What is a woman? Health boss Brendan Murphy provides 78-word definition


Australia’s top health bureaucrat has taken nearly three months to come up with a 78-word definition for a common term.

Australia’s top health bureaucrat has taken nearly three months to come up with a 78-word definition of “woman”.

Health Secretary Brendan Murphy was asked for a definition of woman by Liberal Senator Alex Antic during Senate Estimates in April, but chose to take the question on notice.

“Look, I think there are a variety of definitions,” Dr Murphy replied after an awkward silence.

“It’s a very, it’s a very … it’s a very contested space at the moment, Senator. I mean there are obviously biological definitions but there are definitions in terms of how people identify themselves, so we’re happy to provide our working definition on notice.”

Senator Antic says that 78 days later, he received a 78-word response from the Health Department “which read like a position statement from a gender studies department of a woke university”.

The official definition provided by the Health Department reads, “The frameworks adopted to define a person’s gender include chromosomal makeup, the gender assigned at birth, and the gender with which a person identifies. The Department of Health does not adopt a single definition. Health policies and access to health programs are based on clinical evidence and clinical need for all Australians, regardless of gender identity, biological characteristics, or genetic variations. Our programs are designed to be inclusive and to provide better health and wellbeing for all Australians.”

Senator Antic told the Herald Sun the definition was “absolute drivel”.

“There really couldn’t be a simpler question than asking how they define a women, yet another one of our taxpayer-funded departments has shown how deeply it has become infected with the corrosive principles of radical gender theory,” he said.

“The Minister must take urgent action to remove this rhetoric from the Department of Health to give Australians confidence in the bona fides of the department.”

Writing on Facebook, Senator Antic said, “During the Covid period I formed the view our bureaucracies were out of touch. Nothing in this 78-word nonsense has done anything to dissuade me of that view. Your tax dollars are paying for this.”

During the election campaign last month, both Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese provided simple definitions of the word.

Asked by journalist Deb Knight during the Channel 9 debate, Mr Albanese replied, “An adult female.”

Mr Morrison said, “An adult member of the female sex.”

Knight said, “Because there’s been a degree of confusion around that issue, so good to get your clarity on that.”

“Not confused at all,” Mr Morrison replied.

“I don’t think it’s confusing,” Mr Albanese agreed.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet was also asked on morning radio by 2GB host Ben Fordham.

Mr Perrottet replied that the “obvious answer” was “a female adult human being”.

In March, Mr Albanese came under fire for saying men can’t have babies.

He made the comments in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, where he declared the Labor Party was not for the woke left.

Some social media users suggested his answer was transphobic and questioned why he didn’t respond “yes” to acknowledge transgender males who give birth.

The question “what is a woman” has been popularised by conservatives in the United States, who claim proponents of left-wing gender theory are unable to provide a simple answer.

US President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson was asked to provide a definition by Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn during a recent confirmation hearing.

“Can I provide a definition? No. I can’t. I’m not a biologist,” Judge Jackson replied.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a woman is “an adult female human being”.

Conservative podcast host Matt Walsh from The Daily Wire has frequently posed the question during debates, including on a recent episode of Dr Phil featuring two transgender activists.

Earlier this month Walsh released a documentary titled What is a Woman?, in which he “fearlessly questions the logic behind a gender ideology movement that has taken aim at women and children”, the synopsis reads.

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Originally published as Health boss Brendan Murphy provides 78-word definition of ‘woman’



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