Julia Monk is a Ph.D. candidate in Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Monk’s interdisciplinary collaboration with natural scientists, social scientists, and humanities scholars seeks to understand the technical and operational definitions of “sex” employed in biological research, and to critique these often-imprecise definitions and metrics of “biological sex.” Because the biological sciences are often invoked in discussions of human sex, gender, and sexuality, and definitions of “biological sex” are more specifically wielded to justify trans-exclusionary policies, it is imperative that biologists are clear in their language and meaning. Her hope is that her Seed Grant research, “Sex in the Literature: a Meta-Analysis and Critique of Technical and Operational Definitions of Sex in Biological Research,” will stimulate biologists to more carefully consider their definitions of biological sex, discuss sex as a non-binary and continuously varying set of traits, and reflect on the utility of traditional constructions of sex in research that aims to understand the awesome variation found among living organisms.
To learn more about Monk’s research, please view her poster. This work was conducted in collaboration with U.C. Berkeley Social Science Matrix’s Queer Ecologies Working Group. A public panel discussion at UC Berkeley, “Queering Science: Rethinking Biology, Sex, and the Environment,” was co-organized by Monk and focused on the implications of Monk’s research in the life sciences.