Debate: Is Sex Binary?

by Adam Smith Society


Wed, Apr 17, 2024

7 PM – 8:30 PM EDT (GMT-4)

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Wong Auditorium (E51-115)

2 Amherst St, Cambridge, MA 02142, United States

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With the support of the MIT Free Speech Alliance, on April 17, the Adam Smith Society is hosting an Oxford Union-style debate on the following proposition: “Resolved, that sex is biological and binary, and gender identity is no substitute for sex in social policy.”

Alex Byrne, Professor of Philosophy at MIT and author of Trouble with Gender: Sex Facts, Gender Fictions, and Holly Lawford-Smith, Associate Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Melbourne and author of Gender-Critical Feminism, are arguing in favor of the proposition. Alice Dreger, historian and author of Galileo’s Middle Finger, and Aaron Kimberly, Executive Director of the Gender Dysphoria Alliance and co-host of the Transparency podcast, are arguing against the proposition. Nadine Strossen, professor emerita at New York Law School and former president of the ACLU, is serving as moderator. The debate begins at 7:00 pm ET in Wong Auditorium (E51-115) and will last an hour and a half. Light refreshments will be served beginning at 6:00 pm in the adjoining foyer.

For those unable to attend in person, the debate will be livestreamed on the MIT Free Speech Alliance's YouTube channel. Please do not register to attend the event if you plan on watching the livestream.

Neither the Adam Smith Society nor the MIT Free Speech Alliance takes an official position on the debate proposition. Rather, our goal is to provide a model of vigorous yet civil discussion for both the MIT community and the wider public. We hope that you will join us in this endeavor.

Note: Those without a SloanGroups account can register for the debate by selecting the "Register" option and creating a first-time user guest account.

Food Provided (Light refreshments)


Wong Auditorium (E51-115)

2 Amherst St, Cambridge, MA 02142, United States


Alex Byrne's profile photo

Alex Byrne

Alex Byrne is a Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a founding member of the Academic Freedom Alliance. His main interests are the philosophy of mind, epistemology and metaphysics, and the philosophy of sex and gender. His books include Readings on Color, volumes 1 and 2 (MIT, 1997; co-edited with David Hilbert); Transparency and Self-Knowledge (Oxford, 2018); The Norton Introduction to Philosophy (third edition in preparation, co-edited with Gideon Rosen and others). His most recent book is Trouble with Gender: Sex Facts, Gender Fictions (Polity, 2024).

Holly Lawford-Smith's profile photo

Holly Lawford-Smith

Holly Lawford-Smith is an Associate Professor in Political Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. Her most recent books are Is It Wrong To Buy Sex? (2024), Sex Matters: Essays in Gender-Critical Philosophy (2023), and Gender-Critical Feminism (2022). She also writes regularly for Quillette and Fairer Disputations.

Alice Dreger's profile photo

Alice Dreger

Alice Dreger, PhD, is an American historian and journalist, Guggenheim Fellow, and author of Galileo’s Middle Finger, published by Penguin Press and named a New York Times Editors’ Choice. She served as President of the Intersex Society of North America, and her work on intersex includes three books plus a TEDx talk viewed over a million times. Her bylines include the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, WIRED, and the Atlantic. The Heterodox Academy bestowed on Dreger its inaugural Courage Award for her championing of free speech and open inquiry, and she now serves on that organization’s Advisory Council.

Aaron Kimberly's profile photo

Aaron Kimberly

Aaron Kimberly is a female to male trans man with a rare ovotesticular DSD who lived as a masculine lesbian as a young adult, prior to legally changing sex in 2006. He’s been a nurse with a specialization in mental health since 2008, working in various inpatient and community settings, including the BC Provincial Tertiary Eating Disorders Program, and Foundry, an integrated, multiservice centre for youth. In 2021, he cofounded the Gender Dysphoria Alliance and in 2022, the LGBT Courage Coalition. He cohosts the Transparency podcast, a “compassionate yet heterodox conversation” on the topic of trans.

Nadine Strossen's profile photo

Nadine Strossen

Nadine Strossen, the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law Emerita at New York Law School and past President of the American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008), is a Senior Fellow with FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education) and a leading expert and frequent speaker/media commentator on constitutional law and civil liberties, who has testified before Congress on multiple occasions. She serves on the advisory boards of the ACLU, Academic Freedom Alliance, Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR), Heterodox Academy, National Coalition Against Censorship, and the University of Austin.

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