CNN Quietly Changes Article Claiming There Is No Scientific Consensus for What Determines Biological Sex


A CNN news article went viral among conservatives for claiming that there is no “consensus criteria” for assigning sex, male or female, at birth—a backlash that prompted the network to quietly update that line in the story.

In an article about a pair of executive orders signed by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem barring biological males from competing in women’s and girls’ athletics in schools and colleges, writer Devan Cole made the contentious statement.

When it was originally published, the article read, in part:

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. [emphasis added]

Since CNN has not yet issued a statement saying exactly what caused them to change that last sentence, we can only hope that it’s because they realized the simple fact that genetics—most obviously evidenced by genitalia—determine biological sex.

Cole went on to justify his claim, brazenly injecting gender theory propaganda into what was put forth as a piece of journalism:

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.

Countless conservative commentators pounced on Cole, including David Reaboi, who wrote that it was “INSANITY” and highlighted the fact that this was a news story, not an opinion piece:

Journalist and author Jesse Singal said, “I can’t get over this, man. In a new story. Not a column.”

After the shocking claim went viral, CNN quietly updated the article to say instead that “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.”

“CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to provide additional explanation as to the distinctions between gender and sex,” the update disclaimer at the end of the article now reads, without mentioning the original statement that has been removed from the article.

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