Binary troll alert!

You can entertain yourself by reading the responses to a transphobic troll on the Coyne & Maroja thread. I won’t bother with most of it — the commenters have been doing a fine cleanup job — but their first objection is a major peeve.

Biological sex is a binary defining reproductive roles/potential. It doesn’t govern behaviour, it doesn’t tell you who you can sleep with, it doesn’t deny the existence of trans people. The day a testicle produces ova or an ovary produces sperm there may be an argument for rethinking it, but dishonestly claiming that it has any more relevance than that does not alter reality.

The first words annoy me. Biological sex…what other kind is there? They then go on to claim that sex is only about reproduction, a surprise to me. I guess they only have procreative sex then, and are unaware of all the other ways humans use sex. It’s just eggs and sperm, nothing else, and reducing it to single cells interacting with each other is the extreme they have to go to if they’re going to fit it all into a small, simple, binary box.

I also have to wonder who the hell is arguing about testicles producing ova? This is so typical, the ‘phobes inventing claims nobody is making so they can “win” ridiculous debates.


  1. larpar says

    If you ignore everything that doesn’t fit into the box (or in this case, two boxes) then everything fits in the box.

  2. wzrd1 says

    This is a really old “argument” that I’ve finally caught onto their supporting argument that’s confused me for years.
    Apparently, when my wife was still alive, we weren’t supposed to have intercourse at all, as she had went through menopause and since the purpose of sex to them is exclusively reproductive, sex was an aberration.
    The thing is, the truth is more likely to be, for them having anyone to want to have sex with them is an aberration, due to revulsion. It’s literally a 7th Day Adventist argument that was warmed over after decaying, left in the sun too long, then served up as a fresh dish.
    They recycle, retread and recompost all manner of old argument to support their theory, bending facts to fit theory in ever so unimaginative ways and proclaim it a robust theory.
    Still, minds and hence brains have nothing to do with reproduction in their world. I’ll give them that under one condition, that they concede that their theory has absolutely no brain and mind behind it as well.

  3. chrislawson says

    An atom is by definition indivisible. That’s what atom means. Therefore subatomic particles do not exist. QED.

  4. salvelinus says

    They use circular reasoning:

    1) Defining sex as binary
    2) Finding the single trait that is made of only 2 kinds (ie gametes size) while ignoring the plethora of other traits.
    3) Say sex is binary because of that single trait

  5. says

    Binary sex. Holy shit….

    Uh, there’s a species of all female lizards that reproduce via parthenogenesis. Also a species of female crayfish that do the same. There’s at least one species of single celled organisms that has 8 sexes. Pictures of a half male and female cardinal exist. Hell, SciShow has a video on YouTube that is titled “Science Proves that There are More Than Two Human Sexes”.

    “But middle school biology…!”
    Isn’t very advanced. Reality is. Deal with that. Jeez.

  6. cartomancer says

    Binary sex? That’s sex involving one or zero people, isn’t it? Or, as I call it, “sex”.

  7. mordred says

    @2 Some years ago when gay marriage was the main battlefield of the right wingers fight against reality, I argued with an online troll who claimed that gay marriage was evil/unnatural because it did not lead to offspring. I pointed out that there are quite a few people put there who can’t have children, and asked if they should be excluded from marriage also.
    Answer: Sex between men and women can always “in essence” result in procreation.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    “Biological sex”…what other kind is there?

    Do a search for “robot sex” or “machine sex” on an unfiltered search engine for a wide array of tutorials on that very question. (Warning – most apparently do include bio-organisms – search of “piston in chamber” for the real hard-core stuff.)

    Obligatory warning: Not Safe For Work or Mental Serenity.

  9. raven says

    There’s at least one species of single celled organisms that has 8 sexes.

    There are multicellular organisms that have a lot more sexes than that.

    What mushroom has 23000 sexes?
    Why This Fungus Has Over 20,000 Sexes | Discover Magazine
    One species of fungi, Schizophyllum commune, really shines when it comes to gender diversity. The white, fan-shaped mushroom has more than 23,000 different sexual identities, a result of widespread differentiation in the genetic locations that govern its sexual behavior.Nov 6, 2017

    Why This Fungus Has Over 20000 Sexes – Discover Magazine › planet-earth › why

    Fungi can have more than 2 sexes.
    In fact, there are species that have thousands or tens of thousands of sexes.

    Some invertebrates also have more than 2 sexes.
    “Clam shrimp have a male as well as two varieties of hermaphrodite, which either self-fertilize or mate with males but cannot mate with each other.”

