Table of Contents

Open Letter to the American Anthropological Association and Canadian Anthropology Society, September 29, 2023

Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

Note: FIRE invites additional faculty to add their names to the list of signers. Titles are for identification purposes only. Faculty who are interested in joining this letter may email

Dear Drs. Ramona Pérez and Monica Heller:

We are deeply concerned by the cancellation of a previously approved panel at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association and the Canadian Anthropology Society over vague and subjective concerns that the panelists’ views on biological sex would cause “harm.”

The AAA and CASCA approved the panel, “Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby: Why biological sex remains a necessary analytic category in anthropology,” in July. Yet on September 25, you sent a letter informing the panelists that the conference would no longer host the panel because “the ideas were advanced in such a way as to cause harm to members represented by the Trans and LGBTQI of the anthropological community as well as the community at large.” The letter claimed the AAA and CASCA reached the decision “in the spirit of respect for our values, the safety and dignity of our members, and the scientific integrity of the program(me).” Neither organization had previously contacted the panelists to raise any concerns.

In a September 28 statement, the AAA and CASCA claimed the panel was rejected because it “relied on assumptions that run contrary to the settled science in our discipline, framed in ways that do harm to vulnerable members of our community.” The statement accused the panelists of “advanc[ing] a ‘scientific’ reason to question the humanity of already marginalized groups of people.” 

Canceling the panel represents a retreat from the AAA’s laudable mission of “advancing human understanding and applying this understanding to the world’s most pressing problems.” That mission requires unwavering dedication to free inquiry and open dialogue. It cannot coexist with inherently subjective standards of “harm,” “safety,” and “dignity,” which are inevitably used to suppress ideas that cause discomfort or conflict with certain political or ideological commitments.

The AAA and CASCA’s belated claim that the panel was canceled due to a lack of scientific rigor — rather than to placate those offended by the panelists’ views — rings hollow in light of the organizations’ prior approval of the panel and repeated objections to the panelists presenting their ideas in a way that causes “harm.”

Those who believe the panelists’ ideas are harmful or wrong are free to express that view in many ways. But their objections do not justify shutting down discussion: To the contrary, they underscore the need for open and robust dialogue that explores the merits of divergent perspectives. In fact, the panelists said they would have welcomed “lively contestation” had the AAA and CASCA allowed the session to proceed. Free trade in ideas is the only way to produce and refine knowledge. If, instead, only one side of an active scientific debate is able to speak, observers will understandably lose trust in its claims and findings, knowing that dissenting voices have been silenced.

The cancellation of this panel sends a chilling message to all social scientists that scholarly debate on complex issues of sex and gender is no longer free. We urge the AAA and CASCA to reconsider this decision and to recommit to the principles of intellectual freedom and open discourse that are essential to the organizations’ academic missions. 


