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Mayo Clinic Professor Muzzled Following Women’s Sports Comments

by | Mon, Jun 26 2023

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A highly regarded professor at the internationally renowned Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science has been threatened with dismissal following his comments about men competing in women’s sport as well as ‘convalescent plasma therapy.’

Dr. Michael Joyner M.D. is a professor of anesthesiology and physician-research in exercise who has worked at the Mayo Clinic for nearly 36 years.

Earlier this year he was suspended after being quoted in a New York Times article as saying that when it comes to telling the difference between biological males and females: “You see the divergence immediately as the testosterone surges into the boys. There are dramatic differences in performances. There are social aspects to sport, but physiology and biology underpin it — testosterone is the 800-pound gorilla.”

The article was titled What Lia Thomas Could Mean for Women’s Elite Sports about transgender swimmer Lia Thomas who won numerous races and broke multiple records in women’s collegiate events. Professor Joyner’s comments were picked up by several media outlets and used in many articles about the unfair advantage Thomas had over female swimmers.

CBN News reported that peer-reviewed studies found that even with testosterone suppression treatment, athletes with biologically male DNA and physiology have an unfair advantage. “Lia Thomas is the manifestation of the scientific evidence. The reduction in testosterone did not remove the biological advantage,” Dr. Ross Tucker, a sports physiologist who consults on world athletics, told The Times.

Professor Joyner was also outspoken about the benefits of convalescent plasma as a treatment for immune-compromised individuals who contracted COVID-19. He expressed frustration in a CNN interview with what he called the National Institute of Health (NIH) “bureaucratic rope-a-dope” policy and its acting as a “wet blanket” toward the use of convalescent plasma as a COVID treatment.

The college told him his opinions had proved “problematic” saying: “The fact that your selection of idiomatic expressions continues, has caused the institution to question whether you are able to appropriately represent Mayo Clinic in media interactions.”

It ordered him to: “Discuss approved topics only and stick to prescribed messaging; eliminate use of idiomatic language. Failure to fully comply with the expectations outlined or any additional validated complaints from any staff, or any form of retaliation will result in termination of employment.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) says Professor Joyner “never represented Mayo Clinic in media interactions and consistently made it clear to journalists and his college that he spoke only for himself because faculty have the right to speak as private citizens on matters of public concern.”

“Mayo Clinic was not content to punish Professor Joyner for the comments he already made, it also muzzled him going forward. In other words: Sit down and shut up. He may not speak, and when he does, he must discuss approved topics only and stick to prescribed messaging. This expansive gag order violates the free speech promises Mayo Clinic makes to its faculty,” FIRE asserted.

Mayo Clinic insists it did not discipline Professor Joyner for statements he made about transgender athletes, but for “treating coworkers disrespectfully and for making unprofessional comments about the NIH’s regulation of convalescent plasma.” He remains silenced, denied his annual raise, and banned from speaking publicly without college permission, pending an appeal against his disciplinary action.

Almost 30 professors from Ivy League universities wrote a letter to the Mayo Clinic to protest his suspension. Colleagues from Harvard, Yale, Columbia and other universities wrote: ‘Placing academic freedom in jeopardy is certain to tarnish Mayo’s reputation among the many who have always thought of Mayo as a beacon of scientific integrity.’

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