Donna Hughes is a Stand-Up Woman


One of my favorite memories of BYU is the time we invited Donna Hughes from the University of Rhode Island to come and lecture to our class on women and international affairs concerning sex trafficking. She was a warm and intelligent person, and a staunch advocate of the Nordic Model approach to the prostitution that was fuelling trafficking. The Nordic Model considers the prostitutes to be victims in need of state support and shelter, while criminalizing both johns and pimps. Hughes was very persuasive, and I now consider myself a strong proponent of the Nordic Model. I remember that in an act of academic kindness, she left me her powerpoint, and she gave our her email to our students if they had any follow-on questions. You don't see behavior like that every day among academics.

Hughes is a celebrated academic who holds an endowed chair, and she heads the graduate program in gender and women's studies at the University of Rhode Island. So I was both surprised and not surprised to see that Donna Hughes is apparently in hot water with her university. She has spoken out about how trans ideology is the QAnon of the left. I was surprised because I'd never thought she was interested in that topic; and I was not surprised because Donna Hughes is a stand-up woman. She is a woman of conviction, and immovable once she possesses that conviction. Let me quote from her original essay, which you can find here:

"The American political left is increasingly diving headfirst into their own world of lies and fantasy and, unlike in the imaginary world of QAnon, real children are becoming actual victims. The trans-sex fantasy, the belief that a person can change his or her sex, either from male to female or from female to male, is spreading largely unquestioned among the political left. 

"The biological category of sex, particularly women’s sex, is being smashed . . . The dystopian trans-sex/“gender identity” world claims that female mammalian characteristics should be redefined and disappeared from the female body to satisfy the feelings of biological males who identify as women. Basic biological words like breast and vagina are replaced by misogynistic, trans-sex/trans-gender language so that a female has a “front hole” instead of a vagina; females “chest feed” instead of breastfeed. All references to women disappear into terms such: “people who menstruate,” “people with uteruses,” “a pregnant person,” or “a birthing parent.” No such changes in terms are proposed for men’s bodies and anatomy. These redefinitions are hatred targeted at women’s bodies and their rights. 

"Based on information from social media and false promises from medical consultants and surgeons, teens believe that they can be medically transitioned into the other sex with full-functioning sex organs facing few complications. These are lies. Young people are guided into hormonal and surgical horrors that de-sex them . . The sterilization of physically healthy individuals who fail to conform to society’s standards mirrors the forced sterilizations of people during the eugenics movement of the 1920s and 1930s.

"[W]ithin hours of President Biden being sworn in, he signed the “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.” The order instructs federal agencies to interpret existing law that prevents “discrimination on the basis of sex” as also including discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.” Sex no longer matters. If a man identifies as a woman, then he will be given access to formerly protected women’s single-sex spaces, such as restrooms, locker rooms, women’s prisons, and women’s/girls’ sports. The trans-sex fantasy has imagined—and is enacting—a world in which how a man feels is more real than his actual reality. And now the fantasy has the weight of the federal government behind it. These fantasies, from QAnon on the right to trans-sex/ “gender identity” ideology on the left, fly in the face of rationality and truth. 

"Both of these fantasy worlds—QAnon on the political right and the gender identity movement on the political left—have successfully radicalized people who have been drawn farther from reality. Like cult followers, no amount of evidence and facts can disrupt their beliefs. Lives, relationships, and families are being ruined because of both of these belief systems."

Preach it, sister! She's absolutely right, and she has the guts to stand up and say the truth about these twin delusions. And her university's response? "The University of Rhode Island published a statement on its website Tuesday condemning a professor’s anti-transgender statements while saying it “honors and respects” her right to freedom of speech." 'The University does not support statements and publications by Professor Donna Hughes that espouse anti-transgender perspectives and recognize that such discourse can cause pain and discomfort for many transgender individuals,' it said in a statement released this week. In addition, "Her inflammatory comments were called 'beyond the pale' by Annie Russell, the director of the university's Gender and Sexuality Center."

Hughes' response is mordant: "A person cannot change their sex. That is a fact.' she said in response to a series of emailed questions from The Providence Journal. 'I have a PhD in genetics so I think I am qualified to write about the basics of sex.'"