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The Campaign to Erase Biological Sex

In a new book, excerpted below, Duke Law School professor Doriane Lambelet Coleman argues that we can support trans people without denying the facts of human biology.

· 13 min read
A hand holding a giant eraser rubs out a blue male and a pink female symbol.

In recent years, progressives who work on sex and gender have coalesced in support of two related goals. Mainly, they want society to accept, and the law to treat as equals, people who don’t conform to gender norms. That’s goal one, and it’s immediate and practical. Goal two is ideological. It’s a society that’s blind to sex. Only certain progressives are committed to this second goal, but the answer to the question “What is sex?” from progressive advocacy is informed by the ideas embedded in both.

Progressives, especially those who care about sex and gender, typically describe themselves as feminist. But there are factions at play. In very general terms, some have feminism’s original goals—empowerment of and equality for females—as their central focus, and so work on issues such as abortion, childcare, wage disparities, glass ceilings, and sexual violence. These are traditional women’s issues because they relate to our sex-linked biology and to expectations others have of us because of that biology. Misogyny, for traditional feminists, means diminishing females because of their female biology.

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