  10. says

    I was a bit too strong with the tourette syndrome and gender-null connections and resistance to negative feeling symbolic language.
    Rather than the point for the species I should have typed “a point for the species”. Especially since I can’t strongly tie the TS itself to gendered information specifically, but TS seems compatible with intensity in language. Anecdotally I may have been prevented from bonding with gendered language due to trauma, the gendered person they wanted me to bond with having to be absent so much, or I may have always been resistant to such bonding. Too many variables still.

  11. StevoR says

    @ 9. raven : “Fungi can have more than 2 sexes. In fact, there are species that have thousands or tens of thousands of sexes.”

    Man, those fungi sure get a lot of sex! Spore! ;-)

  12. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 7

    Answer: Sex between men and women can always “in essence” result in procreation.

    Let me guess: The child existed “outside space and time.”

  13. unclefrogy says

    well yes that is what they have been saying all along simply any sex that is not about just making babies is sinful, because sex is at base sinful. The degree of self loathing that lives at the center of the religion that comes out of the middle east crowned by chritianity really is astonishing

  14. says

    In the old testicle book of onanism, verse 69 it is written ‘and Luke said, behold, jebus is coming soon.’ See, it is all about sex!

  15. birgerjohansson says

    ..”biological sex…”
    As distinct from digital sex that is found in Hentai.

  16. wzrd1 says

    birgerjohansson, digital sex, isn’t that just masturbation?

    unclefrogy, I always found it fascinating how they find sex sinful, when the very first command given to all life is “be fruitful and multiply”. I guess they think we should multiply by binary division, like their peer bacteria do.
    Sorry, way too much work. I’ll stick with budding.

  17. Ada Christine says

    i skimmed the thread. some stuff about stuff. there was one point in particular that piqued my interest though

    So if you really did resoect beliefs you would have more respect for the women who dont want to share their spaces with trans people.

    i’m curious why they said “trans people” here and not “trans women”? is it’s the stereotypical transphobe forgetting that trans men exist?

  18. Steve Morrison says

    “Biological sex”…what other kind is there?

    Technically there’s also grammatical gender, but I doubt that’s what was intended.

  19. John Morales says

    Ada, trans people in womens sports is even better.

    I think they were just trying to be subtle and didn’t realise they were being obvious.

  20. says

    As I have stated for a long time, people are not strictly binary, there are many who are not clearly one sex or the other or are different in many other ways. This reinforces that:
    It notes a BBC production profiling adults born with intersex traits >> nearly 2% of the general population << and how the medical community is often to blame for mutilating babies to jam them into one of two boxes as Male or Female on the pitiful birth certificates

  21. Ada Christine says

    @John #22

    i missed that one or gave up before seeing it, but it fits with the m.o. of your average gendercrit-type transphobe.

  22. says

    There’s only one binary regarding sex: Having it (1) or not (0)? OK, does watching so much porn it results in, umm, “nocturnal emissions” count? How about just really, really vivid “impure thoughts”? And where does “lust” fit in here?

    Man, I can’t even state my own obvious definition without undermining it…

    The real problem is that as soon as volition enters the picture at all, “binary” so grossly misrepresents matters that the very concept is meaningless. That’s not just for sex; it’s for pretty much anything that involves complex behavior. Consider, for a moment, a bully’s threat “I’m gonna break yer arm” — would any fracture of any bone suffice? How about a strike that dislocates the elbow without causing bone damage? What if the bully misses the arm entirely and cracks a rib?

    Of course, almost none of those proclaiming their own definitions of binary sex are getting to a value of 1 in that first paragraph, so…

  23. Tethys says

    anarchic teapot

    Does the gibbering dweeb think we should be offended by this?

    I was pleased to discover that despite the binary troll inventing cultural conflicts from thin air, the only instance of a newsworthy event that involved “A LGBTQ flag in front of a mosque.” is that a Berlin mosque displayed the LGBTQ flag in solidarity during Pride events last July.

  24. Ada Christine says

    @Jaws #26

    and isn’t that just the key failure in their way of thinking? their certainty in the abstraction. their belief that science is about rigid classifications and categorizations that are unchanging, pure, and conveniently aligned with their ideological predisposition. that’s a very unscientific mindset if you ask me.

  25. John Morales says

    [Jaws, old joke about filling in the application form.
    Sex? “yes, please.”]

  26. Thornapple says

    Really needs to be mentioned that this troll isn’t some religious conservative-type, judging from their comments. The troll also claimed they have no idea who Coyne is, and yet there they are, repeating and defending claims of a person they supposed to not heard of.
    This isn’t something new. There are always certain subset of atheists/skeptics who claimed they don’t know who a Dawkins or a Coyne is, and yet somehow can recite from memory the same pseudo-scientific facts by said assholes about certain minorities, like blacks, Muslims or trans people.

