide in the long term. And finally, it defends sex-based legal protections, arguing women and girls bear the brunt of privacy invasion when we say sex is nothing more than gender identity.

“For all of these reasons, it is with unwavering conviction that we urge the Trump administration to uphold the original scientific meaning and legal intent of the term ‘sex’ in federal law and policy,” the letter concluded. About 23,000 people had signed an online petition based on the letter by midday Friday.

But the White House is facing an uphill battle against increasing legal support for gender identity protections. One pending case could be an important litmus test: Late last month, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to issue a ruling on a proposed Pentagon policy restricting military service by some transgender individuals. Legal battles in lower courts have delayed the policy, and the White House has argued the Obama administration’s rule of allowing all transgender individuals to serve poses too great a risk to military effectiveness and lethality. The high court has not said whether it will take up the case.

iStock/monkeybusinessimages iStock/monkeybusinessimages

Family matters

A recent Pew survey found the vast majority of Americans say family is what makes their lives meaningful. When answering both open- and closed-ended questions, nearly 70 percent of the close to 10,000 people surveyed answered “family” when asked what provides them with meaning and fulfillment.

In the survey, no other option—including career, finances, spirituality, friends, hobbies, or health—came close to the value put on family relationships. The second most popular answer people gave to what provides the most important source of meaning was religious faith.

“We are made to love and be loved,” Glenn T. Stanton, the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, wrote about the study. “And the most important and meaningful places where people find these are with their family and with God—the very local and transcendent.”

Indeed, a Wall Street Journal article published this week lamented the psychological and physical effects of aging without close family.

“All other relationships and life-aspects orbit around these, and research shows this time and again,” Stanton added. “Pew’s work in this report is simply the latest installment in this story.” —K.C.

iStock/Zephyr18 iStock/Zephyr18

Helping working class families

Late last month, a group of bipartisan scholars released a report on understanding and helping a struggling subsection of American society: working-class families. The “Family and Community” section of the report takes a deeper look at the fragility of family and community life in working-class society.

The scholars—from the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, and Opportunity America—noted the significant retreat from marriage among working-class Americans and outlined its devastating effect on families. They found lower levels of household income, more violent crime and suicide, and a higher likelihood of children floundering in school, having emotional problems, and ending up idle and unemployed as young adults. The report advocates for a handful of policy changes to address the problems. The bottom line: Social policy should encourage community engagement, work, and marriage. —K.C.

Brain change and screen time

Initial research for a new landmark study by the National Institutes of Health found screen time changes children’s brains. A CBS News 60 Minutes report on Sunday revealed the first wave of data from MRI brain scans on 4,500 9- and 10-year-olds found significant differences in the brains of kids who use smartphones, tablets, and video games more than seven hours a day. Researchers don’t yet know if the brain changes are a bad thing, but they have found other negative effects—children who spend more than two hours a day on screens got lower scores on thinking and language tests. And more research is coming: The $300 million study will follow more than 11,000 kids for a decade. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley reports on marriage, family, and sexuality for WORLD Digital. Follow Kiley on Twitter @KileyCrossland.

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  • news2me
    Posted: Fri, 12/14/2018 07:19 pm

    Are my taxes paying for a 300 million dollar brain study? 

    Did cigarette/cancer studies keep people from smoking? NO!


  • Laura W
    Posted: Sun, 12/16/2018 03:01 am

    I think they helped--smoking's been going down.

  • news2me
    Posted: Fri, 12/14/2018 07:22 pm

    The WH needs to REMOVE ANYONE who worked under Obama. 

    If they don't support Trump, they should not be serving in the WH.

    That includes the chef, etc. ANYONE! 


    Posted: Mon, 12/17/2018 12:02 pm

    Liberals only seem to support logical, rational science if it fits their agenda...

    “... it is with unwavering conviction that we urge the Trump administration to uphold the original scientific meaning and legal intent of the term ‘sex’ in federal law and policy...” ... this logic is illogically banned...