Skip to content

Leslie A. Howe vs. transgender people

Leslie A. Howe is a Canadian philosopher and anti-transgender activist.


Howe was born in ~1958. Howe earned a bachelor’s degree from McGill University, then a master’s degree from Dalhousie University. In 1990 Howe published a thesis on Søren Kierkegaard. Howe briefly taught at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Known as a tennis player, Howe moved to New York City to try a hand at acting. Howe also ran a Manhattan fitness facility and began training as a boxer at Gleason’s Gym. New York Times reporter Robert Lipsyte noted, “Howe tends to intellectualize her sport.” Howe said:

“Boxing feeds your ego, your sense of grandiosity. The danger is that the sport is unforgiving, a struggle filled with crooked interactions. One would hope that women would be able to use this to go beyond sports into managerial and executive positions.”

At age 36, Howe was too old to qualify for Golden Gloves and other high-profile boxing competitions. Howe fought Kathy “Wildcat” Collins on the undercard on April 28, 1995 at Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, New York. Howe again fought Collins in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi on July 1, 1996, resulting in a four-round draw. That draw was apparently the end of Howe’s boxing career.

Following the failures of both acting and boxing careers, Howe retreated back to academia in Canada, earning a doctorate from University of Toronto and settling in as a philosophy teacher at University of Saskatchewan. In 1999 Howe published study guides on Jürgen Habermas and Emma Goldman.

Howe soon began writing about sports philosophy and has become a prominent anti-transgender voice in that subspecialty. Howe’s teaching skills match the acting and boxing skills; while students have stated Howe is funny and refreshing for not allowing electronics, students also say Howe is fixated on precise citation format and a hard grader:

  • “avoid her as much as possible”
  • “extremely boring”
  • “did not help you or clarify anything you were asking about”
  • “Stone age professor that struggles with basic technology”
  • “gives very little feedback”
  • “her feedback is awful”
  • “I made a mistake by taking her course”

Anti-transgender activism

Howe is a sex segregationist whose primary concern is maintaining segregationism that keeps women and girls in inferior roles in society. Of particular interest is maintaining women’s subordinate place via sex-segregated competitive sport, primarily by attacking transgender athletes.

Jon Pike, Emma Hilton, and Howe outlined their “gender critical” views about sports in anti-trans publication Quillette in 2021.


Jon Pike, Emma Hilton, and Leslie A. Howe (December 11, 2021). Male and Female Athletic Performance: Worlds Apart. Quillette

“Altering the Narrative of Champions: Recognition, Excellence, Fairness, and Inclusion”. Sport, Ethics, and Philosophy, Special Issue: Women in Sport, 14, 4 (2020):496-510.

Lipsyte, Robert (April 21, 1995). BOXING; For These Women, a Heavy Right Is More Powerful Than Sisterhood. New York Times

“Feminism in the Philosophy of Sport”. In Mike McNamee and William J. Morgan (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Sport, 161-177.  Abingdon: Routledge, 2015.

“Being and Playing: Sport and the Valorization of Gender,” Philosophy and Everyday Life: The Quest for Meaning, edited by Laura Duhan Kaplan, 108-126. New York: Seven Bridges Press, 2001.

Cathy Devine, Emma Hilton, Leslie Howe, Miroslav Imbrišević, Tommy Lundberg, Jon Pike. “When Ideology Trumps Science: A response to the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport’s Review on Transwomen Athletes in the Female Category”. Idrottsforum. 29 November 2022.

Howe, Leslie A. (September 8, 2022). On Meaningfulness in Sport Competition.


YP2018_Lecture by Prof. Dr Leslie A. HOWE (CAN).mp4 -

A level playing field: Sex, gender and fairness in women’s sport -


Leslie A. Howe (

University of Saskatchewan (