Dear Neuroscience: Stop Trying to “Fix” Diversity

I announced recently that I had been trying to publish an op-ed and that I would post it here if no newspaper would have it. No newspaper would have it, so here you go (and please imagine it were still the end of December, when this was all more recent and it still seemed a fitting time for new year’s resolutions):

As the year in which President Trump reinstated the ban on trans* persons from military service is coming to a close, many of us are hoping for a less transphobic new year. But the current year of sickening transphobia isn’t quite over yet. “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling just made headlines by expressing support for Maya Forstater, an openly transphobic researcher who claimed that sex was unchangeable and had nothing to do with identity. Anthony Ramos from the LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization GLAAD referred to Forstater’s view as “an anti-science ideology.”

The disturbing truth is that some scientists hold similar views as Forstater. A recent publication in eNeuro, an open-access journal published by the Society for Neuroscience, proves this point. Author Stephen Gliske, a nuclear physicist by training, proposed a novel theory regarding the neurobiological underpinnings of gender dysphoria (the distress that some trans* individuals experience because of the incongruency between their bodies and gender identities). Much of the argument relies on data from previously published rodent studies.

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Happy New Brain Year!

My dearest Benjamin Franklin and I (see picture below) spent the last days racking our brains about a reading list. We needed to come up with something useful for an independent study in the upcoming Spring semester. The class on the history and culture of the mind and brain sciences in the 20th and 21st centuries will formally be taught by John Tresch,1 but I came up with the first draft of the syllabus and I don’t want to withhold it from you. You can download the pdf here. It will serve as a foundation for brain/mind science history reading list in preparation for my Orals Examination in May 2016. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any suggestions to complete and improve it! Continue reading

  1. He’s also the one who came up with the title “Life of Brain” in commemoration of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian.” []