Anthropologists Call for an End to Classifying Human Remains by Gender and Ancestry

There is an interesting controversy brewing in anthropology departments where professors have called for researchers to stop identifying ancient human remains by biological gender because they cannot gauge how a person identified at that the time. Other scholars are calling for researchers to stop identifying race as a practice because it fuels white supremacy.  One of the academics objecting to this effort to stop gender identifications, San Jose State archaeology Professor Elizabeth Weiss, is currently  suing her school. Weiss maintains that she was barred from access to the human remains collection due to her opposition to the repatriation of human remains. The school objected that she posted a picture holding a skull from the collection on social media, expressing how she was “so happy to be back with some old friends.”

The conservative site College Fix quotes various academics in challenging the identification of gender and notes the campaign of the Trans Doe Task Force to “explore ways in which current standards in forensic human identification do a disservice to people who do not clearly fit the gender binary.”

University of Kansas Associate Professor Jennifer Raff argued in a paper, “Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas,”  that there are “no neat divisions between physically or genetically ‘male’ or ‘female’ individuals.”  Her best selling book has been featured on various news outlets like MSNBC.

Weiss has criticized the book as “just plain wrong” critical points of history and objects that Raff seems “eager to pay homage to every current progressive orthodoxy.”

However, Raff is not alone. Graduate students like Emma Palladino have objected  that “the archaeologists who find your bones one day will assign you the same gender as you had at birth, so regardless of whether you transition, you can’t escape your assigned sex.”

Professors Elizabeth DiGangi of Binghamton University and Jonathan Bethard of the University of South Florida have also challenged the use of racial classifications in a study, objecting that “[a]ncestry estimation contributes to white supremacy.”  The authors write that “we use critical race theory to interrogate the approaches utilized to estimate ancestry to include a critique of the continued use of morphoscopic traits, and we assert that the practice of ancestry estimation contributes to white supremacy.”

The professors refer to the practice as “dangerous” and wrote in a letter to the editor that such practices must be changed in light of recent racial justice concerns.

“Between the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and the homicides of numerous Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement officials, we have all been reminded about the fragility of life, and the failures of our society to live up to the ideals enshrined in the foundational documents which established the United States of America over two centuries ago. Tackling these failures seems overwhelming at times; however, changes can be enacted with candid and reflexive discussions about the status quo. In writing this letter, we direct our comments to the forensic anthropology community in the United States in hopes of sparking a discussion about the long-standing practice of ancestry estimation and changes that are frankly long overdue.”

The end result of such proposals would be to curtail or bar the classification of human remains by gender or ancestral heritage by anthropologists.

This has long been a matter of heated exchanges in this field.

Indeed, a furious debate erupted after the publication of the book by former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.  The book contends that human races are a biological reality and genetic differences may help explain why some people live in tribal societies and some in advanced civilizations.

In one survey, the authors found:

“Based on our studies, anthropologists are more aptly describable as ‘squatters’ (i.e., those who maintain race is not biologically meaningful), ‘shifters’ (i.e., those who maintain race is not biologically meaningful but is a social reality), and ‘straddlers’ (i.e., those who recognize the significance and relevance of both biologically informed and sociocultural conceptualizations of race).”

It appears that this debate is no closer to reaching a consensus though “squatters” and “shifters” appear to dominate academic journals and faculties.

For some, this debate fulfills the old joke in teaching: “What do you call an academic who apologizes all the time? An anthropologist.”  Ok bad pun but the effort to bar the collection or classification of the data is hard to understand.

There is no question that these studies raise important questions of whether gender or racial bias can distort our understanding of human evolution and movement. Yet, it seems curious to some of us (admittedly, in my case, from another discipline) that you would not want this data point among the array of data used to analyze such discoveries. For example, it would seem that gender does reflect physical distinctions that impact elements of society, migration, and other relevant issues. In the end, you can collect this data and reach your own conclusions. If there were non-binary Neanderthals, I would frankly love to read about them.

