As a base for my question, here is a link to an article from nature.com: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00502-w

In the article, the following paragraph is relevant:

The researchers noticed that male participants’ typical immune response to infection differed from that of female participants, which could explain the more severe disease often observed in men. (Nature recognizes that sex and gender are neither binary nor fixed.)

Obviously the researchers, studying immune response difference between sexes, made two categories: Male and Female.

Then the Nature article, trying to fit with the times wrote that they recognize that sex and genders are not binary, and if they really believed it themselves, they'd probably not publish research as it would be based on a model they say they don't believe in.

My question is: are there known examples where research has been openly discredited (in a publication, or through a public speech on the media) because it is based on the binary definition of sexes and therefore 'not inclusive'?

(for reference I believe Humans are XX or XY and that's it, so this may bias the question / terms I used)

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting though your question may be, it is not a question about a biology in the terms of SE Biology, in that it is a question about social influences on scientific practice and publishing, rather than a biological problem. For that reason I have voted to close. $\endgroup$ – David Aug 27 '20 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @David, I understand the improper fit. Can you think of another site where the question might be a good fit since I'd like it to be seen by people in the biology field. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Aug 27 '20 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, but I only do hard question and answer sites like Stack Overflow, this and English Language. I happen to subscribe to Nature and noticed the editorial intervention you refer to, but at my age I avoid political discussion with people I do not know. Certainly I prefer to keep this site on topic — I can provoke antagonism easily enough without meaning to just doing that. $\endgroup$ – David Aug 27 '20 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ I think your logic is a little flawed here. Just because a classification system is not universally binary or fixed (few biological concepts are) doesn't make it useless. If it did, we would have abandon species classifications long ago. Philosophy or politics would probably be more appropriate stacks for this question. $\endgroup$ – MikeyC Aug 27 '20 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ Your statement that "Humans are XX or XY and that's it" is false. Humans can be XXY, XYY, XXX, XO, and others. Gender and sex are biologically not binary. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Aug 28 '20 at 22:11

I think that you will find that the opposite is the case more often.

First of all, a premise that XX vs. XY has some kind of fundamental truth (which really is a premise of this question) is simply incorrect. There are a wide variety of karyotypes of the sex chromosomes, and these do not line up well with common notions of sex.

Using the XX vs. XY heuristic, and trying to fit e.g. intersex people into it, leads to positively incorrect and unnecessary therapies and surgeries in medical practice. A strong devotion to an XX vs. XY binary simply writes off something like 10% of the population, who are biologically neither male nor female according to that criterion.

Fausto-Sterling's book Sexing the Body was my introduction to this topic, though I am certain that there are more recent works.

So, on the contrary, you are more likely to find instances of people who don't fit the binary being harmed by the binary than people who do fit the binary being harmed by "woke" verbiage.

  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting answer. I asked the question as a part of a debate with friends and now I feel like I learned something worth reading a lot more about. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Thomas Aug 28 '20 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas lovely to hear that. Thanks for taking it seriously- we're all here to learn! $\endgroup$ – Maximilian Press Aug 28 '20 at 20:29

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