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CNN Runs News Article Claiming There’s 'No Consensus Criteria for Assigning Sex at Birth'

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In a news report that is, as talk radio host Erick Erickson called it, “unbelievable,” a CNN journalist claimed there “is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth.”

The focus of reporter Devan Cole’s article are South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s (R) executive orders, signed this week, to ban biological males from competing on female sports teams at elementary and secondary educational institutions.

Despite the fact the article is a news report and not an opinion piece, Cole, who held internships at both CNN and the BBC prior to becoming a politics reporter for the network, claimed the phrase “biological sex” is “a disputed term that refers to sex as listed on students’ original birth certificates.”

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“It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth,” the reporter added, “and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth.”

The CNN journalist was immediately met with internet scorn.

Andrew Walker, an ethics and public theology professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, asked, “How are we supposed to take this seriously?”

Washington Examiner political columnist Tim Carney responded to Cole’s article, writing, “We know how to assign sex at birth. CNN is literally lying to you in asserting otherwise. The writer and editor know the difference between a baby boy and a baby girl. It’s rank dishonesty in service of culture war.”

Jay Caruso, managing editor of the Examiner, noted the sentence in question “has zero business appearing in a ‘news’ story.”

Ryan T. Anderson, author of the banned book, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement,” concurred with Carney, writing he is “entirely correct about CNN and that ridiculous ‘news’ story.”

“One minor note about language, though,” he wrote. “We don’t ‘assign’ sex — we recognize and acknowledge a natural identity. I recognize my son is a boy — I didn’t assign it. ‘Assign’ implies convention/choice.”

“The gender activists use ‘sex assigned at birth’ to create conceptual space for sex to be ‘re-assigned’ by hormones and surgery,” Anderson added.

The claims made by the reporter, who studied journalism at The George Washington University, are in line with the message from the leftist American Civil Liberties Union, which, in February, argued it is a “myth” to suggest “sex is binary, apparent at birth, and identifiable through singular biological characteristics.”

Cole’s CNN article centered on Noem’s back-and-forth with the South Dakota legislature, whose members rejected her request for changes to a bill, H.B. 1217, that would have required students to only join sports teams that correspond with their biological birth sexes.

Earlier this month, Noem issued a so-called “style and form veto,” in which she asked state lawmakers to revise the legislation to apply only to elementary and secondary school athletics in South Dakota. As it’s written, the law would apply to state universities, too.

The governor expressed concern the original bill’s language could cause “significant unintended consequences” that might trigger “punitive” actions by the NCAA against South Dakotan athletes.

Noem has explained she is putting together what she hopes will become a coalition of states that can then — together — take on the NCAA and ensure biological females are protected at the college level.

State legislators rejected Noem’s request by a vote of 2-67, sending it back to the governor’s desk. She ultimately vetoed the bill and instead issued executive orders accomplishing the same thing.

Noem said her orders are a “temporary” fix. She is calling for the legislature to reconvene for a special session in May or June.

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About The Author

Tré Goins-Phillips Headshot

Tré Goins-Phillips serves as a host and content creator for CBN News. He hosts the weekly “Faith vs. Culture” show and co-hosts “Quick Start,” a news podcast released every weekday morning. Born and raised in Virginia, Tré now lives along the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he has built his career, often traveling to meet and interview fascinating cultural influencers and entertainers. After working with brands like TheBlaze and Independent Journal Review, Tré began his career at CBN News in 2018 and has a particular passion for bridging the chasm between the secular world and the church