I am not sure if that makes me a “squatter” but more likely an interloper. However, given the reliance on legal and political events by some of these writers, it is worth having a broader debate over whether such concerns should be used to limit scientific inquiry or classification on these points. It would seem to some of us that the focus should be not on the collection but the importance given such data.


122 thoughts on “Anthropologists Call for an End to Classifying Human Remains by Gender and Ancestry”

  1. This general realm of the bizarre, deviant and perverse is eminently worthy of ignorance and of being ignored.

    “If you [ignore] it, he will [go].”

    – Strange Whisper, Field of Dreams

  2. You are not “assigned” a gender at birth unless you are born intersex with dueling genitalia.

    Just like any other mammal, like a puppy or kitten, your sex is identified by genitals. It is implied that mad nurses are out there arbitrarily “assigning” genders at random. As Bill Maher said, “are all the babies born the wrong gender?”

    The mass hysteria over gender and identity needs to calm. Transgender isn’t finding out why someone really is. It’s rejecting who that person really is.

    People are becoming so bored and unhappy with their real life. They wish they were more, different, other. They become obsessed with being animals (therians), mythical creatures (otherkin). They obsess that they’re trapped in the wrong body. The wrong age, wrong sex, wrong race, wrong species. Neurodiversity is the new buzz word. People claim to be plural “systems” at a rate that far outpaces any known for split personality. They reject reality and cannot make peace with it. This shouldn’t be encouraged. People should not be punished for describing biology, and not affirming someone’s delusions. It’s a social contagion.

    When people are struggling with crisis, finding food, safety, shelter, do they generally don’t have time or attention to spend on identity crisis beyond existential diary entries?

    1. The whole issue of “gender dysphoria” is both complex and there is actually alot known about it psychologically.

      First it is radically different in men than women.

      Next, there are actually very very few people who “transitioning” corrects or improves their actual underlying problems.

      As gender has become a public issue there has been an explosion in teen and young adult women identifying as trans – far larger than what has occured with men.
      At the same time Anorexia and Bulimia have almost disappeared in women.

      The problem with most FTM trans is anxiety and depression – which previously manifested as anorexia and Bulimia, and now as Trans.
      Further this is exploding with women – because although anxiety and depression are increasing – they are doing so to a far greater extent with young women than men.

      While there is a high rate of suicide among Trans men, that rate is unaltered by transitioning.
      Making it pretty clear the real problem is not gender.

      Regardless, even if there was an epidemic of people somehow born into the wrong bodies, that does not alter the fact that we should not play uproar and toss the entire 300K year old structure of society on a whim to suit them.

      I can accept transgender without having to bathe in it or restructure my life and all of society over a tiny percent of people.

      I can live with and accept people with all kinds of sexual or other fetishes. That does not mean all of us owe them restructuring our lives to suit them.

  3. Universities are no longer centers of high learning and debate. There is not a spirit of inquiry. They are institutions of far Left propaganda. Madrassas. They drive out dissenting views and then proclaim that the agreement among remaining academics means they are right and intellectually above reproach.

    It is crucial for our society that the body of knowledge is passed on to each generation. The ba$tardization of math, biology, and medicine with far Left propaganda could mean doom for our country. The Left has taken control of public education, from pre-K through graduate school. It controls what people learn, and what they can find in search engines. It censors what they say in social media. It controls most of what they see at the movies, and on TV. We are being politically groomed from our youngest years, brainwashed with ideas guaranteed to lead to failure.

    There is even a craze to castrate and sterilize children. Most outrageous is that those who object, and try to protect children, are branded bigots. It’s even led to the loss of custody in some cases. It’s madness, and the suicide of the country.

    1. Restricting speech is a self punishing act.
      The nutjobs running our universities should be “forced” to read John Stuart Mill’s “on liberty” over and over until they get it.

      We know what is true because it survives the criticism of its most potent adversaries.

      Even when we correctly identify truth we can not be sure unless we subject it to the most potent attacks – something only those who oppose are able to do.

      I am not concerned that much about the censorious left. We have sufficient freedom they will ultimately self destruct.

      What is surprising me is how long that is taking and how much failure we are tolerating.

