The “Is Sex Binary?” Debate Is Coming to MIT April 17, 7-8:30pm Eastern

The “Is Sex Binary?” Debate Is Coming to MIT April 17, 7-8:30pm Eastern

March 20, 2024, Cambridge, MA. The MIT Free Speech Alliance (MFSA), MIT’s Students for Open Inquiry, and the Sloan School Chapter of the Adam Smith Society will be hosting an Oxford Union style debate on the proposition, “That sex is biological and binary and gender identity is no substitute for sex in social policy,” at MIT's Wong Auditorium at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 17. The event will also be livestreamed, and later posted at MFSA’s YouTube page.

This is the third in an ongoing debate series organized by the MIT Free Speech Alliance designed to model what a vigorous but civil debate on a contentious issue looks like. (The Spring 2023 debate recording has gotten over 28,000 views.) MFSA does not take an official position on this controversial issue, or any issue selected for debate. What we and our cosponsors have in common is that we insist that controversial issues be openly and civilly discussed rather than having one side or the other cancelled or shouted down. See the full list of national co-sponsors below.

Nadine Strossen, past president of the ACLU and now Senior Fellow with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, has agreed to reprise her role as moderator. The Affirmative Team will consist of Dr. Alex Byrne, Professor of Philosophy at MIT and author of Trouble with Gender: Sex Facts, Gender Fictions, and Dr. Holly Lawford-Smith, Associate Professor in Political Philosophy at the University of Melbourne and author of Gender-Critical Feminism. The Negative Team will be Dr. Alice Dreger, American historian and journalist, a Guggenheim Fellow, recipient of the Heterodox Academy’s Courage Award, and author of Galileo’s Middle Fingerand Aaron Kimberly, a trans man, mental health nurse, Director of Public Engagement with the LGBT Courage Coalition, and co-host of the Transparency podcast.

Contact: Peter Bonilla, MFSA Executive Director,, 215-531-2171.

See the debate’s webpage for bios, photos, cosponsor logos, and updates, and to register for live attendance. It will be possible to interview the debaters before the debate; contact us for details.

Host: the MIT chapter of the Adam Smith Society Co-Hosts: The MIT Free Speech Alliance, MIT’s Students for Open Inquiry.


Alumni Free Speech Alliance (AFSA)

American Council of Trustees & Alumni (ACTA)

AZ Strategies,

Braver Angels,

Cornell Free Speech Alliance (CFSA)

David Network,

Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR),

Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE),

Free to Choose Network,

Harvard Alumni for Free Speech (HAFFS),

Heterodox Academy,

Incubate Debate,

Institute for Liberal Values,

Heresy Press,

James Madison Program at Princeton University,

John Jay Society at Columbia University

National Association of Scholars (NAS),

Stanton Foundation,

University of North Carolina Alumni Free Speech Alliance


The MIT Free Speech Alliance (MFSA) has over 1,000 members. Founded by MIT alumni in 2021 following the cancellation of Dorian Abbot’s Carlson Lecture. MFSA is a member of the Alumni Free Speech Alliance, together with sister organizations at Cornell, Harvard, and the University of Virginia, among other institutions. MFSA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and is independent of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.