“Trust the Science,” Indeed
Although one could be forgiven for not keeping up with every outlandish and misinformed statement uttered by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R, Georgia), this one deserves some unpacking. (I generally link to these things, but I don’t want to give her the signal boost.)
According to Greene and to other sources, her colleague across the hall has expressed support for the Equality Act, the first Federal act to address LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections (Passed the House of Representatives, 2/25/2021).
Marie Newman (D, Illinois) both confessed concern about her own transgender child and hung a transgender flag outside her office. In response, Greene posted a large sign in the hallway, strategically placed so that Newman could see it when leaving her office. In a tweet, Greene also deliberately misgendered Newman’s daughter. The sign states that we have “two genders” “male” and “female.” Below that, she has included: “Trust the Science.”
OK, let’s ignore the first point: female and male are sexes and not genders. I know that they frequently get used interchangeably, but that’s no excuse here. She is making a very specific point about excluding certain individuals from athletics (and other things) based on their sex, not their gender. That is precisely Greene’s point, so she should use the appropriate terminology.
The more important point here is her second one: “Trust the science.” Indeed, let’s look at what scientists have to say.
First, we should also note the irony here. Greene is perfectly willing to ignore the science when it is convenient. A search of her Congressional webpage offers “0 results” when searching for “Climate.” (It suggests I check my spelling.) Greene does not talk much directly about climate change, but we do know that she is willing to blame “Jewish space lasers” for wildfires rather than acknowledge that climate change has altered weather patterns and contributed to California’s lengthened and intensified fire season. Further, Trump has frequently called climate change a “hoax,” and we know she’s generally in lock-step with Trump.
Equally as deadly, Greene has largely ignored the science on the coronavirus. Again, nothing on COVID or the coronavirus or pandemic appears on her webpage. Furthermore, we know that Greene refused to wear a mask on January 6 when all members of Congress were locked in a safe room. Greene notes that neither she nor her other Republican colleagues who did not wear masks could have spread the virus, despite medical advice that asymptomatic people can spread the virus. She has again ignored the science on this. Trump has also called the pandemic a hoax, blamed the Chinese, and underplayed its seriousness.
So, Greene has a solid history of ignoring science and medicine on climate change and pandemics. Now, she would like us to “trust the science” on sex and gender. The trouble is, she has the science wrong. Dead wrong. In fact, the science pretty clearly shows us that we have more than two sexes. True, a text book from the 1950s probably would say we just have two, but the times they have changed.
In too many articles to mention and/or hotlink, the science seems to suggest that the two-sex model for human beings is just too simplistic. A 2001 piece by Nova draws on the work of medical researcher Anne Fausto-Sterling to note that “Two Sexes Are Not Enough.” In an essay in by Claire Ainsworth, she argues for “sex redefined,” noting that the two-sex model “is overly simplistic.” In a 2020 article, the University of Rochester Medical Center examines a variety of animal species that manifest more than two sexes, and can even switch sexes.
And on, and on.
So, Marjorie Taylor Greene is RIGHT that we should “trust the science.” She’s just wrong about what the science says.
Ritch Calvin is an Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at SUNY Stony Brook. He is the author of Feminist Epistemology and Feminist Science Fiction and editor of a collection of essays on Gilmore Girls.