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In response to racist police practices and ongoing police violence against Black folks in the United States, a group of physicists have come together to petition the American Physical Society (APS) to release a statement in support of Black lives and to acknowledge the impact on Black physicists by these issues. You can read and sign the petition here:
Letter to APS: http://bit.ly/2dgr3WL
As APS members, we recognize that racist police practices ranging from profiling to violence represent psychological and physical harm to physicists from communities of color, and particularly Black physicists. Furthermore, we recognize that such practices could very well impact Black physicists, for example, when traveling to an APS meeting. Given the particular context of numerous recent high-profile police killings of Black people, we consider with fear the possibility that this violence may impact our Black students, colleagues, or supervisors.
With these concerns in mind, we call on all physicists to co-sign our letter to APS requesting immediate engagement with the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement. People who are APS members are especially encouraged to sign, though signatures from allies who are not members of APS are also welcome.
We further wish to acknowledge that this letter was written by a group of white queer and/or genderqueer physicists, most of whom are women, in solidarity with Black physicists and others who experience racial oppression in the physics community. We ask that you read and sign the petition today.
Nicole Ackerman (Assistant Professor, Agnes Scott College)
Dimitri Dounas-Frazer (Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Colorado Boulder)
Michael L. Falk (Professor, Johns Hopkins University)
Savannah Garmon (Assistant Professor, Osaka Prefecture University)
Renée Hložek (Assistant Professor, Dunlap Institute and Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto)
Elena Long (Post Doctoral Research Associate, University of New Hampshire)
MacKenzie Warren (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Michigan State University)
Note: This statement is cross-posted at the following links
Note: This is an archival post of my recent article at Prettyqueer.
After graduating from the University of Texas in 2007, I entered one of the most complex periods of my life. Since childhood I had consistently felt more like a woman than a man, but growing up in a small town in rural North Carolina I had always been terrified to express this to anyone. By the time I entered college (still in North Carolina), I had some rough idea that maybe there was something I could do about the situation, but I told myself that obtaining my Ph.D. and getting a start on my career in physics should be my first priority.
However, deep inside what I really feared was that nobody would ever take me seriously as a trans woman in physics. I didn’t know any trans women in my own life— much less trans women successful in science— to whom I could look up as mentors. Not to mention that I had few reliable sources of information about my own situation in general terms; in fact, I wasn’t even familiar with phrases like “gender identity” or “trans woman” at the time I made that decision.
Luckily, by the time I received my Ph.D. in Texas I had done a lot to educate myself. I still wasn’t sure how transition would impact my career, but I came to a point where I couldn’t put off dealing with it any further. Hence I started coming out to friends and colleagues while working on the physical aspects of transition (e.g., hormone replacement therapy).
Somewhat to my own surprise, my experiences from this were mostly positive. Broadly speaking, I think physicists are a bit more open than we usually get credit for, and almost certainly the general societal progress that occurred on this issue in the ten years that I delayed my transition benefited my situation (although it wasn’t an easy decision).
However, not everything worked out quite so well. Discussing the issue with my family was more difficult. In February 2008, I was offered a one-year postdoctoral research position in Paris, which I accepted. Before I left for Paris, I journeyed home from my place in Texas to my parents’ house in North Carolina; real problems developed on this journey and during the short time I spent at home before departing for France.