On Sex and Gender: A Commonsense Approach (Hardcover)

On Sex and Gender: A Commonsense Approach By Doriane Lambelet Coleman Cover Image
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An eye-opening account of what the left and right get wrong about sex and gender—and how we can be a thoughtful, sex-smart society.

On Sex and Gender focuses on three sequential and consequential questions: What is sex as opposed to gender? How does sex matter in our everyday lives? And how should it be reflected in law and policy? All three have been front-and-center in American life and politics since the rise of the trans rights movement: They are included in both major parties’ political platforms. They are the subject of ongoing litigation in the federal courts and of highly contentious legislation on Capitol Hill. And they are a pivotal issue in the culture wars between left and right playing out around dinner tables, on campuses and school boards, on op-ed pages, and in corporate handbooks.

Doriane Coleman challenges both sides to chart a better way. In a book that is equal parts scientific explanation, historical examination, and personal reflection, she argues that denying biological sex and focusing only on gender would have detrimental effects on women’s equal opportunity, on men’s future prospects, and on the health and welfare of society. Structural sexism needed to be dismantled—a true achievement of feminism and an ongoing fight—but going forward we should be sex smart, not sex blind.

This book is a clear guide for reasonable Americans on sex and gender—something everyone wants to understand but is terrified to discuss. Coleman shows that the science is settled, but equally that there is a middle ground where common sense reigns and we can support transgender people without denying the facts of human biology. She livens her narrative with a sequence of portraits of exceptional human beings from legal pioneers like Myra Bradwell and Ketanji Brown Jackson to champion athletes like Caster Semenya and Cate Campbell to civil rights giants like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Pauli Murray. Above all, Coleman reminds us that sex not only exists, but is also good—and she shows how we can get both sex and gender right for society.

About the Author

Doriane Coleman is a professor at Duke Law School, where she specializes in interdisciplinary scholarship focused on women, sports, children, and law. Her work has been published in numerous journals, and she is regularly cited in the press. At Duke, she is on the advisory council of the Kenan Institute for Ethics; a faculty associate of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine; a member of the Athletic Council; and codirector of the Center for Sports Law and Policy. She received a Juris Doctor from Georgetown Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University. A former collegiate and senior national champion, she ran the 800 meters for Cornell and Villanova, the Swiss and US national teams, Athletics West, the Santa Monica Track Club, the Atoms Track Club, and Lausanne Sports.

Praise For…

"Civil rights for women matter and to get these right you can’t ignore biology. This is a seminal book—the science, the law, the politics all explained so clearly. The extremes on the right and the left are dictating the narrative, but Doriane Coleman shows there’s a reasonable way for the rest of us through all the noise."

—Edwin Moses, two-time Olympic gold medalist and chair emeritus of the United States Anti-Doping Agency

"Sex begins at conception. We don’t construct it, it constructs us, from the cellular level to our complete, integrated systems—our physical forms and physiology. We’re poised to reap immeasurable benefits from ongoing work in research of sex differences but only if, as Doriane Coleman argues, we can continue to be “sex smart” not “sex blind.” The “common sense” here is just that; the information that should help form policy."

—Virginia M. Miller, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Surgery and Physiology and former director of the Women’s Health Research Center at the Mayo Clinic

"This book is a formidable challenge to our politics, on both the right and the left. Whether you agree with her or not, if you’re interested in equality, Doriane Coleman presents a serious blueprint for common ground on matters of sex and gender. Informed by science, law, and personal experience, she brings compassion and intelligence to one of our most difficult cultural collisions."

—Guy-Uriel Charles, Harvard Law School professor and director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice

"Male and female bodies are fundamentally different, and many clinical conditions impact females differently than males. Conflating sex and gender is disastrous to advancing healthcare for women and to their opportunities for success from athletic fields to board rooms. In this essential book, Doriane Coleman shows that a just society celebrates gender diversity without denying science."

—Mary I. O’Connor, MD, Olympian, Professor Emerita of Orthopedic Surgery at Mayo Clinic and co-author of Taking Care of You: The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Better Health

"Whatever your politics, you need to read this book. Doriane Coleman lays out the what, the why, and the how of our culture wars over sex and gender. She knows that most women want to be free from sex discrimination, not to be liberated from sex itself—and that ignoring this will mean that, again, we get the short end of the stick. Let’s instead adopt her commonsense approach to living together respectfully!"

—Martina Navratilova, 18-time grand slam singles champion and civil rights advocate

Product Details
ISBN: 9781668023105
ISBN-10: 1668023105
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English