Richard Dawkins talks sex and gender with Helen Joyce

August 24, 2023 • 9:30 am

Here’s an engaging 51-minute conversation with Richard Dawkins as the interlocutor and Helen Joyce as the interviewee; the topic is transgenderism and sex.  You probably know about Joyce, who has a math degree but now is a journalist working for The Economist. She’s well known for having been demonized and deplatformed by gender activists for what, as you’ll see, are eminently sensible views on transgenderism and human sex. She is not a transphobe in the sense of wanting to “erase” transpeople, or hating them, or trying to deny them respect or rights (with a few exceptions I agree with), but that doesn’t matter. She hasn’t hewed to the activist party line, and so she’s persona non grata.

I’m currently reading her book Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, and am about 40% of the way though. I recommend it highly if you want to navigate your way over the choppy waters of transgenderism.  Her points (so far) are these:

  1. Many people are prompted to change their gender from male to female (or, usually, vice versa) by social pressure, by internet “friends”, by parents, or, more insidiously, by the “affirmative therapy” practiced by therapists and doctors who don’t take the time to analyze in detail the gender issues (“dysphoria”) experienced by many young folk.
  2. And these young folk, if left alone or given “regular” (i.e., empathic) therapy, most often resolve their dysphoria without transition, usually by deciding that they’re gay. That resolution is often much better than the medicalized resolution, which leads to prescription for puberty blockers, which themselves invariably lead to hormone therapy and sometimes to surgery (mastectomies, hysterectomies, removal of genitals and reconstruction of non-natal genitals, and sterility).
  3. The long-term effects of puberty blockers, as I’ve discussed before, are not known, but they are not without side effects. Without this knowledge, no child or adolescent can give informed consent for taking them. (As we know, several European countries now consider the use of blockers to be at the clinical, experimental stage.)
  4. The activists’ mantra: “If you don’t get your dysphoric child to change their gender, the alternative is suicide” is bogus. Any suicides of dysphoric adolescents, who are very often afflicted with mental illness or stress, don’t differ in frequency from those of similarly distressed adolescents who are not contemplating transition. And the rate of suicide is very low—far from the “100%” implied by gender activists.
  5. There should be “women’s spaces” reserved for biological women and not transgender women. In the video below Joyce discusses several of these, including single (biological sex) restrooms and changing rooms, and she explains why. Beyond these few types of spaces, she favors giving trans people the same rights as those enjoyed by of non-trans people.

Do read her book. It’s clear, well-written, and sensible.

Joyce’s book got a generally good reception except by gender ideologues or woke venues,

Here are the short YouTube notes:

Here is my conversation with Helen J on ‘The Poetry of Reality’, tackling the influence of gender ideology on society, the ideological lens, and its implications for scientific facts.

Here are a few questions that Joyce answers in the discussion:

What does it mean to “treat a transwoman as a woman”?

Should transgender women compete in athletics against biological women?

Do transgender people have to have medical procedures or surgery to be taken seriously, or can they be taken seriously by simply declaring that they are a member of the non-natal gender?  As Joyce notes, “I don’t think that male or female are prizes for effort. They’re just observation of categories of what we are.”

Why does Joyce favor single-biological-sex restrooms? Many people think that these should be eliminated in favor of “restrooms for everyone,” but Joyce explains why she doesn’t agree.

Why are the gender activists winning, i.e., dominating the conversation and silencing their opponents?

Click below to watch. I myself bridle at watching longish videos, but this one is well worth your time. Dawkins is very good at asking the right questions and drawing out Joyce’s views.

15 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins talks sex and gender with Helen Joyce

  1. “or, more insidiously, by the “affirmative therapy” practiced by therapists.” Ain’t that the truth. I have an acquaintance whose daughter became the prey of a therapist, and who is now not a daughter. This was a young woman with admitted psychological issues and with a family history of psychological issues. She needed mental health diagnosis and treatment, not drugs and a double mastectomy.

    1. I’m saddened by your anecdote, Alison. I hope you will indulge me a bit:

      You shouldn’t feel the need to say your friend’s daughter had “admitted” psychological issues. That makes it sound like what was done to her was somehow less wrong or was mitigated by her psychological problems, almost as if she had it coming, the way we would say “So-and-so was shot by the police, while ‘admittedly’ trying to run the officers over with his car.” I know that’s not what you mean but others sometimes use “admittedly” as a damage-control word to imply that we ought to forgive the poor treatment once we find out there were mental-health problems. “Well, mental-health….What can you expect?”

      People with gender distress often do have mental health problems. The high prevalence means that doctors and therapists must be vigilant about considering these other diagnoses and not jump to the fashionable diagnosis of gender discordance.

      I hope your friend’s daughter is able to find her way in life. I also hope we can stop this, as the Europeans have.

