Trans activists aim to shut down Cabot Phillips, Michael Knowles, and 'Save Women's Sports' events at Pitt

Three upcoming conservative events at the University of Pittsburgh are being challenged by petitioners seeking to ban them.

Campus Reform spoke with upcoming speaker and famous female swimmer Riley Gaines about the prospect of cancelation.

Three upcoming conservative events at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) are being challenged by petitioners seeking to ban them.

Under Pitt’s Turning Point USA (TPUSA) chapter, Cabot Phillips, former Campus Reform Editor in Chief and current member of The Daily Wire news team, will be speaking on Mar. 24 at an event called “Everything the Media Won’t Tell You.”

Just a few days later, Riley Gaines, a professional swimmer who travels the country speaking out against transgender athletes competing in women’s sports, will be making an appearance at the Pennsylvania school with the event “Save Women’s Sports.”

In April, the Pitt Republicans will host a debate on transgenderism and womanhood between Michael Knowles, another member of The Daily Wire team, and transgender professor Deirdre McCloskey.

McCloskey is self-described as a “literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive-Episcopalian, ex-marxoid, Midwestern woman from Boston who was once a man. Not ‘conservative’! I’m a Christian classical liberal.”

All three events have been made the subject of a petition to prevent them from happening on campus. The petition, as of Mar. 13, has garnered just over 7,000 signatures. 

The petition, titled “Hold the University Of Pittsburgh Accountable in Protecting LGBTQIA+ Individuals,” accuses all three speakers of being transphobic. 

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“Riley Gaines is a known transphobe who continually denies the existence of trans women and advocates for banning trans women from sports,” the petition reads in part.

It continues, “This type of language pushes the narrative that trans women are not women, invalidates their existence, and threatens their safety.”

After learning of the petition, Riley Gaines told Campus Reform, “Accusing me of denying the existence of trans individuals and advocating to ban trans-identifying individuals from sports is nefarious and 100% false.”

“I very much understand that trans-identifying individuals exist,” Gaines continued. “My problem is not with the trans individuals themselves, but rather the organization/guidelines that allowed us as female athletes to be subjected to unfair competition and the loss of the ability to consent in areas of undressing where both biological sexes are present.”

On top of the petition, many took to social media to express their disapproval of the event.

“This is not about women’s sports this is just a way to be transphobic without being blatant about it,” one commenter said on a TPUSA Instagram post

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Lili Orozco, president of Pitt’s TPUSA chapter, spoke to Campus Reform about the petition.

 “The petition is absolute nonsense,” Orozco charged. “We are not providing an unsafe environment for transgenders or the lgbtq community at Pitt. Overall, this is a very exciting time for us at [Turning Point] to bring on such inspiring individuals like Riley and Cabot. This event is going to be a success and our team is working very hard and looking forward to it!”

When asked about the possibility of the event getting canceled, Gaines expressed concern. 

“Banning the event is a concern of mine but not because it would mean that I wouldn’t be present and sharing my story experience for all to hear,” Gaines explained to Campus Reform. “My concern is much deeper than that. The people who are directly impacted are having their voices suppressed. Forcing the majority to abandon their rights in favor of the minority is immoral and the opposite of what it means to live in a democracy.”

The petition also calls out speakers Phillips and Knowles. 

“Additionally, the University of Pittsburgh chapter of Turning Point USA is hosting known transphobe Cabot Phillips on March 24th, 2023, in the Cathedral of Learning,” it reads. 

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Regarding Knowles, the petition cites his Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) speech as a reason he should not be allowed to speak on campus. 

“Just last week, Michael Knowles explicitly advocated for the ‘Eradication of transgenderism’ at the Conservative Political Action Conference. This language directly threatens violence against trans individuals,” reads the petition.

McCloskey, the transgender professor debating Knowles, called out the petitioners for wanting to cancel the event. 

“Canceling does not help the cause of trans people,” McCloskey told Campus Reform. “It lets our enemies, who are massing nowadays, claim that we are intolerant, undemocratic, and should be suppressed.”

McCloskey added, “I am doing the University a favor by coming from Washington DC to speak. If it is canceled, I can stay comfortably at home.  But I am expecting the named university executives to cave to the demands of a minority of students opposed to minorities.”

Campus Reform will continue to follow this story as events unfold.

Every individual and institution mentioned was reached out to for comment by Campus Reform. This article will be updated accordingly. 

Follow Logan Dubil on Twitter.