The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction is pleased to announce the 2014 John Money Fellowship for Scholars of Sexology has been jointly awarded to Jessica Hille of Indiana University, and Liam Oliver Lair of University of Kansas. Rutgers University student Julian Gil-Peterson and Indiana University student Bogdan Popa were awarded Honorable Mentions.
Jessica Hille is a doctoral student in the Department of Gender Studies at Indiana University. Her research focuses on asexuality as an identity category and an opportunity to interrogate concepts of sexuality, intimacy, and pleasure.
Sexual behavior and sexual orientation are often thought to be central to personal identity, development, and interpersonal relationships. Popular narratives around “coming out” and being “born this way” underscore modern understandings of sexual orientations: that everyone necessarily develops sexual attraction(s), and that this attraction is part of an inherent sexuality.
The rise of online communities like the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), however, has allowed people to discover and adopt asexuality as a distinct identity. Current estimates based on survey data suggest that approximately 1% of the population is asexual. Often described as a people who do not experience sexual attraction, asexuals complicate not only conceptions of sexual orientation but of human sexuality more broadly. Jessica’s dissertation work will question the notion of human beings as inherently sexual and examine intimacy and pleasure apart from sexual attractions.
The 2014 John Money Fellowship for Scholars of Sexology will allow Jessica to investigate the “X” designation in the Kinsey report given to people who did not fit on the 0 to 6 scale used by Dr. Kinsey and colleagues. These individuals did not report specific sexual behavior and have been referred to as asexuals in recent discussions of asexuality. Jessica’s project will code and analyze the X reports to determine who was designated as X, how they relate to current asexual identities and identifications, and what, if any, other demographic characteristics are common among the “Kinsey Xs.”
Project Update: Read Jessica Hille's Asexuality Resources and Bibilography
Liam Oliver Lair is a PhD student in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas.
His dissertation, Disciplining Diagnoses: A Genealogy of Trans* Subject Positions and Cisnormativity, interrogates the racial and sexual investments in cisnormative standards of gender in the U.S. While sexologists initially focused on identifying and classifying “sexual mental diseases,” they eventually began to distinguish gender disorders from sexual disorders. Harry Benjamin’s The Transsexual Phenomenon (1966) marked this shift, bringing theoretical and medical diagnoses to bear on those deemed “deviant” in regard to gender. Sexologists attempted, during the 1950s and 1960s, to draw clear distinctions between transvestite (TV) and transsexual (TS) diagnoses. The discursive formation of these terms occurred in relation to mostly white, middle-class, transfeminine individuals. These developments led to a particular manifestation of cisnormative standards of gender that are still in effect.
While the categories of TV/TS will always fail to describe the complexity of cross-gendered identification, Liam's project explores the specificity and particularity of this failure. He argues that this failure is not solely a result of the limited nature of categories; it is also a result of the discursive investments present in the creation of the diagnoses, present in medical fields from which they emerged, and present in and for the individuals that take up these terms as identities. In particular, he argues that the desire to codify white, cissexual bodies as the norm affected not only trans* people in the mid-20th century, but also how we access and understand trans* identity to this day.
Project Update: Bibliography by Liam Oliver Lair:Telling Our Stories: A Selection of Transvestite & Transsexual Autobiographies (1947-1969)
Julian Gill-Peterson is a doctoral candidate in American Studies at Rutgers University. His dissertation, “Queer Theory is Kid Stuff,” pursues a genealogy of the emergence of self-identified gay and transgender children in the United States. Assembling an archive of law, social scientific data, medicine, psychiatry, and new media, Gill-Peterson takes up the recognition of gay children as protectable, vulnerable bodies through the lens of bullying and cyberbullying. Through these intertwined genealogies and interdisciplinary archives “Queer Theory is Kid Stuff” gives an account of the emergence of gay and transgender children in contemporary American culture by departing from the consensus of queer theory to think the child now, in its material present, rather than as a memory from the childhood of gay and transgender adults.
Bogdan Popa holds a PhD in Political Science from Indiana Univeristy, Bloomington. His dissertation historicizes a contemporary divide between liberal feminism and queer feminism in nineteenth century England and the United States with a focus on shame and political activism. His next project will analyze current social movements in Romania by drawing on a flourishing literature about emotions in queer studies. He was visiting scholar at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan. He published "Critical Psychology without Social Theory in the US? Nancy Chodorow, Feminism and Relational Psychoanalysis," in Annual Review of Critical Psychology, No.10, 2013, 964-985.
For more information about the John Money Scholarship for Students of Sexology, please visit our webpage here.
Sexuality and intimate relationships are essential to our individual and collective well-being. Your support will help the Kinsey Institute advance research and education in the science of love, sexuality, gender, and sexual health, and give our diverse field of researchers the resources they need to make new discoveries.Pledge your support