“Debate on Transgenderism and Womanhood.”

The PCPR fully supports the position of the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh (CNUP) Diversity and Inclusion Committee on the anti-trans events to be hosted on the University of Pittsburgh Campus. The note from the CNUP DIC to the CNUP Community perfectly captures the issues here and what should be the University stance on these events:

Dear CNUP Community,
It has come to our attention that the University of Pittsburgh is hosting several anti-trans events in the coming month, most notably an April 18th event from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (a conservative nonprofit): “Debate on Transgenderism and Womanhood.” This debate features Michael Knowles, a right-wing political commentator for the Daily Wire and PragerU. At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Knowles openly encouraged the “eradication of transgenderism from public life”, claiming that those who identify as transgender are “laboring a delusion that needs to be corrected”. On the opposite side of the debate will be Deirdre McCloskey, a trans woman who is a highly awarded and productive professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. While featuring Dr. McCloskey in this debate amplifies a trans voice to stand in opposition to Knowles’ harmful rhetoric, the existence of trans and other queer individuals is not a debate but a right that must be vehemently protected.
The University of Pittsburgh asserts that as one of its core values it is “committed to supporting and sustaining an inclusive and equitable campus environment – one that welcomes, values, and embraces the diverse perspectives of community members of all sexual orientation, gender identities, and gender expressions.” Allowing this event stands in direct opposition to these stated ideals. Inviting individuals into on-campus spaces who challenge the very existence of trans people poses a clear safety risk.
Austrian philosopher (and fellow academic) Karl Popper described what is known as the “paradox of tolerance.” In order to maintain a tolerant society, we must not tolerate intolerance, as it threatens to undermine the foundation of tolerance itself. No matter how counterintuitive this may seem, we are seeing the results of intolerant rhetoric toward queer individuals nationwide.
We are personally offended by this event and the university’s inaction. Moreover, we are committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment in the CNUP. We recognize that human rights are non-debatable, and that this event is deeply concerning, especially for LGBTQIA+ individuals. The CNUP personally has no power over this event, though we are voicing our concerns and encouraging others to do the same while focusing on how we can empower LGBTQIA+ members of our community. If you would like to voice your personal concerns regarding this event, we recommend contacting the following:
• Chancellor Patrick Gallagher: chancellor@pitt.edu
• Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor (VC) Ann Cudd: provost@provost.pitt.edu
o Ann Cudd sent a statement against the event on March 16.
• VC for Engagement and Community Affairs Lina Dostilio: LDD20@pitt.edu: Specifically to discuss how this impacts the greater Pittsburgh community.
• VC for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Clyde Wilson Pickett: CWP19@pitt.edu,: Specifically to discuss how this violates the university’s DEI commitments.
• VC for Alumni Engagement and Philanthropy Kris Davitt: davitt@pitt.edu: Specifically to discuss how hosting this event will impact (your) donations or fundraising.
• VC for University Relations and Chancellor’s Chief of Staff Kevin Washo: kwasho@pitt.edu
• Vice Provost for Graduate Studies Amanda Godley: agodley@pitt.edu
• Student Affairs: deanofstudents@pitt.edu, 412-648-1006: Various staff members depending on the approach you want to take. Emails are not listed but can be found by searching their names in Outlook.
• A petition against the University of Pittsburgh has also gained traction in both state and local news.

We maintain our commitment to fostering an inclusive environment where all faculty, staff, and trainees feel not just safe, but valued. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any general concerns you have within the CNUP community (specific instances of discrimination should be reported to Co-Directors or through the Pitt Concern Connection) or suggestions on how we can better support minoritized individuals in the CNUP. We are here to support and uplift the voices of our colleagues.


The CNUP Diversity and Inclusion Committee