      The Biden presidency is a disaster – who are the 40% of the country that still supports him ?
      Trump’s support had a floor, because he was correct about most things, because he kept faith with his supporters.
      Biden has neither.

    2. Is there some anthropologists that think densovians were gathering in a cave around a fire navel gazing and pondering their identity ?

      Any cave men confused about their identities could look between their legs to work that out.

      Further the survival of the species demanded procreation – men having sex with women to produce children – because the death rate in children was enormous and life expectance was poor and in the absence of lots of men getting lots of women pregnant the family, the tribe even the species would end.

      It is unlikely they pondered this, they just did what was necescary – and took what pleasure they could in it.

      The left’s concept of gender is a luxury that can not exist without affluence.

      Nor is the left particularly trustworthy. I expect they will abandon the gay and trans as soon as declining birth rates become an existential crisis and some public health expert tells them we must be forced to reproduce.

      1. … unless declining birth rates and existential crisis are their goal…? But not to worry, they are importing huge numbers of substitute “Americans” who know nothing of national traditions or even the English language, let alone the Constitution. Should be easier to dominate than those pesky “old-fashioned” Americans.

        1. OE – Hispanics are moving rapidly to the GOP.

          Though this is happening faster than I expected, it still was predictable.

          All new groups eventually become more conservative as they rise out of poverty.

          We all move from left to right – as we age.
          As we go from school to jobs to families to owning homes to better jobs.

          As a culture the same happens as our culture prospers.

          While there are some very serious problems with the immigration chaos we have now.
          And there would be independent bad effects on SOME from a rapid influx of below poverty immigrants.

          The net effect of immigration in the long term is positive. It will take a generation – but most new immigrants will fit in perfectly well with middle class american culture as they rise to that.

          Anyone willing to march across much of central america to come to america – I WANT as an american.

          I want the wall – so that we can end the criminality and drugs and ….. But I have no problem with acepting 3+M legal immigrants each year.

          Though some of our laws would have to change.

          As to dilution of our culture – Our culture is – “this is the land of opertunity” – that is what these people are looking for – mostly.
          That is what we want.

          1. RE: “All new groups eventually become more conservative as they rise out of poverty…” If you truly believe that then there’s a whole group of Limousine Liberals on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in the Hamptons on Long Island, across the Potomac in Virginia, and down the street in my Florida retirement community, among other places in these United States, whom you haven’t met yet.

            1. I did not say every person who rises from poverty (or from afluence to uber afluence),

              I specified groups – that would be races, nationalities ethnicities, not self selecting groups of ideologues.

              1. RE:”I specified groups – that would be races, nationalities ethnicities…. “Then, YES, as well…at least from where I’ve sat, stood, walked. or run. You should talk to my friend the ophthalmologist, and many others around me. Upward mobility did not breed conservatism.

                1. You should learn the difference between a statistic and an anecdote.

                  Your opthamologist is ONE representative of a much larger group.

                  It is well known that as the members of large groups – Groups united by immutable characteristics not political choices,
                  Rise from poverty to the middle class the members of the group as a whole shift right slowly.
                  Other factors have similar effects – as a group, people are more progressive when younger and less when older.
                  Single people are more progressive than college educated.
                  The childless are more progressive than parents.
                  People with good jobs are less progressive than those without.

                  I have tried to be a bit more precise than normal – but I should not have to be.
                  These Trends are more than 100 years old and well established.

                  Does every person who rises from poverty to the middle class become more conservative ? No.
                  None the less a significant portion of those who do rise do shift politically.

                  Hispanics have been a very poor fit for democrats for a long time.
                  They are both religious and catholic. The strongly resemble past immigrant groups – like the Irish, the Poles, the Italians who went through the same transitions.

        2. Exactly right. “Olde Edo”. Are you half 16th century Japanese and half 16th century English?

  4. “stop identifying ancient human remains by biological gender because they cannot gauge how a person identified”

    Anthropologists are reaffirming that theirs is a soft science.

