Commencement Speaker Cynthia Lummis Booed at UW Graduation For Saying There Are Only Two Sexes
For many in attendance, it was an important night. The University of Wyoming held its Spring 2022 Undergraduate Ceremony for students in the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Office of Academic Affairs.
Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis was asked to give the commencement address and, in doing so, she ended up almost getting booed off the stage by those in attendance, due to a comment about the two (or more) sexes.
The speech started of innocently enough. After a rousing introduction, Lummis took the stage to applause.
"Graduates, parents, friends, faculty, administration and staff - congratulations to each of you on this wonderful Wyoming day," Lummis began. "You look fabulous. I love the regalia, I love the bling, I love the smiles. You look wonderful."
Lummis thanked the students for choosing the University of Wyoming and told them that they were important to the Wyoming community. She also reminded students that "the world needs more cowboys."
Lummis then stated that her speech would focus on three pieces of advice.
"The first is this," she stated. "It's hard work to teach children to work hard."
The second piece of advice Lummis offered was especially poignant.
"If you think you are the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room," Lummis said.
Lummis then brought up constitutional rights and technical capabilities, saying that the two are sometimes at odds.
"We must safeguard our rights, navigating the path forward with extreme thoughtfulness, care, and an orientation towards the importance of every individual right and every individual life," Lummis told the students.
Less than five minutes later, after discussing the perceived importance and potential of bitcoin and "a decentralized digital future", Lummis offered her third piece of advice.
"You woke up this morning with more individual freedom in the most creative, divinely inspired nation on earth," Lummis said. "The transformations and disruptions I have alluded to are testing those very freedoms. There are those in government who believe not that the creator endowed us with inalienable rights as the founders of our nation acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence, but that government created those rights and the government should redefine those rights."
Whether that first bit is objective or subjective can be left to the reader, but it's the next thing she said that is what riled up the auditorium of college students.
"[This includes] our rights to freedom of speech, religion, property, assembly, and to keep and bear arms," Lummis said. "Even fundamental scientific truths, such as the existence of two sexes - male and female - are subject to challenge these days."
And then, the booing began. It sounded like it started in the back and, like an angry ocean wave, it gathered momentum and crashed over Senator Lummis to the point that she had to stop speaking.
Eventually, after taking in the scene, she regained her composure.
"And I challenge those of you," she began, but then thought better of it. "I'm not making a comment on the fact that there are people who transition between sexes..."
"I personally question how, under our constitution, we could forbid in-person worship services during a pandemic, while labeling liquor stores as essential," she said, attempting to steer the ship back on track.
And, to be fair, she did. After a few more minutes, Lummis again reiterated the "the world needs more cowboys," before exiting the stage to a mix of applause and boos.
A day later, Lummis issued an apology through a written statement:
“My reference to the existence of two sexes was intended to highlight the times in which we find ourselves, times in which the metric of biological sex is under debate with potential implications for the shared Wyoming value of equality.
“I share the fundamental belief that women and men are equal, but also acknowledge that there are biological differences and circumstances in which these differences need to be recognized. That being said, it was never my intention to make anyone feel un-welcomed or disrespected, and for that I apologize. I have appreciated hearing from members of the University of Wyoming community on this issue, and I look forward to continuing this dialogue.”
Twitter was also interested in the dialogue.
Because, as anybody can google, there only being two sexes is not, in fact "scientific fact."
Scientific American published a whole article about the idea of there being "more than two sexes."
"By the turn of the millennium, however, the idea of femaleness being a passive default option had been toppled by the discovery of genes that actively promote ovarian development and suppress the testicular programme—such as one called WNT4," the article stated. "XY individuals with extra copies of this gene can develop atypical genitals and gonads, and a rudimentary uterus and Fallopian tubes. In 2011, researchers showed that if another key ovarian gene, RSPO1, is not working normally, it causes XX people to develop an ovotestis—a gonad with areas of both ovarian and testicular development."
Many people graduated from the University of Wyoming on Saturday night. And they learned a very important lesson in the process.
"If you think you are the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room."
Video of Lummis' speech can be seen below.