Saturday, September 02, 2006

What's Up with Stanford and Transgender People?

Two transgendered academics have come to my attention recently. Both tenured in science at Stanford University. The first is Joan Roughgarden. Her book, Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People, is one of the texts for Women's Studies 698, Queers & Theory this semester. Roughgarden transitioned from male to female in the late 1990s. The Stanford News Service wrote about her new book here but the profile in the Stanford Alumni magazine is more interesting. In addition to Evolution's Rainbow, which apparently is written to question (or queer?) Darwin's theory of sexual selection, Roughgarden's newest book, Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist. There is something delightfully queer about an eminent evolutionary biologist, who is also transgendered writing a reconciliation of evolution and Christianity. I'm interested in how her transgenderism is performed both in this text and in it's propagation.

The other academic is Ben Barres, also a professor at Stanford University. Barres has recently been responding to Larry Summers comments about women in science in an interview in The New York Times and in the Stanford University magazine. This summer Barre wrote in Nature magazine an article, Does Gender Matter? I've read less about Ben Barres to date, but will take up the Nature piece in the next few days.

I'm interested in these two people for a variety of reasons. First, from a queer perspective in the increasing ability of transgender people who have transitioned to maintain their professional positions - and in these cases not only maintain their professional careers, but to continue to expand and grow their professional lives. (Though I was discussing these two academics yesterday with a colleague who is a physicist outside of the academy and he immediately noted that both transitioned after their had received tenure.) This is a watershed event in the history of gender and for transgender people.

I'm also interested though in the issues of women, and gender, in science. Both for the individual scientists and for scientific theories of gender difference. I'm noodling around the implications of transgenderism amid my own assumptions and theories of both.


Katie King said...

Hi Julie!

If I understand backlinks correctly (was just reading the documentation) then a more reliable link to your post here than the pasted in url in the Queers and Theory comments section (which truncated out) would be to make a link from this post here in yr blog to that post there in our class blog.

Then it should appear in the backlinks list.

Want to try it?

Edit this post so that the Queers and Theory syllabus post is linked.

Then we'll see if that appeears properly in the backlinks list.

Thanks for making these connections! This is exactly the kind of interactive blogging I'm hoping for the class!


Julie R. Enszer said...

Hi, Katie,

I believe that I have done it. I've enabled backlinks on my blog and it seems like it is now linking the two blogs. Very cool, this backlinking. I haven't done it before.

Quite Wickedary!