    Biological gender is different from behavior, mental state, or internal thoughts. Remains can be accurately described in biological terms.

      1. Or you are.

        I am pretty sure the denesovians did not sit in their caves arround the fire debating their gender, and prefered pronouns.

        The left has turned the Gender into a meaningless term.

        Well done.

    1. …after all, the remains are now strictly biological – brain is gone, no one can know if the remains were confused about their gender/sex or not. Kinda tough to diagnose gender dysphoria from a femur or even a skull. Plus, pretty sure whoever the remains were originally doesn’t give two hoots whether the anthropologist mis-pronouns them.

      Academia has to quit trying to assign anything to remains other than what the actual science (in this case, biology) indicates. Anthropology is wandering further and further into Fantasyland along with Psychology and Sociology…

  5. Sane people really do need to push back against this nonsense. Too many people roll over and give this craziness a pass. So for starters, if you’re an alumni of the universities hatching and homing these woke robots and punishing Professor Weiss (San Jose State, Binghamton University, University of Kansas, University of South Florida), time to withhold any donations and support.

    1. › p › mass-formation-psychosis?r=ta0o1
      MASS FORMATION PSYCHOSIS – by Robert W Malone MD, MS
      Dec 9, 2021As many of you know, I have spent time researching and speaking about mass psychosis theory. Most of what I have learned has come from Dr. Mattias Desmet, who realized that this form of mass hypnosis, of the madness of crowds, can account for the strange phenomenon of about 20-30% of the population in the western world becoming entranced with the Noble Lies and dominant narrative concerning …

    2. Mental illness gone wild.

      Murdering the unborn & push to cut off the Genitalia of very young kids, those people promoting it & accepting it are complete Nuts.

      https:// – rwmalonemd.substack – .com/p/mass-formation-psychosis?r=ta0o1

    3. Mental illness gone wild.

      Murdering the unborn & pushing to cut off the Genitalia of very young kids, those people promoting it & accepting it are completely Nuts.


  6. The problem is the attempt to suppress information. All available biological information should be reported, and then let individual anthropologists interpret it or make assumptions however they choose to. Some will stick to objectively verifiable facts, and others will interpret their findings through a veneer of 21st century wokism. The whole trans movement is just a bunch of wealthy white people deciding that they can be whatever they want, despite reality, and the rest of the world has to adapt to their narcissism. They were the children that nobody ever said “no” to. Never before in history would there ever have been a trans-swimmer like Lia Thomas, or like the male prisoner in the news yesterday who claimed to identify as a woman, was transferred to a female prison, and promptly got two female inmates pregnant. But even Fox News referred to this guy as “she.” It’s insanity; do we need a small child to point out that there are boys and girls, and anything else is just playing dress-up?

  7. Race and gender identification are part of the process and ultimately just facts. No one needs to read into them anything negative. Quite the contrary the information is logged and then used to come up with theories about migration and the particular peoples who lived in an area at a particular time. These are unbiased facts. These leftists are taking today’s talking points and applying them to 75,000 years ago. The gender identity argument is really silly not so much because the concept was not practiced (probably wasn’t) but because it’s not important. You can surmise that maybe this skeleton was trans but you don’t throw out the information because you don’t have all the facts about them LOL!. Science is often just an educated guess but you can’t make an educated guess if you leave out facts because a few leftists get upset.

  8. Some quotes apropos to today’s subject.

    First quoting Ted Hughes: Lupercal ‘Hawk roosting’: “It took the whole of Creation, To produce my foot, my each feather: Now I hold Creation in my foot”.

    And from Aldous Huxley: Proper Studies ‘Note of Dogma’, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored”.

    “Castles in the air, they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build, also.” I cannot remember the author.

    The WOKE or as I now call them ‘THE INTOLERANTS’ have limited or no common sense and lack any capability to reason logically. They cast aside millennium(s) of human knowledge in hopes of correcting some perceived wrong(s) of past generations, or to redefine accepted basic human knowledge. Their ignorance and conceit are astounding and dangerous, reminding one of the “Dark Ages”. These INTOLERANTS must be shunned, ridiculed and shown to be the fools they are.