  1. Gabriel Arellano, PhD, Assistant Research Scientist, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
  2. Dan Eisenberg, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington
  3. Maria Teschler-Nicola, Professor of Bioanthropology, University of Vienna
  4. Sandra Fahy, Ph.D., Anthropologist, Global and International Studies, Carleton University
  5. Elizabeth Coville, Assistant Professor (retired) of Anthropology, Hamline University
  6. Aje Carlbom, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Social Anthropology, Malmö University, Sweden
  7. Nestor T. Castro, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of the Philippines
  8. Paul Brodwin, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  9. Gerhard W. Weber, Professor for Anthropology and Head of Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Vienna, Austria
  10. Joe Nalven, Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology Instructor, University of San Diego and San Diego Community College
  11. Chris von Rueden, Ph.D., Anthropology, Associate Professor, University of Richmond
  12. Michael Jindra, Research Scholar and Cultural Anthropologist, Boston University
  13. Sharlotte Neely, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Anthropology, Northern Kentucky University
  14. Philip Carl Salzman, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, McGill University
  15. Katrin Schäfer, MSc, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna
  16. Raymond Hames, Professor of Anthropology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  17. Maxine L. Margolis, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, University of Florida
  18. Douglas Bafford, Visiting Assistant Professor Anthropology, College of the Holy Cross
  19. Jay Bergman, Professor of History, Central Connecticut State University
  20. Peter DeScioli, Associate Professor, Stony Brook University
  21. Raja Halwani, Professor of Philosophy, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  22. Holger L. Kern, Associate Professor of Political Science, Florida State University
  23. Kevin T. Leicht, Professor and Science Team Lead, Discovery Partners Institute, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  24. Marcia McKelligan, Senior Professor of Philosophy, DePauw University
  25. Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
  26. David Ross, Professor of Mathematics (Emeritus), Rochester Institute of Technology
  27. Joshua Schwartz, Associate Professor, Trinity University
  28. Jeffrey Snyder, Associate Professor, Carleton College
  29. Larry Wasserman, Professor, Dept of Statistics and Data Science, Carnegie Mellon University
  30. Marc Defant, Professor, University of South Florida
  31. Christopher J. Ferguson, Professor of Psychology, Stetson University
  32. Robert P. George, JD, DPhil, DCL, DLitt, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
  33. Cass Sever, Visiting Instructor in Sociology, Mount Holyoke College
  34. Samuel Engel, Lecturer, Boston University Questrom School of Business
  35. Allan C. Stam, Professor, University of Virginia
  36. Tony Williams, Professor, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
  37. Darij Grinberg, Assistant Professor, Mathematics Department, College of Arts and Sciences, Drexel University
  38. Sean C. Rife, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Murray State University
  39. Rachel Altman, Assistant Professor, Statistics and Actuarial Science, Simon Fraser University
  40. James West, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt University
  41. Chandra Sripada, Theophile Raphael Professor, Departments of Philosophy and Psychiatry Director, Weinberg Institute for Cognitive Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  42. William M. London, Professor, Department of Public Health, California State University, Los Angeles
  43. Mark McNeilly, Professor of the Practice Marketing & Organizational Behavior, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  44. Jan H. Blits, Professor Emeritus, University of Delaware
  45. Nathanial Wilcox, Professor, Appalachian State University
  46. David Levene, Professor of Classics, New York University
  47. Dr. Jordan Beck, Professor of Chemistry, Concordia University, Wisconsin
  48. Jeff Mann, Associate Professor, Virginian Technological University
  49. Stuart Reges, Teaching Professor, University of Washington
  50. Craig Larson, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, Virginia Commonwealth University
  51. Todd Reeves, Associate Professor, Northern Illinois University
  52. Dr. Paul H. Comitz, Associate Professor, University of South Carolina
  53. Nick Longrich, Senior Lecturer, University of Bath
  54. Michael J. Miller, Ph.D., Associate Professor, SUNY Upstate Medical University
  55. Harald Uhlig, Ph.D., The Bruce Allen and Barbara Ritzenthaler Professor in Economics, The University of Chicago
  56. Dr. Kelly J. Ward, Interim Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs, Professor of Strategy and Policy, National War College
  57. Jonathan Katz, Professor of Physics, Washington University of Saint Louis
  58. Phillippa Carter, Teaching Professor, Department of Religious Studies, McMaster University
  59. Maureane Hoffman, Ph.D., Professor of Pathology, Duke University School of Medicine
  60. Kathryn Lynch, Katharine Lee Bates and Sophie Chantal Hart Professor of English, Wellesley College
  61. Matthew C. Poling, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center
  62. Jeremy Ravi Mumford, Associate Professor, Department of History, Brown University
  63. Jeremy C. Fransen, Ph.D., Assistant Teaching Professor, Arizona State University
  64. Natalia Boliari, Associate Professor of Economics, Manhattan College
  65. Paul Sokol, Professor, Department of Physics, Indiana University, Bloomington
  66. D.L. Noorlander, Associate Professor of History, SUNY Oneonta
  67. Catherine Salmon, Professor, University of Redlands
  68. Catherine Harnois, Professor of Sociology, Wake Forest University
  69. George H. Monahan, Ph.D., Professor of History, Suffolk County Community College, Eastern Campus
  70. David Brichoux, Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Kansas
  71. Louis Edgar Esparza, Professor, California State University, Los Angeles
  72. Jonathan Gallant, Profesor of Genome Sciences Emeritus, University of Washington
  73. Steven Sloman, Professor, Brown University
  74. Elizabeth Kusko, Associate Professor of Political Science, William Peace University
