Editor’s Note: This column was originally written as an op-ed response to the Denver Post’s decision to run a October 25, 2018 column by Krista Kafer that contained transphobic language. Organizations and individuals representing the LGBTQ and faith communities, and members of the Colorado Legislative LGBT Caucus, also called on the newspaper’s editorial board to apologize. While the Denver Post did not opt to publish this piece, we are printing here on our blog.
“I dream of a world where the truth is what shapes people's politics, rather than politics shaping what people think is true.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson
Over the past number of years we have seen an increasing substitution of science with pseudoscience. If you look up the definition of pseudoscience you will see it is a collection of beliefs mistakenly regarded as being based on science. We commonly see this when people have firmly held beliefs that they would like to propose are fact rather than opinion. The thing about science is that facts are the gold currency: if you lack an interesting opinion about the facts then at worst you’re uninteresting, but if you lack facts then you don’t have anything. In fact (pun intended), science is so based on fact that you have to build solid evidence just to call something a theory.
Sex and gender are natural parts of being human beings, as is sexual identity. We see these terms often confused with each other, but they are all quite distinct concepts. Gender identity has received a lot of media attention in the past several years. Everyone from politicians, journalists, and even gynecologists with no training in gender development want to give their “science-based opinion”. This demonstrates the need for more education in the subject.
It also underscores the need for diversity in our leadership. If we are only electing people with training in law, then how do we expect them to have the years of specialized training needed for healthcare policies? I encourage everyone to voice their opinions, but let’s leave the expert opinions to the experts with years of training. Let us elect lawmakers with health experience and encourage consultation with other experts in the field.
In Colorado, we are lucky enough to live in a state that has prohibited discrimination of sexual orientation and gender identity since 2008. Those are joined by long standing protections against discrimination based on race, color, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, physical or mental disability. Krista Kafer’s column, “Legal definitions should reflect facts not wishful thinking,” suggests removing some of these protections because they are not for the benefit of the majority. This was the same reasoning for racially segregated bathrooms and why civil rights laws exist in the first place. Would the writer also suggest removing handicap ramps?
I would suggest something different: stop looking for ways to further discriminate against minority populations, they have enough struggles already. This is 2018. People should be allowed to have a house, a job, and go into public regardless of their gender identity.
If we want our laws to have “a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable,” here’s a fact that we don’t need advanced training for: we are all people. If genetics is really that important, then recognize that we are all homo sapiens and we share a majority of our DNA. People should be allowed to survive, thrive, and pursue the American Dream simply because they are human beings.
I realize that nobody dreams of being a pseudoscientist when they grow up. I like to believe that people do the best they can and don’t realize what information they lack. In other words, they don’t know what they don’t know. I also believe they don’t realize how hurtful they are being when these laws try to reduce minority groups to less than human beings.
I hope that the Department of Health and Human Services listens to the scientific community, whose organizations nearly all have policy statements against discrimination based on gender identity. Most of all I hope that we, as proud citizens of Colorado, can move past the idea that we need to prevent people from having basic rights if we disagree with them.
Wouldn’t it be the best of all if laws were based on respect and human decency?