Letter to the editor

SB-458 seeks to define sex as binary, based on sperm and egg production. While this bill is antiquated, discriminatory, and dangerous, it also shows a complete ignorance of biology. Gender is shaped by genetic, hormonal, and social factors, and evolutionary biology reveals kaleidoscopic variation in sex and gender. In flowering plants, hermaphrodites are the rule (known as ‘perfect’ flowers), and single-sex plants, such as willow trees, are the exception. Male seahorses carry offspring internally after fertilization. In fishes, species such as gobies change sex sequentially during different life stages. Many birds maintain same-sex partnerships for life and raise chicks, and certain female lions grow manes. Beloved domestic animals such as cats, dogs, and horses can exhibit intersex characteristics, where their sex and gender are ambiguous. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics already recognize that gender is not a binary, and local medical professionals such as Dr. Lauren Wilson, MD have warned that SB-458 could harm the health and safety of Montanans. As biologists, we celebrate diversity in all of its forms, and stand with Rep. Zooey Zephyr, Rep. SJ Howell, and all others fighting for the rights of Montana’s LGBTQ community.


Colette Berg, M.N.S, PhD Candidate

Daphne Bloom, M.A., NSF Graduate Research Fellow, PhD Student

Bridger Creel, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, PhD Student

Sophie Fitzgerald, PhD Student

Caroline Karnatz, M.S., PhD Student

C. Logan Pierpont, M.S.

Cynthia Ulbling, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, PhD Student

Nikea Ulrich, Fulbright Scholar, Montana Space Grant Fellow, PhD Candidate

Heidi Abresch, PhD Student

Rosalee Elting, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, PhD Student

Nicole Lopez, PhD Student

Eric Lyons, PhD Student

Valery Roman, PhD Candidate