This biology teacher destroyed transphobic myths with one science lesson
“Alternative facts” have become par for the course in 2017, so it’s more important than ever to use good, old-fashioned “real facts” to combat bigotry. When she saw a hateful, factually inaccurate meme on Facebook, a biology teacher used science to take down transphobia. The original post, which described being transgender as a “psychological disorder” tried (and failed) to use science as an excuse for transphobia.
The offensive meme claims that chromosomes define two sexes in sexual species, so anything other than an XX (female) or XY (male) chromosome pairing is a mutation. According to the meme, the chromosome pairing determines our gender. Sex and gender aren’t the same thing, but there’s a whole lot of other scientific information that totally destroys this argument.
I’m not a bigot it’s just science," the caption read.
Who better to tackle this outrageous claim than a biology teacher? Grace Pokela stepped up to provide the perfect response.
"First of all, in a sexual species, you can have females be XX and males be X (insects), you can have females be ZW and males be ZZ (birds), you can have females be females because they developed in a warm environment and males be males because they developed in a cool environment (reptiles), you can have females be females because they lost a penis sword fighting contest (some flatworms), you can have males be males because they were born female, but changed sexes because the only male in their group died (parrotfish and clownfish)," Pokela explained.
Although the original poster naturally didn’t clarify whether or not they were discussing humans (because apparently discussions about people’s lives and identities aren’t worthy of those details), Pokela elaborated further.
"Oh, did you mean humans? Oh ok then. You can be male because you were born female, but you have 5-alphareductase deficiency and so you grew a penis at age 12. You can be female because you have an X and a Y chromosome but you are insensitive to androgens, and so you have a female body. You can be female because you have an X and a Y chromosome but your Y is missing the SRY gene, and so you have a female body. You can be male because you have two X chromosomes, but one of your X's HAS an SRY gene, and so you have a male body. You can be male because you have two X chromosomes- but also a Y," she wrote. "You can be female because you have only one X chromosome at all. And you can be male because you have two X chromosomes, but your heart and brain are male. And vice - effing - versa."
“Don’t use science to justify your bigotry. The world is way too weird for that shit.”
Unfortunately, we can’t always change people’s prejudiced thought patterns — but it is on us to call them out when they attempt to use “fake science” and present alternative facts as reality.
“Facts have become so nebulous recently, Pokela told The Observer. “To see someone spouting such rage towards a truly oppressed group made me very upset. Using falsehoods to promote hate just rubbed me the wrong way.
It’s dangerous to let these statements go unchecked, especially when it comes a community that is already the target of hate crimes.
Claiming there’s a scientific reason for any form of discrimination further endangers transgender individuals at a time when the current administration has removed some of their most basic protections.
Pokela provided some accessible, enlightening information that we should keep on hand in case we ever hear a “scientific” argument used to justify transphobia. We can never let “alternative facts” be normalized.