Visiting Scholars Delve into Transgender Health Policy and Intersex Representation

Demetrios Psihopaidas, PhD Candidate inSociology at the University of Southern California, conducted research at the Kinsey Institute library for his dissertation project that examines the emergence of transgender persons as a major topic in health policy agendas. His thesis is titledUnsettled Lives: how transgender became a global public health priority.

Psihopaidas came to the Kinsey library because, he said, it "offers a wealth of archival material to rebuild this history." He added that "the Institute staff have been incredibly gracious and supportive hosts during my stay. Every morning when I arrive at the institute, I find the sources I was last studying waiting for me at my usual place in the reading room. The staff has also gone out of their way to connect me with scholars doing related work at the university and other potential informants for my research. It has been a truly wonderful experience."

In response to why he chose the case of transgender for his dissertation project, Psihopaidas said:

"Beyond my own personal and intellectual interests, I believe this is an important story that needs to be told. So much of the recent media attention has been directed at transgender victimization: suicide rates, hate crimes, sexually transmitted infection rates, etc. These are very serious issues that warrant our attention and demand immediate action.”

“But transgender and gender nonconforming persons are not just victims. They - and a handful of devoted allies - are, and have been incredibly brave, well organized, passionate, and savvy pioneers and advocates. They have faced insurmountable odds to both gain societal acceptance and respectful and appropriate care from medical institutions.”

“This history also warrants our attention. My project tells just one of those stories."

For more on this topic, read Demetrios’s blog post on Kinsey Confidential - How Transgender Persons Became A Global Public Policy Priority.

Magdalena Cabaj
Magdalena Cabaj, visiting from Paris and Warsaw

Our library reading room is also a temporary home to Magdalena Cabaj, a visiting scholar from École Normale Supérieure - Paris, and the University of Warsaw, where she studies literature and philosophy. Her visit is being sponsored by the Department of Gender Studies at IU.

During her stay at Indiana University, Magdalena is using the Kinsey Institute archives to explore intersexuality through the lens of feminist theory. Her Ph.D. thesis examines "hermaphrodite" writing (écriture hermaphrodite). Magdalena explains:

"I focus on the efforts to transcend the lack of language suitable to express intersexual phenomena, both in literature and scientific texts."

Cabaj is accessing the archives of the Intersex Society of North America, which she describes as "very unique, and full of unpublished documents and papers carefully collected by ISNA members."

She is also consulting the John Money collection at the Kinsey library. Her next exploration will be the Kinsey art and photography collection for visual representations of intersexuality. 

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