CDC Battles Biology
Instead of Coronavirus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) online tool for Coronavirus symptom assessment, the “Coronavirus Self-Checker,” asks about “gender,” with options of “female,” “male” and “other.” This is strange. The coronavirus attacks the human body. The coronavirus does not attack gender identity.

In protecting Americans from the coronavirus, sex matters. Humans, like other mammals, have two sexes: male and female. In disease research and treatment, accurate information about the sex of a person is important for researchers and health professionals to know. The novel coronavirus, for example, discriminates on the basis of sex.

A recent headline in the Los Angeles Times asks, “Why is the coronavirus so much more deadly for men than for women?” Italian authorities, the article explains, report: 

among 13,882 cases of COVID-19 and 803 deaths between Feb. 21 and Mar. 12, men accounted for 58% of all cases and 72% of deaths. Hospitalized men with COVID-19 were 75% more likely to die than were women hospitalized with the respiratory disease.

The story reports studies from China and Korea reflect similar results. Earlier studies of other coronaviruses in mice found that “At every age, male mice were more susceptible to infection than females.

Some may ask: but what about “intersex” persons? These individuals “do not constitute a third sex,” explains Ryan Anderson in his book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. “Disorders of Sexual Development (DSD),” Anderson writes, “are a pathology in the development and formation of the male or female body.” Anderson quotes pediatric endocrinologist Quentin L. Van Meter: “The exceedingly rare DSDs are all medically identifiable deviations from the sexual binary norm. The 2006 consensus statement of the Intersex Society of North America and the 2015 revision of the statement does not endorse DSD as a third sex.”

The CDC should ask individuals concerned about what may be coronavirus related symptoms about their sex, male or female. This is a matter of biology. In addition, the federal government is required by law to communicate using “plain” and “clear” English.

As the government website Plainlanguage.gov explains, the Plain Writing Act of 2010 “requires that federal agencies use clear government communication that the public can understand and use.” Several executive orders also require the use of plain English. Gender has become a vague, confusing, contested term with meanings multiplying even faster than the Chinese coronavirus spreads. When it comes to the human body, there is nothing “plain” or “clear” today about the word “gender.”

Overall, the federal government needs to standardize forms and online resources to use the biological term “sex,” with the two biological categories of male and female, not “gender.”

The CDC tries to obfuscate its responsibility for the “Coronavirus Self-Checker” with this disclaimer: 

This project was made possible through a partnership with the CDC Foundation and is enabled by Microsoft’s Azure platform. CDC’s collaboration with a non-federal organization does not imply an endorsement of any one particular service, product, or enterprise.

Regardless of who its partners may be, CDC’s responsibility is to communicate in “plain,” “clear,” English and to focus on the agency’s trademarked tagline is “24/7: Saving Lives. Protecting People.”—not muddle the mission with identity politics.

The question I would like to ask President Trump at one of his coronavirus briefings is: “Mr. President, why is the CDC prioritizing gender ideology over science, especially at a moment when Americans are suffering and many dying from the Coronavirus?” 

About Jennifer S. Bryson

Jennifer S. Bryson, Ph.D. is a Policy and Communication Fellow at the Claremont Institute. She lives in Washington, D.C. Visit her website: www.jenniferbryson.net.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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