The American Humanist Association has withdrawn its humanist of the year award from Richard Dawkins, 25 years after he received the honour, criticising the academic and author for “demean[ing] marginalised groups” using “the guise of scientific discourse”.
The AHA honoured Dawkins, whose books include The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, in 1996 for his “significant contributions” in communicating scientific concepts to the public. On Monday, it announced that it was withdrawing the award, referring to a tweet sent by Dawkins earlier this month, in which he compared trans people to Rachel Dolezal, the civil rights activist who posed as a black woman for years.
“In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black,” wrote Dawson on Twitter. “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 later responded to criticism, writing: “I do not intend to disparage trans people. I see that my academic ‘Discuss’ question has been misconstrued as such and I deplore this. It was also not my intent to ally in any way with Republican bigots in US now exploiting this issue.”
Among his critics was Alison Gill, vice president for legal and policy at American Atheists and a trans woman. She said Dawkins’ comments reinforce dangerous and harmful narratives. She said: “Given the repercussions for the millions of trans people in this country, in this one life we have to live, as an atheist and as a trans woman, I hope that Professor Dawkins treats this issue with greater understanding and respect in the future.”
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SOURCE: The Guardian, Alison Flood