Dr Holly Lawford-Smith is an Associate Professor in Political Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. She lectures on everyday morality, the ethics of immigration, feminism, the metaphysics of ethics, and free speech & hate speech. Her current research is on feminist theory and movement. Her second book, Gender-Critical Feminism, was published by Oxford University Press in May.

The dictionary definition of ‘woman’, the claim that it’s impossible for a human to change sex, and the claim that only women menstruate, get pregnant, breastfeed, or go through menopause, have all been accused by apparent progressives of being hateful. The outputs of minority (or oppressed majority) groups’ collective self-determination has been accused of being exclusionary, and in some cases of putting those groups at risk of violating equalities law. For example, feminists who want female-only survivor groups are accused of excluding males who identify as female; gay men who want gay-men-only events or dating apps are accused of wrongfully excluding females who identify as male and gay. Human Rights Commissioners have moved to prevent these ‘exclusions’; public and private bodies have moved to adjust sex-specific language to avoid being ‘hateful’. In this talk I will explore the justifications for these shifts, and explain what those who support them are overlooking.