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Science Museum: Stonewalled

By Heather Finlay

I turned the corner in the Science Museum and thought to myself: “I can’t believe that they have done it again.” 


In 2022 the Science Museum removed an exhibit in the You and I section which had been the subject of complaints for a number of years. This display had contained 2 elements that caused concern:

  • advocating that transition was ‘not a lifestyle choice but a hero’s journey’

  • showing a quotation from a young trans identified woman together with the actual display of a pharmaceutical hormone package that ‘testosterone only makes me the man I have always been.’


You would have thought that the Science Museum would have learnt from this episode when deciding how to replace this display section. It seems not.


The Daily Telegraph alerted me that the display had been replaced and described how a “controversial cabinet featuring a fake penis and chest-binding equipment was taken down but updated display accused of sexist world view”.


I decided to visit the Museum to assess the display myself. 


The display has been put up as a 2-sided freestanding display and is full of ideology mixed with science. The assumption must be that the aim is to legitimise the ideology. It starts off as it means to go on stating that scientists study sex and gender.

It is very shocking to me to see our national Science Museum make statements such as this below. Again, “gender” is inserted into a totally scientific process of puberty which everyone should go through. It is also assumed that a gender identity is normal, and everyone has one. Which is a totally ideological, not scientific, stance.

And is that bold “t” in spurt just a mistake?

It is not surprising either, as the Museum staff try to marry up ideology with science, that some of the display is utterly incoherent. For example, on one side the display describes how sex is revealed before birth. On the other it states that gender identity may not match the sex assigned at birth. 


As the UK Network of Professors of Midwifery and Maternal and Newborn Health points out: ‘Sex is recorded at birth, not “assigned” at birth, the word ‘assigned’ implies the process is arbitrary.’ In

The Museum has approved this part of the display. They insinuate that the use of puberty blockers for children with gender distress is similarly effective and approved as their use for precocious puberty. This is totally irresponsible. When puberty blockers are used for precocious puberty it is short term, and the clinical need is that a young child is unable to cope with puberty. The Cass review is very clear that when used by gender questioning children, the child is locked into a treatment pathway which has unknown impacts on development.  It has been confirmed that under the new gender clinics commissioned by NHS England, puberty blockers will only be administered as part of clinical research and are not routinely available.

It is notable that the whole display conflates sex and gender, trying to give legitimacy to gender as a scientific fact. It is also notable and totally inappropriate that most of the personal statements on the display are ideologically oriented ones from people who consider themselves to be transgender or “non-binary”.


Even worse, there are statements from parents of children who have a Difference of Sexual Development (DSD). DSD affected people have requested again and again that their medical condition is not used to try to push the belief that sex is not binary.


There are only 2 statements from others. There are none about any other kind of identity. One extraordinary statement is made that a trans identified woman escaped stereotypes. However, if she had escaped stereotypes, she would be living her life as a masculine woman and would not have felt that masculinity precluded her womanhood.

It is totally scientifically inaccurate to state that she has “experience that comes from living as both male and female”.


Like its previous one, the Science Museum needs to remove this display.


But this time it needs to replace it with one with fully scientific information and leave out references to gender identity ideology which is a sociological not scientific concept. 


The Science Museum states in its website introduction:


We aim to inspire visitors with award-winning exhibitions, iconic objects and stories of incredible scientific achievement.


The Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical advancement from across the globe.”


The Science Museum needs to get back to science and stop pushing contested ideology.




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