March 4, 2024 - 11:10am

For thousands of years, the fact that human beings come in two sexes was obvious and unquestioned. Now, almost three out of 10 British scientists have said in a poll that they don’t believe sex is binary. Almost two-thirds believe that “gender” is fluid, whatever that means.

It’s the equivalent of discovering that a sizeable proportion of scientists believe the earth is flat or fairies exist at the bottom of the garden. And it should worry us because of all the policies which are being pushed by people who promote the fiction that biological sex is not fixed.

Destroying the sex binary is central to gender ideology, which is why it’s always been a key demand of trans activists. If there is anywhere this unscientific nonsense should be challenged, it’s in universities, yet only 58% of academics in the survey agreed with the statement “sex is binary”. A full 29% disagreed, while 13% claimed to have no view or preferred not to answer.

More than half the almost 200 scientists who took part in the survey, conducted by the Telegraph and Censuswide, had been educated to PhD level. Even more astonishingly, 13% were in medicine and 12% in life sciences. If people don’t accept as basic a fact of life as the division of human beings into two sexes, it’s hard to see how they can claim to be doing science at all.

If sex is not immutable, it means people can in essence define themselves at will — and insist that everyone else goes along with it. We’ve already seen the consequences as male sex offenders demand to be housed in women’s prisons and male athletes take medals and prize money from biological women.

The confusion between sex and gender is equally alarming. “Gender” is used in so many ways, including as a synonym for sex, as to be pretty much meaningless. If almost 64% of scientists regard it as “fluid”, it would be interesting to hear their definition of the word.

Allowing the confusion to continue has real-life consequences. Some people, including many women, want to be treated by a doctor of the same sex. Yet the General Medical Council recently admitted that, under pressure from trans activists, it no longer collects data on the sex of doctors, only their “gender”. This means that trans-identifying male GPs could list themselves as female on its public register — and critics claim that several have already done so.

As this survey shows, higher education is no longer an entirely effective inoculation against propaganda. It should worry vice-chancellors that so many people working in their institutions don’t have a grasp of basic biology, and are so lacking in critical thinking that they accept even the most outlandish claims about human beings.

It’s cheering that Professor Alice Sullivan is leading a review of sex and gender data in research across the public sector, with the capacity to look at other institutions including universities. But every day brings new evidence of how deeply gender ideology has penetrated every aspect of our lives — and the urgent need to stand up for reality.

Joan Smith is a novelist and columnist. She has been Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board since 2013. Her book Homegrown: How Domestic Violence Turns Men Into Terrorists was published in 2019.