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The science of LGBTQ+ identities: tensions and misconceptions

Venue: Online

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  • Attendees will be sent a link to join the session 24-hours before the event
  • Please note: this event will be recorded

Scientists have been trying to understand and classify variance in human sexual orientation and gender identity since the 19th century. More than a century later, we are still far from a clear understanding of these issues. Some might even say that given the rapid societal changes of the last few decades, non-heterosexual identities are more difficult to understand than ever.

In this talk, we will ask: Is the attempt to classify sexual orientations and gender identities into neat ever likely to succeed? Do we simply need better tools, or was the enterprise doomed to fail to begin with?

We will try to understand some of the three-way tensions surrounding LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) identities between society, science, and LGBTQ+ individuals. We will review some attempts to “objectively” categorize and quantify sexual orientation and gender identity and touch on the conceptual difficulties that hinder such attempts. Finally, we will touch on the ethical issues arising when trying to define and study gender identities and sexual orientations.

Contact name:

  • Dr Alon Zivony -

    Dr. Alon Zivony completed his PhD in cognitive psychology at Tel-Aviv University. He is currently a Marie-Sk�odowska Curie postdoctoral fellow, conducting cognitive electrophysiological research in Birkbeck College. He conducted several studies regarding LGBTQ+ stereotypes and has developed and taught a course about the psychological research into of gender identities and sexual orientation. He has 15 years of experience as an LGBTQ+ advocate and has given hundreds of workshops to students and teachers.