Battle lines drawn over sex, gender at major anthropology conference amid controversial cancellation
October 7, 2023
North America’s largest annual gathering of anthropologists won’t get to hear why sex remains a “necessary analytic category in anthropology,” not replaceable by gender identity, because the idea is comparable to eugenics and would “cause harm” to everyone in the discipline.
That was the explanation the American Anthropological Association and Canadian Anthropology Society gave for canceling the session “Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby” scheduled for their November joint conference in Toronto.
AAA President Ramona Pérez and CAS President Monica Heller provided few details in a Sept. 25 letter notifying the sexperts their session wouldn’t happen, claiming the groups’ executive committees received requests to review its content from “numerous members.”
Their review determined its “ideas were advanced in such a way as to cause harm to members represented by the Trans and LGBTQI [sic] of the anthropological community as well as the community at large,” the presidents wrote. “Going forward, we will undertake a major review of the processes associated with vetting sessions” at annual meetings.
The sexperts hit back in a public letter the next day, accusing the two groups of choosing to “forbid scholarly dialogue” by “an international panel concerned about the erasure of women.”
“What are they going to cancel next[,] teaching evolution?” pediatric gender clinic whistleblower Jamie Reed, who says she learned to “sex skeletal remains” as an anthropology major, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
The anthropology groups escalated in kind, giving Just the News a statement Wednesday against “transphobia in anthropology” that accuses the panelists of making the same arguments used to justify “race science” a century ago. It did not specify how many members complained or what exactly they said, as the sexperts and Just the News sought.