  75. Kingsley R. Browne, Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School
  76. Joseph Horton, MD, Professor of Radiology, Neurosurgery, and Neurology, Retired, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  77. Brian Mornar, Adjunct Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Columbia College Chicago
  78. Eugene Heath, Professor of Philosophy, State University of New York at New Paltz
  79. Camilo Ortiz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, Director of Clinical Training Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, Long Island University, C.W. Post Campus
  80. Dr. Bryan Smith, Political Science Department, South Texas College
  81. Rachel H. Adler, Professor, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  82. James Flynn, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Caldwell University
  83. Rebekah Wanic, Lecturer, University of San Diego
  84. David Moshman, Professor Emeritus of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  85. Richard Johnston, Associate Professor, Department of Business and Economics, Monmouth College
  86. Steve Earnest, Professor of Theatre, Coastal Carolina University
  87. Jukka Savolainen, Professor, Wayne State University
  88. Jerry Glenn, Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati
  89. Andrew Delton, Associate Professor, Political Science, Stony Brook University
  90. Ahmet Sezen, Professor of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, St. Cloud State University
  91. Bruce Palfey, Associate Professor, University of Michigan Medical School
  92. Kurt Ward, Ph.D., JD, MBA, Associate Professor, Director of Criminal Justice, Elms College
  93. Marisol Quintanilla, Ph.D., Nematologist, Michigan State University
  94. Andy Lamey, Teaching Professor, Philosophy Department, University of California, San Diego
  95. Kevin L. Cope, Robert and Rita Watts Adams Professor of English Literature, Louisiana State University
  96. Yale Sharvit, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
  97. Sean Bellavitti, Adjunct Professor, Toronto Metropolitan University
  98. Stephen P. Garvey, A. Robert Noll Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
  99. Gregory Conti, Assistant Professor of Politics, Princeton University
  100. Richard A. Shweder, Harold Higgins Swift Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago
  101. Lyell Asher, Associate Professor of English, Lewis and Clark College
  102. Robert Lynch, Postdoctoral Researcher, Pennsylvania State University
  103. James Noel Ward, M.Sc.F., F.R.M., P.R.M., D.E.A., Assitant Professor of Finance, Department of Economics and Management Science, The American University of Paris
  104. Sadredin Moosavi, Faculty of Geology, Rochester Community Technical College
  105. Melissa Gwyn, Associate Professor of Art, University of California at Santa Cruz
  106. Gary Milligan, DNP, MSHA, CNE, Assistant Professor, University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Nursing
  107. Erich Vieth, Adjunct Law Professor, Saint Louis University
  108. Jeff Mitchell, Professor of Philosophy, Arkansas Technical University
  109. Ellen Lewin, Professor Emerita, University of Iowa
  110. Jerry Coyne, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolution, The University of Chicago
  111. Mark Lee, Professor of Practice, University of San Diego School of Law
  112. Richard Born, MD, Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School
  113. Philip Pecorino, Ph.D., Philosophy, Queensborough Community College
  114. Matthias Felleisen, Trustee Professor, College of Computer Science, Northeastern University
  115. Thomas D. Cavenagh, JD, Schneller Sisters Professor of Leadership, Ethics, & Values, Professor of Business Law, North Central College
  116. Dr. Dwayne Ball, Professor Emeritus, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  117. Christopher DiCarlo, Senior Lecturer, University of Toronto
  118. Lydia Ortega, Professor of Economics Emeritus, San Jose State University
  119. Cynthia L. Martin, Associate Professor, University of Maryland
  120. Linda de Morales, Chemistry Instructor, Madera Community College
  121. William Matchin, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of South Carolina
  122. Ryan A. Davis, Professor, Illinois State University
  123. Kellar Autumn, Professor of Biology, Lewis & Clark College
  124. Amna Khalid, Associate Professor of History, Carleton College
  125. Patricia Stokes, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Instruction, Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies, Ohio University
  126. Matt Young, Retired Teaching Professor, Colorado School of Mines
  127. Bahar Tajrobehkar, DEI Director, University of Toronto
  128. David Puts, Professor of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University
  129. Nathan Street, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Graduate Education, Southern Wesleyan University
  130. Susan Glosser, Associate Professor of History, Lewis & Clark College
  131. Jason Bohenek, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of North Texas
  132. Matt Marsden, Staff, Pennsylvania State University
  133. Paul Wagner, Adjunct Instructor, University of Virginia
  134. Douglas Brumm, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, Michigan Technological University
  135. Dr. Richard J. Prystowsky, Retired, Former Provost and Professor, Marion Technical College
  136. David A. Gerber, Distinguished Professor of History (Emeritus) and Senior Fellow in History and Disability Studies, University at Buffalo
  137. Gregory Shepherd, Professor, Kauai Community College
  138. Walter E. Block, Ph.D., Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair Professor of Economics, Loyola University, New Orleans
  139. Mark Srednicki, Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara
  140. Cynthia Burack, Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies, The Ohio State University
  141. Moti Gorin, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Colorado State University
  142. Dennis Hejhal, Professor of Mathematics, University of Minnesota
  143. Jonathan Zimmerman, Berkowitz Professor Education, University of Pennsylvania
  144. David Bertioli, Distinguished Investigator and Professor, University of Georgia
  145. David Churchman, Professor Emeritus, Behavioral Sciences, California State University, Dominguez Hills
  146. Joseph K. Leahy, Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law, Houston
