Events Calendar

Integrative Biology Seminar - Mia Miyagi

Gender, Sex and Trans-Inclusive Language in Biology

Mia Miyagi is a member of the GenderSci Lab at Harvard, where she studies how tools from population genetics are used to create and support claims of genomic differences between sexes. She is particularly interested in how gendered social factors can manufacture signals of biological sex differences as well as in how rhetoric about sex from scientific studies filters into the political discourse on transgender rights.
What do we mean when we say sex is non-binary? How do the multitude of sex-related variables (such as hormone levels, anatomy, etcetera) sometimes defy societal expectations? In this talk, Mia will use examples from the natural world to argue that sex is not only context-dependent but assigned, and that the same societal tendency to impose binary sex on nature also manifests in the highly politicized realm of transgender rights, with much greater consequences. In addition, she will describe how gender, often imagined as a purely social variable, can in fact have measurable physical effects on the body. Finally, I will describe sex contextualism (Richardson 2022), an alternate framework for conceptualizing sex, and emphasize that while we should not look to the natural world to “justify” the existence of transgender and gender-diverse people, we can use it as a playscape for imagining different ways of dividing the world into “sexes."

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Monday, November 28 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Virtual Event