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Deirdre McCloskey and transgender people

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey is an American economist and philosopher. McCloskey is also transgender and made a gender transition in 1995 in the midst of a distinguished career, described in the 1999 autobiography Crossing: A Memoir.

In 2003, McCloskey helped lead efforts to combat the academic exploitation of sex and gender minorities following the publication of The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey.


McCloskey was born in 1942 in Ann Arbor, Michigan and studied Economics at Harvard University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in 1964 and a Ph.D in 1970. McCloskey has held appointments at University of Chicago, University of Iowa, and University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2015 McCloskey was named Distinguished Professor of Economics and of History, and Professor of English and of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago, Emerita.

Writings on gender after retirement

McCloskey hold a number of views that are considered conservative within the trans community. In 2019, McCloskey chose to share reflections on gender transition in Quillette, a notoriously anti-trans publication. The comment section is an excellent survey of transphobic talking points from the time.

In 2020, McCloskey signed the so-called Harper’s letter with many prominent gender critical voices, including Meghan Daum, Caitlin Flanagan, Michelle Goldberg, Sarah Haider, Jonathan Haidt, Katie Herzog, Phoebe Maltz Bovy, Steven Pinker, Katha Pollitt, Kat Rosenfield, J. K. Rowling, Jesse Singal, Bari Weiss, Matthew Yglesias, and Cathy Young. Others who signed it who have occasionally raised eyebrows for comments about trans people include Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Finney Boylan, and Gloria Steinem.

In 2021, McCloskey was announced as affiliated with the proposed “anti-woke” University of Austin, along with Bari Weiss, Steven Pinker, Kathleen Stock, Jonathan Haidt, and other gender critical figures. In 2023, McCloskey and Stock had a “debate” about gender in which they largely agreed with each other.


McCloskey D (1999). Crossing: A Memoir. University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226556680

McCloskey D (2003). Queer Science: A data-bending psychologist confirms what he already knew about gays and transsexuals. Reason.

McCloskey D (2007). McCloskey’s Back-and-Forth with Seth Roberts on the Bailey Controversy.

McCloskey D (November 10, 2019). Reflections on My Decision to Change Gender. Quillette

McCloskey D (August 13, 2020) I’m a transwoman who signed the Harper’s letter with JK Rowling. Here’s why. Prospect Magazine


Deirdre McCloskey (

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