Biology Professor Wants More Transgender Scientists

In modern America, Pride penetrates all. The new national mission is inclusion, and all sectors should be a part of it.

At Arizona State University, Professor Katelynn Cooper is doing her part. She was concerned by the lack of LGBT participation in research into biology and therefore, she started the lab of her choice.

Source: NBC News:

When Katelyn Cooper was 34, an undergraduate student in Biochemistry in Arizona State University, she was hesitant to declare herself as gay. It was because labs and science classes are traditionally thought of as neutral spaces in which “who you are doesn't matter.”

However, she was determined to make a difference to others, and this could be achieved by identifying sexual desires of her instructors:

“It felt pretty lonely as an undergrad,” Cooper said to NBC News. “I remember admiring so many of my instructors in science and looking for any sign that anyone else maybe didn't identify as straight or cisgender, because I just wanted some example of someone who had made it in science as an LGBTQ+ person.”

Katelyn completed her doctorate in biology. She's an assistant professor at ASU's department of life science. She's taking steps to add on the “L,” “G” and “B” in biology; and now she's adding “T” and “Q”:

Cooper is conducting national-funded research to develop more welcoming education environments that are more welcoming to biology college students. Its Cooper Biology Education Research Lab that she established in 2019 is focused on studying how students' identities and their mental health impact their experience with biology education.

“Science has been white and straight for too long.”

It's not just about trying to create classrooms that are more inclusive according to her; she wanted to bring more diversity into a field that was traditionally dominated by straight white men.

According to Katelyn, the objective nature of science could be improved by the subjective nature of it:

“If individuals can bring their own perspectives to the table, then we're doing a better job at overcoming biases which is resulting in more solid science. This is what drove me to pursue this research line investigating ways to make more welcoming environments for LGBTQ and other people.”

The sciences are experiencing an influx of LGBT-infused changes in the last few days. 

“University Changes the Name of Its Women's Clinic, claiming that “Women” was medically inaccurate”

“Breastfeeding Academy slams ‘Breasts'”

“NYU Nursing School Launches Course on how to care for LGBT Folx”

“Hospitals Are Beginning to ask men if they're pregnant”

Social justice in general is getting a scientific salute:

“Major University Professor Fighting Math's ‘Harbor for whiteness'”

“Academics Defend the Whiteness of Physics in the Introductory Course'”

“Science Journal Decries Racism in Geology and claims Black People Are Too Scared to hold hammers”

“The Science is Clearly Set: Whiteboards Are Racist, at the Very Least in Physics”

In the end, does it matter whether biologists are lesbians? If my knowledge of science is accurate it may not matter.

However, America seems ever more wary to risk such a gamble.

The coverage by NBC of Katelyn is part of a bigger effort during June's inclusion. The news outlet began the piece by saying:

In celebration of Pride Month, NBC Out will be highlighting and celebrating the new generation of LGBTQ pioneers, creators, and newsmakers. Check out our complete list of #Pride30 here.

Other top leaders on the list:

  • The First Gay Man on the Playboy's Cover
  • First Transgender NCAA Champion
  • The Illustrator for Queer Latinx Life
  • Two-spirit Indigenous Dancer
  • Indigenous Academic and Legal Advocate
  • Multi-Hypenate Entertainer
  • Florida ‘Don't Say Gay' Activist
  • Trans Athlete Suing Tennessee

It's an inclusive planet in fact.

She and her fellow scientists are the ones who have “produced several major studies investigating the challenges of being an LGBTQ student or educator in a biology classroom.” Now, they're working on “recommendations for how educators can make their biology classrooms more inclusive.”

It's only a matter of time until the suggestions are #included.

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