Biologist Richard Dawkins stripped of his highest honour after ‘demeaning’ trans lives

Richard Dawkins gestures while wearing a grey suit and green tie

Biologist Richard Dawkins has had his Humanist of the Year honour revoked after making “bad faith” comments on trans lives.

Earlier this month, Dawkins compared the lives of trans people to Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who claimed to “identify” as Black while trying to forge a career in Black activism and academia.

He tweeted on 12 April: “In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black.

“Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men.

“You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as. Discuss.”

Dawkins was slammed on social media for his “bad faith” take, one of many unsolicited opinions he has given on trans folk. 

Although he later tried to argue that his tweet was “academic” and that he did not “intend to disparage trans people”, the American Humanist Association (AHA) has now stripped him of its highest honour, Humanist of the Year, which the outspoken atheist was awarded in 1996.

In a statement, the association said: “Regrettably, Richard Dawkins has over the past several years accumulated a history of making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalised groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values.

“His latest statement implies that the identities of transgender individuals are fraudulent, while also simultaneously attacking Black identity as one that can be assumed when convenient.

“His subsequent attempts at clarification are inadequate and convey neither sensitivity nor sincerity.

“Consequently, the AHA Board has concluded that Richard Dawkins is no longer deserving of being honoured by the AHA, and has voted to withdraw, effective immediately, the 1996 Humanist of the Year award.”

In its statement on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, the AHA states: “We are aware that cis-white heteronormative patriarchal institutions, power structures, and social attitudes harm Indigenous, Black, Brown, LGBTQ+, disabled individuals, women and other communities—especially those at the intersections of marginalised identities.

“We recognize these injustices are rooted in long standing overt and covert systemic inequalities. We acknowledge that our organisational structures were created from and continue to perpetuate these injustices and inequalities.

“The AHA commits to holding ourselves accountable to ensure that equity is embedded in every aspect of our organisation.”

Dawkins has not publicly responded to his award being withdrawn. PinkNews has approached him for comment.