Anthropologists facing fight over whether bones were transgender

(Photo by Renato Danyi, courtesy Pexels)
(Photo by Renato Danyi, courtesy Pexels)

The campaign to normalize – even institutionalize – the transgender movement in American society has moved into uncharted territory now, with a fight developing over the study of human ancestors, those historic bones uncovered and subjected to research for race, health, diet, movement and much, much more.

The dispute also could affect the situations in which remains have been found, and research is needed to identify a potential murder victim.

The fight is because those scientists are unable to determine how that dead person identified himself, or herself, or themself, as male, female or another alternative lifestyle choice, while alive tens, hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

It is constitutional expert and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley who has pointed out the looming war over the issue.

In a column on Monday he explained, “There is an interesting controversy brewing in anthropology departments where professors have called for researchers to stop identifying ancient human remains by biological gender because they cannot gauge how a person identified at that the time.”

He pointed out that some “scholars” want researchers even to stop saying what they believe to have been the race of set of bones, because “it fuels white supremacy.”

The extent to which America’s new “wokeness” scheme is being applied to anthropology was outlined in a report at the College Fix.

That report explained scientists work to determine age, race and gender when they uncover historic remains for a number of purposes.

But now, “a new school of thought within archaeology is pushing scientists to think twice about assigning gender to ancient human remains,” the report said.

“It is possible to determine whether a skeleton is from a biological male or female using objective observations based on the size and shape of the bones. Criminal forensic detectives, for example, do it frequently in their line of work,” the report said. “But gender activists argue scientists cannot know how an ancient individual identified themselves.”

Emma Palladino, an academic, said on social media, “You might know the argument that the archaeologists who find your bones one day will assign you the same gender as you had at birth, so regardless of whether you transition, you can’t escape your assigned sex.”

“Labeling remains ‘male’ or ‘female’ is rarely the end goal of any excavation, anyway,” she claimed. “The ‘bioarchaeology of the individual’ is what we aim for, factoring in absolutely everything we discover about a person into a nuanced and open-ended biography of their life.”

The report documented a new “Trans Doe Task Force” that focuses on the “disservice” to society by identifying remains as male or female because those individuals, when alive, may not have “clearly fit the gender binary.”

The group suggests “a gender-expansive approach to human identification by combing missing and unidentified databases looking for contextual clues such as decedents wearing clothing culturally coded to a gender other than their assigned sex.”

Just months ago, Jennifer Raff, of the University of Kansas, claimed there are “no neat divisions between physically or genetically ‘male’ or ‘female’ individuals.”

Her wokeness carried her to the idea that scientists “cannot know the gender of a 9,000 year-old biologically Peruvian hunter because they don’t know whether the hunter identified as male or female.”

She blamed that “‘duality’ concept” on “Christian colonizers.”

The report noted there is a backlash developing in the industry of research, too.

“San Jose State archaeology Professor Elizabeth Weiss told The Fix that eliminating gender classifications amounts to ‘ideologically-motivated fudging.’ Weiss said there is a move among academics ‘toward getting all of the academy’s favored shibboleths to accord with one another.’ Weiss said the recent explosion in the number of people identifying as transgender suggests that trend is ‘social and not biological,’ so ‘retroactively de-sexing obscures this obvious fact.'”

She explained it can be helpful to science to know whether a subject was male or female.

“Sexing skeletal remains is a critical skill in forensics and any diminishing of this skill will negatively impact criminal investigations, denying the victims and their families justice,” she told The Fix.

“Over time, biological anthropologists and archaeologists worked hard to determine which traits are determined by sex, regardless of time and culture. This new policy of erasing this progress is a step back for science and women.”

Others campaign against identifying skeletal remains by race, too, and Elizabeth DiGangi of Binghamton University claims “entrenched racial biases” are an issue.

Turley noted, “There is no question that these studies raise important questions of whether gender or racial bias can distort our understanding of human evolution and movement. Yet, it seems curious to some of us (admittedly, in my case, from another discipline) that you would not want this data point among the array of data used to analyze such discoveries. For example, it would seem that gender does reflect physical distinctions that impact elements of society, migration, and other relevant issues.”

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