The Transgender Scientists That Changed the Wo…


As this week is Transgender Week of Awareness (12th – 19th November) I felt it was a good time to bring awareness to some of the more well-known transgender scientists that changed science. Trans people have always been apart of scientific discovery but like most minorities within STEM have struggled to gain recognition for their contributions.  


Alan Hart (1890–1962) | 



A Yale-trained epidemiologist, radiologist and physician, Hart one of the first trans men in the US to undergo a hysterectomy and live openly as a man, taking testosterone treatments when they became available after World War II. Hart also become a prominent figure in the fight against tuberculosis, which at the time was the leading cause of death in Europe and the US. He graduated with a medical degree in 1912 and later in 1928 received a master’s degree in radiology. He eventually became an expert on tubercular radiology and published several articles on X-ray medicine and its use in the detection of tuberculosis and went on to gain another master’s degree in public health in 1948. 

Hart then served as the director of hospitalization and rehabilitation at the Connecticut State Tuberculosis Commission and continued to dedicate his professional life to tuberculosis research. 

Ben Barres (1954 – 2017) | Neuroscience 


Barres was the first openly transgender scientist in the National Academy of Sciences in 2013 and talked openly about his experience of sexism pre-transition and advocated for better gender equality within science. Barres research focused on the interaction between neurons and glial cells in the nervous system. Barres showed that the gila, which at the time were often dismissed by neurologists as simple the support structure for the brain, had important functions in helping neurons to mature and producing connections between memory and learning functions. This discovery revolutionised neruobiologists understanding of the brain. 

Barres also went on to mentor many young scientists and repeatedly spoke about the systemic barriers and biases that kept marginalised groups such as women, poc and LGBT people, from succeeding or furthering their careers and research within science. 

Sophie Wilson |  Computer Science


Sophie Wilson is a British computer scientist who is known for designing the Acorn Micro-Computer, the first computer sold by Acorn Computers. She also designed the instruction set of ARM processor

which is used in 21st-century smartphones

and is considered one of the most important woman in tech history.  

Lynn Ann Conway | Computer Science

A pioneer of a number of technological advancements and inventions, Conway is an American computer scientist, electrical engineer and inventor. She first worked at IMB in the 1960′s designing a super computer and is credited with the invention of generalised dynamic instruction handling, now used by modern computer processors in order to improve performance. She was fired after she revealed her intention to transition and was denied access to her children. 

After she transitioned she restarted her career and authored the Mead & Conway revolution in VLSI design, that was considered groundbreaking work that quickly become a standard textbook in chip design. 

Joan Roughgarden | Biology 


known for her critical studies on Charles Darwin’s theory of sexual selection and LGBT biology, Roughgarden is an American ecologist and evolutionary biologist, having published over 180 scientific articles and books. Roughgarden has carried out ecological studies on barnacles, Caribbean lizards but is most known for her published book critiquing Darwin’s sexual selection theory based on the fact it fails to answer and consider animals which do not follow traditional sex roles of intrasexual and intersexual selection. She was met with bitter and 

vitrioli criticism from other scientists for publishing such views, to which she was not surprised. 

Roughgarden went on to publish a second book further pointing out over 26 phenomena which the current sexual-selection theory does not explain, and instead suggests the social-selection theory. She continues to make analytical studies that social selection is a more credible explanation.

Honorable mentions to these transgender scientists: 

And to all the unseen and unnamed transgender scientists. 

Shout-out to all my trans and gnc peeps out there! Y’all are in good company ❤️

November 18, 2018