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Academic Who Called for Scottish Gender Reforms Cited BDSM Fetishist and Transhumanist Think Tank
A prominent academic associated with the United Nations (UN) who campaigned for controversial reforms to Scotland's legal recognition of a ‘gender identity’ was influenced by the work of a transhumanist organization and cited a self-confessed male fetishist when asserting that biological sex is a spectrum.
In July 2017, Elaine Sutherland, professor emerita at the University of Stirling who specializes in Child and Family Law, penned a submission to the Scottish Law Commission urging authorities to amend the 2014 Gender Reassignment Act to reflect a “more sophisticated” view that humans are not sexually dimorphic.
In her treatise, Sutherland referenced the United States’ first legally recognized “non-binary” individual, a self-described male fetishist formerly named James Clifford Shupe.
Also cited by Sutherland as rationale for her views was an article co-authored by George Dvorsky and James Hughes, founders of transhumanist group the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET).
“While the Gender Reassignment Act 2014 improved the law in the light of a more sophisticated understanding gender identity, it remains the case that the legal system adheres to a binary notion of gender: that is, one is treated as being either male or female, albeit there is now the possibility of moving from one category to the other,” Sutherland wrote.
“Yet there is evidence that gender identity is not as simple as that and some individuals do not identify as being either male or female or are uncertain of where they fall,” Sutherland added. “In Oregon, for example, a court recently permitted an individual to adopt a ‘non-binary’ sex / gender classification.”
Sutherland references the case of Jamie / James Shupe, who first claimed to be a “transgender woman” in 2015, and was platformed by The New York Times.
“I had to decide if I was going to begin living authentically as the woman that I have always been for my remaining years, or remain silent and get buried as the male that I am not by family members,” Shupe asserted in his editorial.
“While I have liberated myself from the misery of gender dysphoria, I have traded that relief for the abuse and wrath of an often unforgiving public that is only beginning to understand my plight… I have effectively traded my white male privilege to become one of America’s most hated minorities.”
Shupe made headlines in The Guardian in 2016 after a judge in Oregon granted him a “a non-binary gender classification.” Shupe, who was 52 at the time, is a former army sergeant and, despite being male, was listed as female in his discharge papers. His legal petition therefore requested to have his sex marker changed from ‘female’ to ‘non-binary,’ and he was featured positively in a variety of publications.
In 2019, two years after Sutherland’s reference to his non-binary designation, Shupe came forward to tell conservative outlet The Daily Signal that “it was all a sham” and blamed his identity confusion on post-traumatic stress disorder. Shupe began campaigning against transgenderism on both a blog and on Twitter under his account notabledesister, where he gained some credibility among the detransitioner and gender critical community.
In 2021, Shupe authored a substack blog simply titled Autogynephilia Diaries, where he penned a lengthy account of his sexual proclivities, including photos of his sex toys and a breast pump to induce lactation “for fetish use.”
“My problem is a paraphilic disorder. That is, it’s not about gender identity; it’s about abnormal paraphilic sexual desire,” Shupe wrote.
“If you struggle to understand this concept of self-love, maybe I can explain it to you this way. Like many males, as a teenager, I longed to touch the breasts of a female. And once I found a girlfriend, I couldn't keep my hands off of hers. But now that I've grown my breasts, I can't keep my hands off them,” Shupe confessed.
He continued on to explain his sexual practices and admitted to coercing his wife into participating in his sexual fetish:
“Early on, I would don a wig, clothing that I imagined a woman wearing during housekeeping, and heels. Then I would engage in some half-hearted housework. Afterward, I would expect my wife to give me a sexual reward. Later down the road, after also developing another paraphilia, sexual masochism disorder, I demanded gratification get withheld as punishment. However, some of my worst behavior occurred when I began to demand that my wife play the role of a straight man during marital sex, coercing her to satisfy my need to pretend that I was a female.
My wife reluctantly obliged my paraphilic fantasies on these occasions because she feared the alternative scenario. Me divorcing her. Or me going out to places such as adult theaters and having men indulge them, something that I've frequently done despite the high risk of getting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.”
