United Kingdom

Richard Dawkins is stripped of his Humanist Of The Year award

Richard Dawkins has been stripped of his 'Humanist of the Year' title after comparing transgender people to the American activist Rachel Dolezal - who posed as a black woman for more than ten years.  

The American Humanist Association (AHA) revoked its honour from the evolutionary biologist, 80, after he appeared to question whether people could choose their gender.  

The move comes 25 years after the evolutionary biologist, whose books include The God Delusion and The Selfish Gene, received the honour for his 'significant contributions' as a science communicator. 

In his tweet Mr Dawkins wrote: 'In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black. 

The American Humanist Association (AHA) has stripped Richard Dawkins, 80, of  his 'Humanist of the Year' title

It comes after the evolutionary biologist  compared transgender people to the American activist Rachel Dolezal 

'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.'

Mr Dawkins later added: '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.' 

In 2015, Rachel Dolezal was forced to resign from a leadership position at her local Spokane chapter of the NAACP after it was revealed she had posed as a black woman for more than ten years.

Dolezal, from Spokane, Washington, later claimed that ethnicity was not biological and compared being 'transracial' to being transgender, in an interview with BBC's Newsnight.    

Following the latest announcement by the AHA, Mr Dawkins said the move would have little impact on him.

He told The Times: 'Apparently the honour hadn’t meant enough to me to be worth recording in my CV.' 

The American Humanist Association said it made its decision to withdraw the title because Mr Dawkins, over the past several years, had 'accumulated a history of making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalised groups.' 

In their statement the American Humanist Association wrote: 'Richard Dawkins was honoured in 1996 by the AHA as Humanist of the Year for his significant contributions in this area.

'Regrettably, Richard Dawkins has over the past several years accumulated a history of making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalised groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values. 

'His latest statement implies that the identities of transgender individuals are fraudulent, while also simultaneously attacking Black identity as one that can be assumed when convenient. 

Rachel Dolezal posed as a black woman for more than ten years before her ruse was discovered in 2015

The American Humanist Association said it made its decision to withdraw the title after Mr Dawkins used the 'guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalised groups'

'His subsequent attempts at clarification are inadequate and convey neither sensitivity nor sincerity.

'Consequently, the AHA Board has concluded that Richard Dawkins is no longer deserving of being honored by the AHA, and has voted to withdraw, effective immediately, the 1996 Humanist of the Year award.'

Last year, author JK Rowling said she would give back an award presented by the  Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organisation after one of its members criticised her views on gender issues.

The group's president, Kerry Kennedy, said the writer's outspoken views on gender had 'diminished the identity' of trans people.       

It came just months after Rowling hit the headlines after she mocked an online article using the words 'people who menstruate' instead of 'women'.

She was hit by what she described as 'relentless attacks' after she wrote: 'I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?' 

Rowling's remarks sparked backlash from a range of stars including actors Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Eddie Redmayne.  

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