flexibeast.space - gemlog - 2020-10-03

Does being queer and/or TGD contraindicate STEM?

[ Originally posted in a private space, May 2020. ]

The queer and TGD (Trans and Gender Diverse) communities quite rightly seek more representations of ourselves in the media. Feeling alone and isolated because you feel ‘unseen’ is usually not good for mental health.

Something i've noticed, however, is the strong linkage that the queer and TGD communities make between being queer and/or TGD and being very ‘arty’. (i deliberately don't write ‘creative’ here, for reasons i'll go into in another post[a]; the summary is that i find the social constructions of the concepts of ‘creativity’ and ‘creatives’ to be problematic.) i feel there are historical reasons for this, but over the years, i've found it to be quite marginalising.

One of my core passions is mathematics. How often are we presented with representations of queer and/or TGD people whose passions aren't the arts, but mathematics?

Research has shown that women and girls have to navigate a social tension between being interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and being ‘feminine’, because STEM fields are coded ‘masculine’. i feel there's a similar tension that's been created between being interested in STEM and being queer and/or TGD. i often feel i'm not ‘arty’ enough for the queer and/or TGD communities, and that these communities tend to code STEM as ‘straight’.

My own experiences of the fields of mathematics in which i'm interested is that there are a number of queer and/or TGD people involved - certainly at the research level. One example is Emily Riehl, a queer mathematician working in the field of category theory (who, despite being US-born and -bred, also likes playing Aussie Rules!).

i'd really like more recognition of the existence of STEM-oriented queer and/or TGD people.

🏷 maths,politics,queer,science,tgd


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[a] At the time of posting, i hadn't yet written this. :-( i'd still like to do so eventually ....