    One last quote from John McEnroe at Wimbledon “You cannot be serious!”

    1. Excellent.

      Human history is the history of progress, of improving our world. Of making our lives better.

      All or nearly all progress within the past several centuries is the consequence of scottish enlightenment ideas, western liberalism.
      Whether it is Smith in economics, or Locke in government. Th consequence is limited self govenrment and near limitless individual freedom.

      These are the prerquisites for rapid progress.

      Why ?

      Because nearly all new ideas FAIL.

      The rapid improvement in the human condition over the past several centuries is the direct consequence of the individual freedom to try knew things and to fail over and over and over until you succeed. It is no different from Elon Musk blowing up rocket after rocket until he has the best safest and cheapest rocket. Because it takes many failures to reach success.

      The core problem with modern progressives is that the do not grasp that most ideas FAIL repeatedly until either the proper means to make them work is found or they are abandoned and a different approach is attempted.

      Put differently – for every single new idea the odds are greater than 10:1 that what already exists is superior to any knew idea.

      The left seeks to try new ideas – lost of hem all at once – but not within free markets where the costs of failure are born by a few, but inside of government where they are born by all of us.

      And low and behold – the result is massive failure.

      Good intentions do not produce success. Most of the time success is not acheivable. Or not acheivable at this time.

      The stupidest thing we can do is to move the process of making progress – which is one of constant failure and rare success into government.

      We do not want and can not afford constant failure in government.

  9. One would think the total corruption of an academic discipline would be a matter of concern in the community. Most are too intimidated to speak up, the ones that do want to expand the corruption to other disciplines. We are truly entering a new Dark Age.

  10. Anthropologists swear that Yeti or Bigfoot exists in Whitehall, NY. Are they registered progressive democrats?

  11. This is beyond idiocy and if the adults in this nation allow this sort of “make believe” to continue in academia it will speed us on to total ruin. What is so sad is that the thinking/discerning impaired who now control the education/media industry do not even fathom one bit where this is all heading. Their heads are permanently sealed in a bubble of naïve idealism or just plain wrong-headed miseducation.

    1. Putin, the Ayatollahs, Kim Jung Un, the new ‘Idi Amins’ of the world in Africa and elsewhere, they all are laughing at us in the civilized ‘Western’ world — what we have here is a modern version of witchcraft, updated 300 years from Salem in the 1690’s. They still practice VooDoo in the Caribbean, don’t they?

  12. This is disgusting. These people need to be removed from their teaching posts and immediately be put in mental institutions where they belong.

  13. So if a body is found, the medical examiner shouldn’t give any information about that body to identify it?? They can’t say if it is a male or female, or black or white?? This is what mental illness looks like. Seriously….Who are the SCIENCE DENIERS again??

  14. How about let’s solve this problem first: If I had a nickel for every time an anthropologist said “It’s clear they really had a very advanced understanding of….” I’d be a bazillionaire. They never met a corpse or culture that was behind the times.

    If I had a penny for every time and anthropologist found some carved rock and ascribed its function to “deep spiritual rituals” or “The person who owned this must have been a revered leader in their community” I’d own everything in the world. Do they never unearth reg’lar folks?

    1. Your second paragraph reminds me of a presentation given by director Werner Herzog. He filmed a documentary about an ancient cave dwelling that had numerous handprints in it. Anthropologists attributed the prints to ancient rituals. Herzog imagined another reason. Maybe a guy made a print on the wall every time he got laid.

  15. Science, biology, and genetics don’t care about you politics or other delusions.

  16. I remember when postmodernism became all the rage in anthropology. The problem with anthropology is that, from the beginning, it has not had a theoretical framework it could call its own. It has borrowed from biology and literature, and now it’s grabbing onto CRT in the hopes of remaining relevant in academia. IMHO, it was dead the moment it switched from a scientific discipline to an “interpretive” one. That was in the 1980s.

    1. giocon – true. It was most relevant when it focused on studying ancient civilizations. Modern anthropology has gone off the rails.

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