It was around this period, approximately 2020 - 2021, when Shupe created a website called Female Crime which was dedicated to “documenting crime by female pedophiles, lesbians, feminists, and others” and had its own category for “gender critical feminists.”
By 2022, Shupe had come full circle and was again claiming to be a woman. He legally changed his name to “Elisa Rae,” and frequently posted criticism on social media of women he labeled “TERFs.”
Professor Sutherland, in her submission to the Scottish Law Commission calling for law reforms to demonstrate “a more sophisticated understanding gender identity”, also cited the 2008 paper Postgenderism: Beyond the Gender Binary, by George Dvorsky and James Hughes, leaders of transhumanist group the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET).
The paper cited by Sutherland as justification for amending Scottish law describes a myriad of ways in which technology is expected to surpass the limits of biology, a situation referred to by the authors as “postgenderism”.
“Postgenderists argue that gender is an arbitrary and unnecessary limitation on human potential, and foresee the elimination of involuntary biological and psychological gendering in the human species through the application of neurotechnology, biotechnology and reproductive technologies,” the paper states in its abstract.
“Postgenderists contend that dyadic gender roles and sexual dimorphisms are generally to the detriment of individuals and society. Assisted reproduction will make it possible for individuals of any sex to reproduce in any combinations they choose, with or without 'mothers' and 'fathers,' and artificial wombs will make biological wombs unnecessary for reproduction.”
Co-author James Hughes holds the position of Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment, and Planning at the University of Massachusetts. Hughes, described as a bioethicist, has longstanding ties to transhumanist organizations, including Terasem, a religious group founded by trans-identifying male multi-millioniare Martine Rothblatt.
In 2005, Hughes spoke at a Terasem Retreat in Lincoln, Vermont, on the topic of “biopolitics”, and urged attendees to embrace “a democratic transhumanist view, one that embraces new technologies and does not limit human rights only to humans.”
He has also advocated a religious model for incorporating technology into human biology. In a 2007 paper titled “The Compatibility of Religious and Transhumanist Views of Metaphysics, Suffering, Virtue and Transcendence in an Enhanced Future”, Hughes proposed that “human enhancement technologies will be adopted creatively into the theologies of groups within all the world's faiths, producing many flavors of ‘trans-spirituality.’”
George Dvorsky, who co-authored the 2008 paper cited by Sutherland, serves as Chair of the Board at Hughes’ “technoprogressive think tank” IEET. Like Hughes, Dvorsky has a long history of advocating for transhumanism within the fields of academia and technology. At a Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights (HETHR) conference in 2006, Dvorsky argued that “humanity has the moral responsibility to use biotech to lift the veil of brute ignorance from the animals.”
At the conference, Dvorsky was representing Florida-based Betterhumans, a non-profit that posits itself as “the world’s first specifically-transhumanist bio-medical research organization.” Betterhumans, as is common for transhumanist organizations, seeks to find cures for aging, and even death, and states their mission is to develop technologies that will “propel us into an unlimited future of lasting health and youth.”
Professor Sutherland founded the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Implementing Project (CRC-IP) in 2012, in order to “explore implementation” of the aims of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Article 8 of the CRC, according to the Children and Young People’s Commissioner of Scotland, asserts that children have a right to a “gender identity”, while Article 2 states that children and young people shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their identity.
In May 2017, just before Sutherland contacted the Scottish Law Commission requesting amendments to the law in order to accommodate “gender identity”, the UN Office of the High Commissioner released a statement titled “Embrace diversity and protect trans and gender diverse children and adolescents”. The UN urged stakeholders to “protect trans and gender diverse children and adolescents” and promoted the full legal recognition of “self-defined gender”, without requirements for surgery or psychiatric counseling.
“This includes those who identify with third and other alternative genders, or a combination of genders,” the statement added.
The UN also condemned “laws or by-laws criminalizing gender expression including through offences of ‘cross-dressing’ or ‘imitating the opposite sex.’”
The following month, Sutherland and a group of academics and members of Scottish Parliament gathered for a seminar titled “Implementing and monitoring the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in Scotland”. Also in attendance was Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, who has called for children as young as 12 to be granted the legal right to change their gender on their birth certificates.