Madison Cawthorn is not a biologist. He didn’t say so in response to a question in a Congressional hearing, though — he just made it imminently clear through his ignorance of the subject. In fact, while telling his House colleagues that they can’t “amend biology,” he made up his own definition of the word ‘female’ — that biology does not support.
In less than a minute and a half, Madison Cawthorn conflates biology with sociology, conflates gender with sex, and provides a definition of his own that isn’t accurate for either one. Added bonuses: he also throws in the word ‘tallywhacker’ while airing the right-wing obsession with other people’s genitals.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (@RepCawthorn): "You might amend a bill, but you'll never amend biology. Science is not Burger King. You can't just have it your way…take notes Madame Speaker, I'm about to define what a woman is for you." pic.twitter.com/kPlUV2FALi
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 4, 2022
“Your left-wing movement is forcing children to endure radical expressions of sexuality, and yet you can’t even define what a woman is. You might amend a bill but you’ll never amend biology…I never imagined that one of my sacred duties in this chamber would be explaining to the House Speaker the difference between a man and a woman. Take notes Madame Speaker, I’m about to define what a woman is for you. XX chromosomes, no tallywhacker. It’s so simple.”
His definition is certainly simple, but that doesn’t make it accurate. Even assuming that he’s trying for the biological definition of ‘female,’ the National Human Genome Research Institute disagrees with him, noting that, while an XX chromosome pair is the most typical genotype for the female sex, it’s not all-defining.
In fact, biology recognizes that sex is not binary, as Scientific American covered back in 2019, explaining why the “tired simplification” from middle school science class defining XX as a woman and XY as a man, is a fraction of how biologists look at gender.
The popular belief that your sex arises only from your chromosomal makeup is wrong. The truth is, your biological sex isn’t carved in stone, but a living system with the potential for change.
The article digs deeper if you want to understand some of the biological imperatives that explain just how complicated the entire process is, involving hormonal, genetic, and environmental influences, but the very short version is that Cawthorn would be as wrong if this was a biology exam as he would if he was being tested on sociology or human decency.
There’s nothing in science to support his bigotry — or anyone else’s.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com