BuzzFeed ruins its own point in misleading piece

April 7, 2023

By Tim Worstall

BuzzFeed News mangles the point it wants to make by insisting on using currently fashionable language. So much so that they become purveyors of disinformation.

The trans issue is somewhat fraught, but that’s exactly why clarity matters. Certainly, we’ve had multitudes of different perceptions of gender roles over time and geography. It wasn’t that long ago that women were barred from many jobs and that married women were expected not to work. We’re all delighted that such views of gender have changed – along with being equally delighted that it has all devolved to personal choice.

The same linguistic distinction said that sex was immutable, the thing that happened at conception. There are real differences between sexes, something that we cannot decide to just either overlook or ignore. The most obvious is the muscular difference between those who have been through male puberty and those who have not. These are so large that ignoring them in a full-on contact sport like football, or rugby, will lead to people dying of injuries.

Logic then tells us that we need to maintain this linguistic distinction. What is it that actually matters in differentiating between those conceived one way or the other and what is it that can be societally determined as we wish? That is, what are the attributes of sex, what are those of gender? This brings us to the discussion of trans issues and sports.

Why do we have a “women’s” category in sports? Because in many sports, the influence of puberty is determinative. Mixed-sex full-contact football is an absurdity as well as being extremely dangerous. Where it doesn’t matter – equestrianism – then we don’t in fact have a women’s partition or section.

The current fashion is to insist that these physical sex-based differences don’t matter. That we can societally just declare that they are no more. This brings us to BuzzFeed News and its linguistic confusion. They’ve drunk the logical Kool-Aid so much that they can’t even get the words right:

A New Ban On Trans Girls And Women In School Sports Could Lead To “Invasive Examinations” Of Student-Athletes To Prove Their Gender, Advocates Say

You cannot determine someone’s gender by looking in their underpants. You can determine sex that way. So, when we insist upon sex-based discriminations then physical examinations are a useful technique. And yes, sometimes we really do need to make sex-based discriminations. Cervical smears for those without a cervix aren’t useful, and prostate exams for those genetically lacking a prostate are an equal waste of societal resources. Even, the very reason we have sex-based sporting categories is that without them half the species will be dominated by the other half. Therefore, given that we are already making that sex – and not gender – discrimination it must be sex we base it upon, not gender.

Now, all of the above is obvious and logical and even linguistically correct. So, what’s wrong with BuzzFeed? It’s managed to get so caught up in the currently fashionable, even political, insistences that its headline is incapable of grasping the difference between sex and gender. It’s perpetuating that current fashion to mislead, since it is a political claim that it is sex that is mutable, not gender alone.


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