Princeton professor: ‘Human Sex Is Not Binary’

‘That human sex rests on a biological binary of making either sperm or ova…’ is ‘bad science,’ wrote the professor.

‘For humans, sex is dynamic, biological, cultural and enmeshed in feedback cycles with our environments,’ argued Fuentes.

Princeton University professor Agustín Fuentes recently published an article in the Scientific American, arguing that biological sex in humans is not binary.

The article, titled “Here’s Why Human Sex Is Not Binary,” was published in response to an April Wall Street Journal article, titled “A Biologist Explains Why Sex Is Binary.”

According to Fuentes, the idea “that human sex rests on a biological binary of making either sperm or ova…” is “bad science.”

“For humans, sex is dynamic, biological, cultural and enmeshed in feedback cycles with our environments, ecologies and multiple physiological and social processes,” argues Fuentes.

Fuentes claims that there exists significant evidence to support his argument. 

“Plentiful data and analyses support the assertions that sex is very complex in humans and that binary and simplistic explanations for human sex biology are either wholly incorrect or substantially incomplete,” he said. 

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To Fuentes, a traditional view of biology has far-reaching negative consequences for issues such as abortion and transgenderism. 

“Over the past few centuries this process of misrepresentation of biology was, and still is, used to deny women rights and to justify legal and societal misogyny and inequity, to justify slavery, racialization, racism and to enforce multiple forms of discrimination and bias,” said Fuentes.

“Today dishonest ascriptions of what biology is are being deployed to restrict women’s bodily autonomy, target LGBTQIA+ individuals broadly and, most recently, attack the rights of transexual and transgender people,” he added.

Fuentes expressed cynicism regarding those who believe that biological sex is binary.  

“...efforts to represent human sex as binary based solely on what gametes one produces are not about biology but are about trying to restrict who counts as a full human in society,” he said.

However, Fuentes conceded that one cannot change their biological sex.

“A biological male cannot become a biological female, nor vice-versa, in humans,” Fuentes told Campus Reform. “But that is not at all what my essay is about.” 

“The actual take home point is the subtitle: ‘Ova don’t make a woman and sperm don’t make a man,’” he continued.

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When asked whether he was surprised at the publicity his article received, Fuentes noted his discontent with Fox News’ coverage of it. 

“I did not speak with Fox, said Fuentes, adding that the outlet “just cut and pasted from my Scientific American Article,” he told Campus Reform

Fuentes is an American primatologist and professor of Anthropology at Princeton. 

Princeton University did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication.  

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