  27. wzrd1 says

    Well, many of those isotopes are preverts, spreading preversion throughout the universe. What with those prevert alphas, betas and gammas…
    That’s why i drink rainwater and pure grain alcohol…

  28. KG says

    So if you really did resoect beliefs you would have more respect for the women who dont want to share their spaces with trans people. – Ada Christine@20 quoting transphobic troll

    And presumably white people who don’t want to share their spaces with Blacks, Gentiles who don’t want to share their spaces with Jews, straights who don’t want to share their spaces with gays…

  29. John Morales says

    Heh, KG. Didn’t take long to elicit that, did it?

    Sealion was following a script, essentially — but the facade that it was all about the biology and the bias of PZ and his minions crumbled quickly enough.

    I give the flounce a 4/20 — seen far cringier.

    (Or: this is still Pharyngula!)

  30. John Morales says

    [meta + OT]

    StevoR, YouTube tells me I must sign in to confirm my age. :)
    Alas, I must either miss out or fiddle for maybe even minutes to access the content. But, since I’ve seen snippets of that show and thought it pretty shitty, I’m not gonna bother.

    (I know damn well YouTube knows who I am, to the degree required.
    I reset the cookies and whatnot every now and then and start afresh, but my hardware signature and my dynamic IP only change irregularly, and my patterns are discernible to a machine. And, obviously, signing in would be a concession.
    I use YouTube, it does not use me)

  31. birgerjohansson says

    Let us not forget jews who don’t want to share space with Goyim.
    Under the ultra-nationalist government in Israel, conservative Christian tourists have recently been shocked when they have been accosted by ultraortodox jews.
    “But….you are only supposed to discriminate against muslims!”

  32. Ada Christine says


    I’m not keen to make those comparisons myself. that isn’t to say that there aren’t parallels, bigotry being what it is, but my experiences as a trans person are distinct.

  33. birgerjohansson says

    I watched “The Hidden” where a young Paul Atreides/agent Cooper plays a cop chasing an alien parasite that keeps switching human hosts.

    That human/Alien combo would have at least three genders. Maybe four.
    And the narrative universe of the film is at least as realistic as the paranoid fantasy that serves as conservative world view.

  34. says

    2) Finding the single trait that is made of only 2 kinds (ie gametes size) while ignoring the plethora of other traits.

    Do transphobes really believe that all human eggs are the same size as all other human eggs? Gamete “size” is not binary: it’s different in every gamete cell.

    Of course, that’s beside the much larger issues with trying to define sex solely in terms of gametes. Namely,
    1)Gamete production changes throughout your lifetime, and we can change it with surgery. For example, I do not have any gametes. This contradicts the transphobes other doctrine that it’s “biologically impossible to change sex.”

    2)Gametes are irrelevant to the vast majority of situations transphobes pretend to be concerned about. You don’t use gametes when playing sports, for example.

  35. Ada Christine says

    @183231bcb #40

    it’s the possibility and essencethat you could produce one gamete or another based on your karyotype assumed from your physical characteristics!

  36. says

    Yes, the possibility. That’s usually what I hear from transphobes when I point out point (1). So the goalposts move from “sex is gametes” to “sex is hypothetical alternate-universe time-travel gametes.”

    And that’s where point (2) comes in. Gametes are irrelevant to the vast majority of situations transphobes pretend to care about. Literally the only time gametes matter is in reproductive health.

    But hypothetical alternate-universe time-travel gametes are irrelevant to every situation. Even reproductive medicine. There’s no reason for anyone, even your medical doctors, to know your hypothetical alternate-universe time-travel gamete potential.

    On the other hand, some transphobes instead move the goalpost to Creationist Gametes. An Intelligent Designer intended your body to produce either sperm or ova. And we’re supposed to care for some reason.

  37. says

    I am on an email list here in Seattle for a local science enthusiasts meetup group. I just got an email informing me that the Coyne/Maroja road show will be in town on July 6 to “… upend some of our cherished liberal biases.” I will not be attending (nor have I attended any of the meetings since they began having them at a time and in a place that is not easy for me to get to).

  38. Ada Christine says

    if the designer was so smart it’d have had some cosmic mechanism to prevent me from getting an orchiectomy and fulfill my destiny of maybe or maybe not producing gametes. it’s impossible to know as i never had a fertility test, medical or otherwise ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  39. birgerjohansson says

    Joelgrant @ 43
    You should mail them one cherished liberal bias is “facts matter more than your made-up anecdotes”.