AstraZeneca under fire after LGBT+ staff group issue training saying “sex is not binary”

The pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, which previously sacked employees for refusing to take its mRNA Covid vaccine, has been criticised after training material was distributed to staff claiming that biological sex is not binary, and that stating your pronouns in all work-related correspondence is therefore “inclusive”.

The pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, which previously sacked employees for refusing to take its mRNA Covid vaccine, has been criticised after training material was distributed to staff claiming that biological sex is not binary, and that stating your pronouns in all work-related correspondence is therefore “inclusive”.

The material states that “biology has a spectrum” and that classifying a person’s sex as either male or female “fails to capture even the biological aspect of gender”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given this (mis)understanding of basic biology, staff at the pharmaceutical giant are also encouraged by LGBTQ+ activist group ‘AZPride’ to state their pronouns in work-related correspondence and at work events in order to make everyone feel included.

As reported in the Telegraph, this is understood to have angered some employees on the basis that it assumes support for the belief that someone’s sex can change from the one they were born with.

The materials were distributed by managers and employees on AstraZeneca’s intranet system, as part of gender diversity awareness promotion by the company’s independent LGBT+ staff group. They were also sent by a manager to at least one employee who raised questions about the use of pronouns and the term “queer”.

One former employee said: “AstraZeneca has been the most extreme company I have worked at in terms of gender identity ideology.”

Lord Robert Winston and Richard Dawkins, two of the country’s most pre-eminent scientists, have criticised the material as “scientifically ignorant” and running counter to the basis of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology firm’s work.

AstraZeneca had denied the material is part of the company’s official training or that it represents the firm’s official policy on gender issues, stating that it was produced and distributed only by AZPride, the staff group for LGBT+ employees.

One of the most controversial documents, titled Sex Spectrum, states: “Many societies view a person’s sex as either male or female, but this binary view fails to capture even the biological aspect of gender. While we are often taught that we inherit either XX or XY sex chromosomes, in fact, biology has a spectrum too!”

It adds: “People might have XXY, XYY, X, XXX or other combinations of chromosomes – all of which can result in a variety of sex characteristics.”

That claim appears to contradict established biological science. Having XXY or XYY chromosomes can lead to rare genetic conditions for men, but does not alter a man’s biological sex, while triple X syndrome is a genetic condition found in females only.

Lord Robert Winston, known for his pioneering work in the study of fertility, said: “It’s very disappointing. This sort of material is confused and doesn’t take into account the difference between sex and gender.

“It’s completely unscientific. You inherit your X or Y chromosomes from the moment of conception. You can’t change your sex. Your sex is permanent genetically. They have confused sex with gender and sexuality.”

Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist and award-winning author, agreed, saying: “I don’t know who, in AstraZeneca, dreamed up this ridiculous document. Evidently not a scientist. Let’s hope that AstraZeneca’s research staff are better educated. And capable of at least a modicum of logical thought.”