In April 2018, a New York Times article entitled “Sex, Sport and Why Track and Field’s New Rules on Intersex Athletes are Essential” was published, reporting on the IAAF’s new rules: only those with testosterone levels capable of being produced by ovaries can compete as women. The author’s argument sounds convincing: testosterone and testes make the difference in an athlete’s performance. Logically, this makes sense and seems to confer an unfair advantage to intersex or transgender female athletes. But in 2012, UPenn professors of medical ethics and health policy Lance Wahlert and Autumn Feister reported on a plethora of research: There is no scientific evidence that higher levels of testosterone are associated with better athletic performance, among other relevant studies. The author of the NYT article asserts that while “advocates for intersex athletes like to say that sex doesn’t divide neatly; this may be true in gender studies departments, but at least for competitive sports purposes, they are simply wrong.” However, the research does not support this claim.
Ever do a Google search on a topic having to do with sexuality or gender for research and find a journal article–that you can buy for $50? Or you locate a study that is exactly what you want to know–but is impossible to decipher? Few of us have bottomless resources. And we are not born with the ability to decode statistics or evaluate how or why research findings are reliable. Academic jargon can be confusing and annoying. Our web-platform initiative sexgenlab.org offers an antidote. We are here to translate and disseminate research and knowledge about sexuality and gender–for everyone.
The purpose of sexgenlab.org is to remedy these challenges. It is the cornerstone initiative of SexGenLab, a collaborative of researchers dedicated to opening the doors of the all-too-often secret club of academia. Founded by Dr. Deborah Tolman and a group of dedicated and talented graduate students, with a growing group of affiliated scholars and network of research labs from across the US and the globe, our tagline is “Critical knowledge for critical times.” When it comes to gender and sexuality, the times could not be more critical. Erasure of transgender people; persistent lack of knowledge about sexuality; worry about rape culture and sexual violence, as well as newfound concern about toxic masculinity; threats to and denial of sexual and reproductive rights–these are some of the most provocative, hot and noteworthy issues of our time. While information about rates of sexual behavior or numbers of LGBTQ+ people at risk is available, sexgenlab.org asks: What is missing? Research originates in questions; at sexgenlab.org, we ensure that innovative research–often the least likely to make its way into the public conversation–that stems from previously unasked or even taboo questions is available. sexgenlab.org is about more than getting the facts straight. We believe that infusing public dialogue with the exciting and positive new knowledge that is constantly being produced about gender and sexuality–leveraging new facts in a time of fake news–can help strengthen and amplify so many efforts that are already underway: in journalism and public policy, on Twitter and in blogs, from high school and undergraduate classrooms to professional trainings to activism and advocacy.
How does sexgenlab.org work?
sexgenlab.org is organized by five topic areas: Toxic Masculinity, Rape Culture, LGBTQ+ Lives and Issues, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice, and Positive Sexuality. Our Topic Overviews lay out definitions and break down myths with research. We will be sharing research through six different types of content each week:
– Research Blogs translating research studies published in psychology, sociology, public health and other social sciences
– Infographics with current data on gender and sexuality issues
– A series of 3-minute videos called “SGL Presents” in which top scholars break down their big ideas and expertise in critical gender and sexuality research and scholarship
– Matrices (seen the back page of New York Magazine?) mapping out what’s awesome and what’s questionable having to do with gender and sexuality at large each month
– SGL Spotlights, where we highlight new research, our take on what’s going viral, new books and anything we believe research can make more understandable.
Hover over highlighted words and definitions from our glossary will pop up. Everything will be tagged with a growing list of relevant terms so that you can gather all of the content on a theme or subject of interest.
On the home page, you’ll find a slider with our latest content. We are just getting started; come visit us regularly to see what’s new.
Follow and like us on Facebook (Sex Gen Lab) and Twitter (@sexgenlab) to find out about new blog posts, the latest SGL Presents video, or an up-to-the-minute matrix. We post the latest intriguing, inspiring, problematic, thought-provoking goings on having to do with gender and sexuality. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and comments. Stay up to date!
Deb, Jenn, Kim and Hunter
Founder and Executive Director: Deborah Tolman
Project Director and Senior Editor: Jennifer Chmielewski
Director of Social Media and SexGenLab Presents: Kim Nguyen
Director of Visuals: Hunter Kincaid