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Richard Dawkins Insults Transgender Community


Academic and author Richard Dawkins has spoken out following the petition to stop transphobic feminist Germaine Greer from speaking at Cardiff University.

Dawkins, who has expressed some extreme and insulting views in the past, took to twitter following the incident in which Germaine Greer appeared on BBC Newsnight to decry the petition.  He said, ‘Students who suppress a distinguished scholar’s lecture because they disagree with her have no place in a university.’

‘Those who think it’s nonsense are entitled to stay away.  Or come and argue.  They should not censor views they think are nonsense.’

‘A university is not a ‘safe space’.  If you need a safe space, leave, go home, hug your teddy & suck your thumb until ready for university.’

Following on from this Dawkins even went on to post a tweet questioning if trans women are women.  It stated ‘Is a trans woman a woman?  Purely semantic.  If you define by chromosomes, no.  If by self-identification, yes.  I call her ‘she’ out of courtesy.’

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Both series of tweets have been met with a number of complaints, prompting Dawkins to go on the defensive, even complaining that he was getting hate after stating that he ‘wished to be courteous’.

The things that Dawkins fails to understand is this;

Yes, a university may not be a ‘safe space’, but to claim that people who disagree with a ‘distinguished scholar’ should not be at university is farcical.  At the best Dawkins is trying to say that there should be no room for any debate or differing opinions in a place of learning.  At worst Dawkins is completely blind to the idea that prejudice views can be harmful.

Because that’s the thing, Germaine Greer isn’t simply giving an alternative view to other people, she’s spouting abusive words and statements designed to demonise and invalidate trans women.  She’s using every platform she can to use slur words like he/she and claim that trans women are always and forever men, opposing the spread of such sentiments isn’t censoring ‘views they think are nonsense’.

If a university, or any establishment, booked a speaker who expressed deeply homophobic or racist views people would be praised for trying to stop the spread of that kind of hate speech, but as far a Dawkins seems to be concerned when it comes to trans women it’s simply disagreeing with someone.

Something that can be seen as being supported by his follow up tweets, stating that trans women are not women because of their chromosomes.  Despite anything else said in that tweet, or in follow up tweets he did say that trans women are not women.

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Turning around and saying that if it’s down to self-identification then trans women are women, or that he calls trans women ”she’ out of courtesy’ means nothing after that first statement.  He’s giving those who would argue against trans women’s identity a clear cut statement that trans women are not women.

And to say he calls trans women ”she’ out of courtesy’ is downright insulting.  If you call a trans woman she ‘out of courtesy’ rather than because you believe she’s a woman you’re basically saying that she’s not a woman.  I don’t call people he to be courteous, I do it because that’s who they are.

Once again though, this is a case of someone feeling that because they’re ‘famous’ and because it’s the transgender community they’re completely immune to the consequences of the hate speech they spout, of the insults and disrespect they feel they’re entitled to say.  He insulted the trans community and their supporters, but now that he’s being called out on that he’s ‘getting hate’.

Well yes Richard, you are getting hate.  You’re getting exactly what you deserve for spouting false, hateful opinions as fact and expecting to get away with it.  You are not a ‘victim’ in this, you are not the wronged party.  If you didn’t want to have people complain about you and call you out on what you say, don’t spout hate towards minority groups.


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Amy Walker
Amy is a journalist and editor contributing the websites Planet Transgender, Gay News Network, The Bottle Episode, The Retro Box and Claire Channel. Amy is also a published comic book writer and letterer. In addition to her writing Amy has also worked with the Centre For Hate Crime Studies in Leicester and has worked in the capacity of an advisor to the United Nations Entity For Gender Equality and The Empowerment of Women.


  1. I love it, you completely miss the point. You’re arguing that sex/gender is completely binary (“I do it because that’s who they are”). You’re just as bad as the people who don’t understand that there are non-XX-or-XY genetics, or biological sex vs social gender, or trans differences in people. You’re completely ignoring that there are some medical treatments where chromosomes matter, and some where hormones matter, and some where appearance matters. Yes, people should be able to decide what gender they want to be and how they want to be addressed, but that isn’t the entirety of “who they are”.

