Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

This content was last updated Oct. 4, 2023, 7:56 a.m. UTC

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is an American anti-transgender conservative think tank headquartered in New York City. It is best known for issuing policy statements and positions, often through its public policy magazine City Life

The group has frequently featured essays by anti-transgender activists, employs several notable activists who have made opposing trans rights their main focus, and filed amicus briefs in anti-transgender court cases.

The claim constantly conveyed to parents of gender-distressed teenagers that they can either have a dead daughter or a live trans son has no basis in evidence. It constitutes nothing short of emotional blackmail.

Leor Sapir, of the Manhattan Institute, 18 January 2023


The Manhattan Institute was founded in 1977 by Antony Fisher and William J. Casey as the International Center for Economic Policy Studies. In 1982, the group filed to change their name to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Founder William J. Casey would go on to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency between 1981 and 1987.


The Institute has been tax exempt since 1977. In recent years, they have reported yearly total revenues and expenses in the tens of millions, and compensated key officers for their work with salaries in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

In 1990, the Institute founded its public policy magazine City Journal. In the late 2010s, articles published in the magazine began to focus on anti-transgender stances. Contributors publishing anti-transgender ideas include John Ketcham, Leor Sapir, and Ilya Shapiro. The three have co-authored some articles together.

The Institute has also filed multiple amicus briefs in anti-transgender court cases. The briefs are filed by the Institute’s director of constitutional studies, Ilya Shapiro, and contain testimony by Leor Sapir in his capacity as a researcher.

One brief was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs in Foote v. Ludlow School Committee, a case in which parents of students at Ludlow alleged that the school had violated their rights by affirming their children’s transgender identity without notifying them first. The case has since been dismissed, but may be appealed. A similar brief was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs in Littlejohn v. School Board of Leon County, a similar case in Florida which was also dismissed

Sapir’s primary argument in both briefs is that the majority of transgender youth “desist,” or stop identifying as transgender, before reaching adulthood. This is not supported by the evidence, for instance a study for Princeton University showed that only 2.5% of a sample of 300 cases had desisted in a five year timespan.

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