Richard Dawkins drew criticism Saturday (10 April) for a provocative tweet that compared trans people to Rachel Dolezal.
On Saturday morning, an entire minute after tweeting about the late Prince Phillip’s top hat, the evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist abruptly gave his take on trans lives that absolutely nobody asked for.
Dawkins compared trans folk to Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who appropriated a Black identity while pursuing Black activism and academia.
“In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black,” Dawkins wrote.
“Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men.
“You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as,” he said, before asking his nearly three million followers to “discuss” his thoughts.
Dolezal once likened herself to trans people. At the time, her words were rebutted by the psychologist and author Guilaine Kinouani, who told BBC Newsnight: “Comparing [being trans] with trans-racialism is a fallacy. It’s a false equivalency, which in my mind doesn’t advance our understanding of race, of transgender issues, neither of Black womanhood. [She’s a] white woman who’s quite oblivious to the fact that Black women’s experiences and bodies have been appropriated.”
Similarly, Dawkins’ comment quickly became a lightning rod for criticism, with trans folk and allies responding with frustration and exhaustion.
The 80-year-old has also questioned whether a “trans woman is a woman” previously, before calling it all “semantics”.
“If you define by chromosomes, no,” he wrote. “If by self-identification, yes. I call her ‘she’ out of courtesy.”
His post was met with a backlash among both LGBT+ rights advocates and scientists alike, criticising Dawkins for compressing people to just chromosomes.
Richard Dawkins has been contacted for comment.