Skeptics on the Fringe

Skeptics on the Fringe are a non-profit branch of the Edinburgh Skeptics who are celebrating five years at the Fringe with a catalogue of guest speakers, aimed at the seasoned free thinker, part-time rationalist and entrenched fundamentalist. The group boasts of their inclusive approach online and deliver on the night, friendly stewards beckoning in a talkative bunch for a lighthearted look at the gender binary. The evenings speaker was Nathan Gale.

Aided by a Powerpoint presentation and bottle of Desperados, the argument flowed from simple definitions to a stark breakdown of why the gender binary should be dismantled.

As described on Twitter, Gale is a Trans* queer non-binary disabled activist and occasional artist. Employed by The Scottish Transgender Alliance and having worked on the Scottish Gay Marriage Bill, Gale was a competent and engaging speaker. The talk began by neglecting to assume any knowledge and offered a simple definition of the gender binary. In short, the binary is observed if the sex of a person (sex deriving from an assessment of physical attributes at birth) is taken to determine the kind of characteristics, either female or male, that they will exhibit. One of the aims of the evening was to detach the idea of sex from that of gender, gender being the image a person wishes to project or protest. With a humorous, encompassing demeanour, such ambitions were achieved quite superbly.

Aided by a Powerpoint presentation and bottle of Desperados, the argument flowed from simple definitions to a stark breakdown of why the gender binary should be dismantled. If there was one argument Nathan missed in a list centred on equality but encompassing everyday practicalities and heightened levels of esteem, it was the evening itself. Without the growing prevalence of similar strands of liberal intellectualism, evenings like this would remain in the dusty annals of first wave feminism and far away from the open door policy of The Banshee Labyrinth. As much as progressive ideas can be shared and spread online, seeing a committed, life long advocate of a contentious cause not only forces the issue, but offers it a human face. This evening Nathan was that face, but over the coming weeks guests will include Post-Doc-bullshit-detector Claudia Schnaffer, experimental psychologist Richard Wiseman and knitting mathematician Julia Collins. With free admission and plenty of seating space, it is an absolute must. 

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Have a slice of reason with your cup of Fringe - Edinburgh Skeptics brings its free, award-winning, four-star, alternative to comedy back to the Fringe, with a different talk every night on science, reason and critical thinking. This year's topics include bumblebees, serial killers and the end of days. Come early to avoid disappointment, we have to turn people away most nights. ‘Promises to be a fascinating series’ **** (ThreeWeeks).

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