  2. My General Biology 201 class at Towson University taught that a person receives one chromosome from each parent; each parent contributes one half of the whole genetic code to the offspring. 1 chromosome + 1 chromosome = 2 chromosomes. Biological genetics is binary.

  3. “to claim that people who disagree with a ‘distinguished scholar’ should not be at university is farcical. At the best Dawkins is trying to say that there should be no room for any debate or differing opinions in a place of learning.”

    Except that, according to your account, he didn’t claim that people who disagree should not be at university. You quote him as saying, ‘Students who suppress a distinguished scholar’s lecture because they disagree with her have no place in a university.’

    See the difference? He is expressing opposition to those who are trying to suppress opinions; he is emphatically not saying “there should be no room for any debate or differing opinions in a place of learning.” I’ve no time for Dawkins away from his books but you have misrepresented him here.

  4. He wouldn’t respond with censorship, that’s for sure. But the point is that you generally have to EARN the right to speak at a university by having gained a reputable level of scholarship. Germaine Greer has done that, whether you agree with her or not.

    It’s not just about having ‘opposing views’. It’s about having a sound basis for your arguments that can be explored in debate. Creationists and their like cannot do that as they simply defer to the magical properties of their invisible god.

  5. Wow, what an idiotic article. It’s like this so-called journalist lacks basic reading comprehension skills, even when someone elucidates their points in plain English.

    Richard Dawkins is a man of science and a world-renown biologist. So, when he says words to the effect of, “A transgender woman is not actually a woman *IF* we are using a definition based on chromosomes,” he is merely stating an OBJECTIVE SCIENTIFIC FACT. There isn’t even a debate here. If this wasn’t true, the very word ‘transgender’ shouldn’t even exist, as it would simply have no meaning.

    But then he basically says that if we class genders in terms of self-identification, then a transgender woman should be treated as any other woman, and he personally would show every due respect to a person who identifies themselves as such. What the flying eff is wrong with that?

  6. How would Dawkins respond to ‘ opposing views’ of new earth creationism, or astrologers, or snake-oil sales men being hosted on campus?
    Greer’s ‘gender studies’ are nothing but emotional drivel, and IMHO have no place in a university.

  7. Why do you twist the truth so?
    How can you lie so blatantly and pretend you have an actual point?

    Saying that Dawkins is anti debate, after he just finishes standing up for opposing views to be hear, on campus, -a place where you should think and not be coddled?

    Disingenuous to say the least.

    I get that you’re trying to make it as a writer, but shameful misquoted, inflammatory comments, only attract audiences that don’t like to think. Not the kind you find on campus.

    If that’s your target audience, numb-skulks, you’re doing a great job! However to attract thinking individuals, you’ll have to start being honest.

  8. Please help me understand this.

    You say it’s not about chromosomes because they do not determine how a person identifies in terms of gender, and that it is this self-identification which should count.

    Dawkins says that if people’s self-identification deviates from their chromosomes, he respect this as their identity.

    How is “it’s up to you to decide who you are, not to me” a hateful opinion? How is the clear-cut “if you base a woman’s identify on self-identification” diminished as support of trans rights by “I choose to do so out of respect”?

    He says it’s not up to him to make this decision for another person. You say this is not acceptable. Somehow, this means he is a hateful person. Why?

  9. Germaine Greer has spent a life time inciting distrust and marginalization of transgender people. Her ‘distinguished scholar’ status us highly questionable as her gender studies opinions do not qualify as science, and were not peer reviewed.

    A man like Dawkins should be aware that chromosomes can easily be overridden with hormones and other endocrine disruptors during fetal development: Gender identity depends on how the brain develops and is independent of one’s gonads.


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