  2. The “trees” are important to examine in detail, as is done with civility and clarity in that interview and book – but I’d like to sketch the “forest” a bit:

    The reason sexuality is of key interest to Marxism – yes, it’s Marxism – is that capitalism has fostered stability (generally), but specifically in family life – the home – “childhood innocence”. Györg Lukác and Mussolini are claimed to have exploited this link to the stability of family to forward their ideologies, but I do not have literature references for that.

    “Childhood innocence” has also recently been declared racist, and published in an academic journal – laundering the belief as knowledge. The belief can now be cited to justify Comprehensive Sexual Education, i.e. Queering sex ed.

    Thus, sexuality as it pertains to childhood innocence – is recognized as a key instrument for destruction of capitalism.

    Why sexuality? Because it encompasses some of the most intense emotions.

    Much of what I wrote can be located online – but some is my own thought. Try Bernstein, Dyer as author last names – or a NYT article from 1983 (below). Gayle Rubin’s Thinking Sex is regarded as the origin Queer Theory. I can give details on literature if needed, let me know.

    BTW Hegel examined problems of categorization – I’d have to look that up.

    NYT article:

    1. To support this notion – I just picked up a copy of Engels’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884).

      In haste: Engels describes marriage as “bourgeois property”…. monogamy, polygamy, love, lust… Protestsnt, Catholic marriage as well… man subjugating woman as a consequence of power and capitalist production…

      Worth reading straight from Engels.

      Destabilizing the sexuality of the normative class would make sense then as a pretext for overthrowing capitalism and ushering in communism via socialism.

  3. From JC’s summary, this stuck me: “more insidiously, by the “affirmative therapy” practiced by therapists and doctors who don’t take the time to analyze in detail the gender issues” — and my first reaction was to reminded of “recovered memory” sexual abuse/Satanic nonsense from crank therapists and the ensuing moral panic. Different scene, but the demonization of people like Helen Joyce & JK Rowling has that moral panic flavor. By raising even the mildest questions one risks being labeled a hateful transphobe. That matter was also addressed in Kathleen Stock’s Material Girls book.

    1. I think that is Hegelian Dialectic – but I am still reading about that :

      “look at this terrible thing that happened in the past (Satanic Panic), look how ignorant we were. Ergo the social engineering project I am forwarding (Wokecraft) is not that terrible thing because how could anyone be so ignorant now, and you are repeating history (Satanic Panic) if you say anything bad about it.”

      Hegel was a speculative philosopher, his dialectic does not fit within classical logic … is what I am reading about.

      Also hermetic alchemy.

    2. Oh, I also see your point (I’m in haste – might have overshot that) – the facilitated conversation (or whatever they are called) in the Satanic Panics.

  4. J. Coyne is correct about this. MTF is better known and more controversial (Thomas on the women’s swim team). However, FTM is more common.

    1. “Tomboy” is racist (look it up – a person wrote it so it must be true).

      Therefore, daughter Jenny who is nominally a “Tomboy” can escape her charge of racism by rejecting her female Nature. Her new name is now Johnny and new they/them pronouns to transform out of the racist, female bodily prison she did not consent to be born in, to be reborn.

  5. Excellent. Helen Joyce is a very bright spark, I’m very familiar with her work. And Richard is always worth listening to.

  6. Why is trans ideology so influential? I really don’t know. However, some number of observations come to mind.

    1. It’s primarily an Anglosphere issue (Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand, UK). Why? I have no idea why English speaking countries should be somewhat uniquely afflicted.
    2. Its’ primarily a WEIRD issue. WEIRD stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. Why? I have no idea why WEIRD countries should be somewhat uniquely afflicted.
    3. It is pervasive. Everyone knows that “sex is a spectrum” nonsense dominate elite thinking (it does). However, it goes way beyond that. From “Sex is a Spectrum” ( a comment by Spencer “Lol. I introduce students every semester to various non-overlapping or barley overlapping graphs by sex. Every year their jaws drop further. Twenty years ago barely an eyebrow was raised.” These issues are by no means limited to elite universities. At University of Southern Maine, an instructor (Christy Hammer) dared to say that there are two sexes All but one student (21 of 22) walked out in protest. The one student later caved to the fanatics. Of course, Hammer was entirely correct.
    4. Gender-ideology rules K-12 education, Academia, Hollywood, the media, government the FBI/CIA/military, NGOs, SV, Tech, Wall Street, corporations, etc. Since that’s everything (that matters) all we have is Gender-ideology.

    1. Never underestimate Marxism.

      It will use anything to get power – by destabilizing any sites within capitalist society.

      Consider Comprehensive Sexual Education – not plain old embarrassing sex ed, but activist-driven sexualization of children, to destabilize the family and child.

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