  147. Coel Hellier, Professor of Astrophysics, Keele University
  148. Maximilian Werner, Associate Professor (Lecturer), Writing and Rhetoric Studies, University of Utah
  149. Craig Gibson, Professor, University Libraries, The Ohio State University
  150. Dr. R. Keith Sawyer, Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  151. Jeremy Genovese, Ph.D., Emeritus Associate Professor of Human Development and Educational Psychology, Cleveland State University
  152. Melanie MacEacheron, Assistant Teaching Professor, Arizona State University
  153. Eric Biber, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  154. John A. Robinson, MD, Professor Emeritus, Medicine and Microbiology/Immunology, Loyola University Medical Center
  155. Edward Harrington, Ed.D., Professor of Music, Art, & Music Chair, Student Affairs Chair, New Mexico Highlands University
  156. Mark Warschauer, Professor of Education, University of California, Irvine
  157. Alex Small, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  158. Andrew Van Horn, Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Physics, Case Western Reserve University
  159. Peter Bornschein, Part-Time Lecturer, Department of History & Philosophy, Eastern Michigan University
  160. Vânia Penha-Lopes, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Bloomfield College of Montclair State University
  161. Jeff Greensite, Professor of Physics, San Francisco State University
  162. Matt Recla, Ph.D., Associate Director, University Foundations, Boise State University
  163. Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Department of Politics and Department of History & Classics, Acadia University
  164. Anthony R. Napoli, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, SUNY Suffolk
  165. Dr. Neil Thin, Research Fellow, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh
  166. Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Professor Emeritus, Department of Economics, San Jose State University
  167. Kenneth Paul Erickson, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Hunter College
  168. D. Kim Rossmo, Professor, Texas State University
  169. Ethan L. Miller, Professor Emeritus, Computer Science & Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz
  170. Joseph H. Manson, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles
  171. Dr. Anna Krylov, Professor of Chemistry, University of Southern California
  172. Sidney Karin, Professor Emeritus, Computer Science & Engineering; Director Emeritus, San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California, San Diego
  173. Steve Stewart-Williams, Professor of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Malaysia
  174. Howard S. Schwartz, Emeritus Professor of Organizational Behavior, School of Business Administration, Oakland University
  175. Joseph Yi, Associate Professor of Political Science, Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea
  176. Jeffrey S. Flier, MD, Higginson Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  177. Ryan Wasser, Faculty, Philosophy and English Studies, Luzerne County Community College
  178. PJ Verrecchia, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, York College of Pennsylvania
  179. Günter P. Wagner, Ph.D., N.A.S., Alison Richard Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University
  180. Mihaela Pavlicev, Professor of Theoretical Evolutionary Biology, University of Vienna, Austria
  181. Dr. Chris C. Martin, Lecturer, Psychology and Core Studies, Oglethorpe University
  182. Brian R. Patterson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication, West Virginia University
  183. Robert Bliss, Emeritus Professor of Finance, Wake Forest University
  184. Richard McNally,  Professor, Harvard University
  185. Richard Bugg, Professor of Theatre, Southern Utah University
  186. Tim Martin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, Kennesaw State University
  187. David A. Kareken, Ph.D., Professor, Indiana University School of Medicine
  188. Christine P. Ries, Professor of Economics, George Institute of Technology
  189. James Dougal Fleming, Professor, Department of English, Simon Fraser University
  190. Flynn Cratty, Executive Director, Council on Academic Freedom, Harvard University
  191. Jacob Shell, Associate Professor of Geography, Temple University
  192. Dr. John Armstrong, Reader, King's College London
  193. Andrew L. Johns, Professor of History, Brigham Young University
  194. Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University
  195. John Myers, Career Instructor, University of Oregon
  196. Dr. Mark Steckbeck, Associate Professor of Economics, Lundy Chair in Business Philosophy, Lundy-Fetterman School of Business, Campbell University
  197. Edward Tyndall, Assistant Professor, University of Colorado, Denver
  198. Leonid Pugachev, Assistant Professor of Finance, University of Missouri, St. Louis
  199. Mark Collard, Canada Research Chair and Professor, Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University
  200. Alice Sullivan, Professor of Sociology, University College London
  201. Christi Hein, J.D., MEd, Director of Instruction/Chair of Free Speech and Civil Discourse Committee, Colorado Mesa University
  202. Stephen R. Taaffe, Professor of History and Regents Scholar, Stephen F. Austin State University
  203. Michelle Shipworth, Associate Professor, University College London
  204. William G. Mayer, Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University
  205. Dennis Adams, Senior Instructor, Oregon State University
  206. Stuart Russell, Retired Professor, Macquarie University School of Law, Sydney, Austrailia
  207. Laree Huntsman, Psychology Professor, San Jose State University
  208. Abhishek Saha, Professor of Mathematics, Queen Mary University of London
  209. Dennis Sandgathe, Senior Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University
  210. Sandra Woien, Ph.D., Associate Teaching Professor, SHPRS Philosophy Faculty, Arizona State University
  211. Caleb Husmann, Assistant Professor of Political Science, William Peace University
  212. Gilly Koritzky, Ph.D., Associate Professor, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  213. Sara Johnsdotter, Professor, Faculty of Health and Society, Malmö University, Sweden
  214. Peter S. Fosl, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Program Director PPE, Transylvania University
  215. Kurt M. Cuffey, Professor of Geography, University of California, Berkeley
  216. Ian Pace, Professor of Music, City University of London