Trans Prof Runs From Debate With Michael Knowles Days Before Event
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 19: Michael Knowles is seen on set of "Candace" on April 19, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. This episode will air Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Jason Davis/Getty Images

Deirdre McCloskey, a trans-identifying professor, no longer wants to debate Daily Wire host Michael Knowles, dropping out of an event that was scheduled for next Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh.

Knowles was set to appear with the University of Illinois Chicago professor at Pitt to debate “transgenderism and womanhood.” McCloskey, a man who identifies as a woman, said he did not want to give Knowles a platform to share his beliefs because he is “utterly uninterested in finding the truth” and only “interested in stirring up hatred and violence towards people who do not fit his extremely conservative Catholic beliefs,” according to two sources.

The planned event drew criticism last month after transgender activists pushed for Pitt to cancel Knowles’ appearance on campus and then threatened to shut down the event themselves. The university released a statement on Knowles, calling his appearance “toxic and hurtful for many people,” but Pitt doubled down on allowing student organizations to host speakers of their choosing.

Knowles responded to McCloskey’s decision to pull out of the debate, pointing to a tweet from the professor last month where he called Knowles a “fascist” and an “anti-Jesus Catholic,” but reiterated his willingness to debate the conservative commentator.

“A thousand people have signed a petition against Michael Knowles ‘debating’ me on transgender matters on April 18 at Pittsburgh. They should be ashamed,” McCloskey wrote on March 11. “True, Knowles is an anti-Jesus Catholic, a fascist advocating state power over ideas. But we live in a free country.”

As recently as March 30, McCloskey said he was confident about debating Knowles. “I don’t have to prepare for this debate,” he told The Pitt News, a student-run newspaper. “My life is a preparation for it.”

Knowles revealed on Tuesday, however, that the professor backed out.

“I’ve just learned that Prof. McCloskey has dropped out of our debate scheduled for next week,” Knowles responded. “For weeks, he’s baselessly smeared me as a ‘fascist’ but nonetheless insisted upon the importance of debating ideas rather than running from them. Apparently he’s changed his mind.”


Knowles suspected that McClosky learned it would be tough to win a debate against someone who brings arguments based on truth and love after discovering that Knowles isn’t the hateful bigot the media often portrays him to be.

“Perhaps he has learned that I’m not the loose cannon that the liberal media have dishonestly portrayed,” Knowles added. “Perhaps he’s learned that my opposition to transgenderism derives, not from hatred, but from love of the truth, in this case regarding epistemology and anthropology. Despite reiterating his willingness to debate, Professor McCloskey seems to have understood that his arguments would not have survived scrutiny, so he chose to concede rather than lose in front of CSPAN’s cameras.”

The Daily Wire host was disappointed with the outcome, but said he would take McCloskey’s drop-out as a victory, arguing that the professor’s decision reveals the deeper truth about the indefensibility of transgenderism.

“I’m happy to take a victory by default,” Knowles said. “But it’s telling that even a distinguished scholar with three Harvard degrees and half a dozen honorary doctorates cannot defend transgenderism. Of course: the ideology is indefensible.”

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