Years of ignoring Jerry Coyne, a record ruined by the fact that I felt obligated to find out what he’s complaining about in order to address that recent bad article…and what do I find? His usual half-assed whining about people different from him.
When I gave a lecture in the Deep South some years ago, I went to dinner with several of the biology faculty, who told me of the occurrence of “furries” (actually, better known as “otherkins”) among the students. “Otherkins” are students who dress up and act like nonhuman animals in their day-to-day life. But the group the profs were really concerned with were students who identified as animals, claiming that they had the spirit of animals, insisting on being addressed as the animal they identified with, and wore animal costumes like ears or tails. These are the true “otherkins”. I saw several of these, including one girl who had a horse tail stuck in the back of her pants. The professors told me that they had been given special instruction by the university on how to treat and deal with the otherkins.
I haven’t seen any otherkins at my University, but this Torygraph article (click on the screenshot to go to the archived piece) notes that it is an issue in Britain, and schools don’t know how to deal with it. I was sent this article by a Brit who couldn’t believe that the phenomenon was real. I assured my correspondent that yes, this is a reality.
Oh god. No, it’s not real. Furries/otherkin do exist, but they are fully aware of their identities — they just enjoy role-playing. Seeing a girl with a horsetail stuck in her pants does not mean they’re running around, thinking they are a horse, and that the university needs to provide special instructions for how to deal with them. Just talk to them. You know, like they’re human beings. That works. I’ve even attended a furry convention, and honestly, it’s no more weird than attending a D&D con…or an atheist convention.
What next? Is he going to declare that American schools are putting out kitty litter for the kids who identify as cats?
Anyway, in this case he credulously goes on to tell the story of kids in England thinking they are cats and other animals.
Perhaps tellingly, the incident at Rye College – a Church of England school – happened at the end of a class on “life education” in which children were told by their teacher that there were lots of genders, including “agender – people who don’t believe that they have a gender at all”.
An argument ensued in which two pupils disagreed with the teacher, saying there was no such thing as agender, because “if you have a vagina, you’re a girl and if you have a penis, you’re a boy – that’s it”.
When the pupils told their classmate: “How can you identify as a cat when you’re a girl?” the teacher reprimanded them for “questioning [the child’s] identity”.
In this instance, the teacher in charge of the class appears to have bracketed a child’s desire to be treated as a cat with other children’s desire to be treated as another gender, or genderless.
To Coyne, this is evidence of his bigoted presumption that
this is a case of social contagion promulgated by both peers and also by teachers who have been indoctrinated by gender activism to accept any child’s assumed identity. Indoctrination! Gender activism! Social contagion!
Except…that’s not what happened at all. It’s all hyper-inflated hyperbole from the UK news media. The school has said it didn’t happen.
In a statement to Schools Week, the trust said it wanted to “clarify that no children at Rye College identifies as a cat or any other animal”.
Doesn’t matter. By then, GB News, the Daily Mail, and Tucker Carlson were promoting the kind of nonsense that finds favor with Coyne, all based on a brief Tik Tok excerpt of a longer discussion held in the classroom. One reporter, Otto English, dug deeper and interviewed one of the people involved.
We have taken the time both to establish this individual’s credibility and to safeguard their identity and as such the individual is anonymous and some critical details given to us have been deliberately omitted. I am very aware that the two children who made the recording are also just that – children – and so have taken care to omit details about them and some of the things they are alleged to have said on the day.
I shall refer to the ‘cat’ pupil as ‘Student A’ and the two individuals who made the tape as “B” and “C”.
Our correspondent – present in the room – tells us: I want to make (it) clear that ‘A’ does not identify as a cat.
What, by our source’s account, happened is that there was an ongoing conversation happening between several pupils about identity before B and C engaged with them and – according to our source – as the discussion became increasingly personal and ill-tempered, either B or C then said, apropos of gender: ‘if you identify as a cat or a carrot you are insane’.
In other words, nobody was talking about ‘cats’ until the subject of them was introduced into the conversation by one of the two pupils who later made the recording. This was a broad-ranging conversation about gender and identity between a group of kids in Year 8 which seems to have turned nasty before the teacher intervened.
Our source defends the teacher and says that having started out ‘extremely calm’ she only became ‘irritable’ when the two students became increasingly ‘disrespectful’.
That’s it. People can be grumpy when arguing about sex and gender — Coyne should know, he’s a good example. That’s all this was, young people expressing their opinions, and there were no cat-people involved.
It’s simply a British example of the litter boxes in the classroom lie that was spread over here on this side of the Atlantic, and anyone who falls for it should not be taken seriously.