Continuing their series of reporting on the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity in science careers, Science News for Students has a new article focusing on trans folks in science. The piece profiles a couple of transgender researchers in depth, including biophysicist Izzy Jayasinghe, who emphasizes the need to “find your people” — a community that can provide moral and logistical support:
While at Leeds, Jayasinghe finally found a transgender community with which to connect. She had been watching YouTube videos made by a transgender biologist and filmmaker named Amanda Prosser. Jayasinghe emailed Prosser, who lived nearby, and asked if she wanted to chat. Prosser introduced Jayasinghe to her friends. Among those friends were other transgender people. Jayasinghe realized that she didn’t need to separate her gender identity from her public life.
She decided to transition. Jayasinghe sent a letter to her parents and emailed her friends and colleagues. She gave them her new name, Izzy, and the pronouns to use. She told people at her university that starting on a certain date, “I will be coming back to work as myself.” She also said that she was open to answering questions about being transgender.
A few people acted awkward around her. But most of them, she says, told her, “We want to support you.”
The piece also quotes Queer in STEM team member Daniel Cruz-Ramírez De Arellano, coauthor on the project’s latest publication, which identifies how much workplace policy and climate can matter:
Two transgender scientists who participated in the study were attending graduate school in the same state. One school was very friendly toward trans researchers. Professors had been asked to use trans people’s correct names and pronouns. The university supported medical needs for transitions. The trans scientist at that school was enjoying their experience.
But the other school didn’t have such processes in place. The trans researcher there “was having the toughest time,” Cruz-Ramírez de Arellano says. They felt demeaned by colleagues. The situation was so bad that the scientist wanted to quit.
For more from Cruz-Ramírez De Arellano, and more profiles of trans and nonbinary researchers, check out the full article.