Science is making a major shift in how it speaks about sex, with leading organizations around the world planning to ban the words “male” and “female” from their scientific literature. The move comes in an effort to end the classification of sex into binary categories and recognize people who are gender diverse or non-binary.
The UK's Royal Society has already announced that they will no longer use male and female in its scientific journal articles, instead recommending the use of terms such as ‘people with ovaries’ or ‘people without ovaries’. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which publishes the renowned journal Science, is also considering making similar changes to its publications.
These changes come after growing calls for science to be more inclusive of people who identify outside of traditional gender roles and norms. Research shows that forcing individuals into binary categories can have damaging effects on mental health, particularly among those who do not conform to society's expectations. This can include anyone from transgender or non-binary individuals, as well as intersex people who may not fit into either category distinctly.
The shift also highlights a wider push towards increased acceptance for gender diversity within science. As well as using more inclusive language around sex, institutions are also introducing policies that affirm gender identity and address discrimination against trans people in STEM fields.
This move away from binary language signals a positive step forward for science in recognizing the importance of including all genders, beyond just male and female. It is hoped that this shift will make way for greater inclusion within scientific discourse moving forward, while also helping to combat any associated stigmas or biases against trans individuals in academia.