CNN Claims ‘There Is No Consensus Criteria For Assigning Sex At Birth’ In News Article

CNN reported as fact on Tuesday that the meaning of “biological sex” is disputed and that “no consensus” exists for knowing a person’s sex at birth.

The network published the claims in a news piece on South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s ongoing battle over legislation that would ban biological males from participating in women’s sports in her state. The piece, titled “South Dakota’s governor issues executive orders banning transgender athletes from women’s sports,” was written by breaking news reporter Devon Cole.

Cole wrote:

Though the two executive orders signed by Noem do not explicitly mention transgender athletes, they reference the supposed harms of the participation of “males” in women’s athletics – an echo of the transphobic claim, cited in other similar legislative initiatives, that transgender women are not women. The orders also reference “biological sex,” a disputed term that refers to the sex as listed on students’ original birth certificates.

It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth.

CNN updated the article on Wednesday after it received blowback online “to provide additional explanation as to the distinctions between gender and sex,” according to an editor’s note. The claim about “no consensus for assigning sex at birth” was removed from the new version of the article, and an explanation for why “biological sex” is a disputed term was added.

The new version reads:

Though the two executive orders signed by Noem do not explicitly mention transgender athletes, they reference the supposed harms of the participation of “males” in women’s athletics – an echo of the transphobic claim, cited in other similar legislative initiatives, that transgender women are not women. The orders also reference “biological sex,” a disputed term that refers to the sex as listed on students’ original birth certificates.

It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and for some people, the sex listed on their original birth certificate is a misleading way of describing the body they have.

While sex is a category that refers broadly to physiology, a person’s gender is an innate sense of identity. The factors that go into determining the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate may include anatomy, genetics and hormones, and there is broad natural variation in each of these categories. For this reason, the language of “biological sex,” as used in this legislation, can be overly simplistic and misleading.

CNN did not immediately return a request for comment.

The original story’s claims put forward as fact by CNN drew attention online as the network faced accusations of lying and idiocy.

“If you believe CNN’s last paragraph here, it is because you are an idiot,” said Ben Shapiro, cofounder and editor emeritus of The Daily Wire. “All mammalian biology is sexually dimorphic. Small children can tell the difference between biological boys and girls accurately nearly 100% of the time. The question of whether any of those people suffer from gender dysphoria is a different question.”

Tim Carney, a conservative columnist at The Washington Examiner said: “We know how to assign sex at birth. CNN is literally lying to you in asserting otherwise. The writer and editor know the difference between a baby boy and a baby girl. It’s rank dishonesty in service of culture war.”

Ethics and Public Policy Center President Ryan Anderson, author of “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment,” replied to Carney, saying, “Tim is, of course, entirely correct about CNN and that ridiculous ‘news’ story. One minor note about language though: We don’t ‘assign’ sex – we recognize and acknowledge a natural reality. I recognized my son is a boy – I didn’t assign it. ‘Assign’ implies convention/choice.”

“One reason this matters: The gender activists use ‘sex assigned at birth’ to create conceptual space for sex to be ‘re-assigned’ by hormones and surgery,” Anderson added.

Conservative views on transgenderism are being forcibly marginalized and treated as fringe beliefs outside the mainstream by powerful media and technology companies. Amazon recently pulled Anderson’s book on transgenderism from its online store.

“We reserve the right not to sell certain content,” Brian Huseman, Amazon vice president of public policy, wrote in a letter earlier this month explaining the decision to pull Anderson’s book. “All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer, as do we. As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”

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