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Helen Joyce shortlisted for prestigious international science prize

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For immediate release

Date: 25th October 2023

Author and Sex Matters director of advocacy Helen Joyce has been shortlisted for the prestigious John Maddox Prize for courageously advancing public discourse with sound science.

Run by Sense about Science, an independent charity that promotes public interest in sound science and evidence, in partnership with Nature magazine, the international prize recognises individuals who stand up for science and evidence, advancing public discussion around difficult topics despite challenges and hostility.

Helen, a journalist who previously held senior roles at The Economist, was shortlisted for “her courage in highlighting the need for further research and evidence to be brought into discourse and policy discussion related to gender identity, and raising the importance of acknowledging biological sex differences”. She was among six shortlisted for the prize, which was won by Nancy Olivieri, a haematologist at Toronto General Hospital.

Judges for the prize said:

“Helen Joyce has been shortlisted for her courage in raising the importance of considering biological sex differences in health and social research, and the need for medical interventions to be evidence-based and transparently researched.

“Against a background of polarised and at times hostile reaction she has advocated for all researchers to be able to share findings openly and safely, whilst raising awareness of the harms resulting from a lack of research and absence of evidence underpinning medical interventions.”

Helen’s book Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality was an Amazon top ten bestseller and a Times and Spectator book of the year. Earlier this year, journalists uncovered that Helen’s book was among several by gender-critical authors that had been removed from the shelves by staff at Calderdale Council libraries in Yorkshire.

The announcement comes after a string of interviews given by Helen in recent months on podcasts hosted by high-profile figures such as Richard Dawkins, Peter Boghossian and Jordan Peterson, and speeches at groundbreaking international conferences, including the keynote address in Killarney, Ireland for the inaugural conference in April of Genspect, an international interdisciplinary coalition seeking an evidence-based approach to gender-identity issues, and at the ICONS International Women’s Sport Summit in Denver in July.

Maya Forstater, executive director at Sex Matters, said:

“Sex Matters would like to congratulate Helen on this significant and well-deserved achievement.

“Helen is a brilliant communicator whose intellect, courage and compassion are unparalleled, and we are so proud to have her on the team.

“Many in the UK may not be aware of the extent to which Helen is making a mark internationally, but we hope that this will be the first of many accolades for her important work on sex and gender.”

Notes for editors

Link to Maddox Prize 2023:

About Sex Matters

Sex Matters is a human-rights organisation co-founded in 2021 by Maya Forstater, who is its director, to campaign for sex-based rights. It lobbies for clarity on sex in law and institutions; publishes research, guidance and analysis; supports and mobilises people to speak up; and holds organisations accountable.

About Helen Joyce

Helen Joyce is a journalist and author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, an Amazon top-ten bestseller, and a Times and Spectator book of the year (recently reissued as Trans: Gender Identity and the New Battle for Women’s Rights). She was a staff journalist at The Economist between 2005 and 2022, holding several senior positions, including International editor, Finance editor and Britain editor. She is director of advocacy for Sex Matters. Her newsletter can be found at

About Maya Forstater

Maya Forstater is co-founder and executive director of Sex Matters. In 2019 she lost her job as a researcher with the European arm of American think-tank Center for Global Development, after tweeting and writing about sex and gender. She was the claimant in the landmark test case which established that the protected characteristic of belief in the Equality Act covers gender-critical beliefs. Her website is ​ and she tweets @MForstater.

Sex Matters is a human-rights organisation campaigning for clarity about sex in law, policy and language |