University of Waterloo limits scientific position to “female, transgender, non-binary, or two-spirited” people – JONATHAN TURLEY

Canada’s University of Waterloo is making headlines this week after announcing applications for a science position, but limiting consideration to “qualified individuals who identify as female, transgender, non-binary or two-spirited.” The School’s Faculty of Environment has posted an announcement inviting applications for a doctoral-level researcher in “Geography, Earth and/or Environmental Sciences and Sustainability, Planning, or a related discipline” who has “evidence of an active research program with a focus on climate and/or climate change science, water science and sustainability, or cities of the future. The announcement contains the usual criteria on promising research and the ability to attract external funding. It also adds this criteria: “This call is open only to qualified individuals who identify as female, transgender, non-binary, or two-spirit.” Some may not be familiar with the “two-spirit” identification. The conservative College Fix site includes this description:

According to LGBTQ Health.ca, a Two-Spirit person is someone who “identifies as having both a male spirit and a female spirit.” The term was coined in 1990 by Myra Laramee at the Third Annual Intertribal Conference of Native Americans, First Nations, Gays and Lesbians.

“Two-Spirit” can also include “same-sex attraction and a wide variety of gender variances, including people who might be described in Western culture as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, gender queer , transvestites or who have multiple gender identities,” the site says.

The HRC further explains the history behind the term:

Research shows that over 150 different pre-colonial Native American tribes recognized third genders in their communities. And that may have been a unifying characteristic of different pre-colonial cultures. …

Not all pre-colonial Native American communities accepted or celebrated diversity of gender and sexual orientation. Often, when tribes were conquered, they were taken as slaves or forced into sexual submission to their conquerors. However, we also know from the writings of European colonizers that not everyone they wrote about identified as third gender – some of them were conquered warriors who were forced to dress in feminine way. Interpretations of the role and status of Two-Spirit and third-gender people varied by tribe.

Such exclusion criteria are permitted under Section 14 of the Ontario Human Rights Code to “alleviate economic hardship or disadvantage, assist disadvantaged persons or groups to obtain or attempt to obtain equality of opportunity or to help eliminate discrimination”.

Since individuals can “self-identify”, it is not clear if there is a level of proof that would be required for applicants. There have been previous studies showing an increase in these self-identifications on apps. Students and future teachers are aware that diversity is weighed in such selections.

As a result, one student showed that more than a third of white students falsely claimed minority status while about half of applicants claimed Native American status. Most notably, 77% of students who lied about their race were accepted by these schools.

As discussed in a previous column, Senator Elizabeth Warren is the most famous example of an academic challenged on such self-identification. Notably, when Warren claimed a small percentage of DNA possibly linking her to Native Americans, she was exposed by various groups.

The response from Native American groups who denounced Warren for using DNA to show ancestry was interesting. Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin insisted that “the use of a DNA test to claim a connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even remotely, is inappropriate and wrong. Senator Warren undermines tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage. Warren privately apologized to the tribe for using a DNA test to establish his Native American status.

Canada has recently had its own controversies over Indigenous identifications by faculty members.

Regarding gender identity, no authentication or confirmation is generally required for applicants.


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