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A supposedly fun thing I definitely won’t be repeating (A Pride post)

“My friends and I don’t wanna be here if this isn’t an actively trans-affirming space. I’m only coming if all my sisters can.” – I have no music for you today, sorry. But I do have an article about cruise ships 

(This is obviously not Andrew)

A Sunday night quickie post, from the tired side of Toronto’s Pride weekend. It’s also Pride month, and it’s 50 years on Friday since the Stonewall riots, which were a major event in LGBT+ rights activism in the US and across the world. Stan has even gone rainbow for the occasion. (And many thanks to the glorious Michael Betancourt who made the badge.)

This is a great opportunity for a party and to see Bud Lite et al.  pretend they care deeply about LGBTQIA+ people. But really it should also be a time to think about how open workplaces, departments, universities, conferences, any other place of work are to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, two-spirit, gender non-conforming, intersex, or who otherwise lead lives (or wish to lead lives) that lie outside the cisgender, straight world that the majority occupies.  People who aren’t spending a bunch of time trying to hide aspects of their life are usually happier and healthier and better able to contribute to things like science than those who are.

Which I guess is to say that diversity is about a lot more than making sure that there aren’t zero women as invited speakers. (Or being able to say “we invited women but they all said no”.) Diversity is about racial and ethnic diversity, diversity of gender, active and meaningful inclusion of disabled people, diversity of sexuality, intersections of these identities, and so much more. It is not an accounting game (although zero is still a notable number).

And regardless of how many professors or style guides or blogposts tell you otherwise, there is no single gold standard absolute perfect way to deliver information. Bring yourself to your delivery. Be gay. Be femme. Be masc. Be boring. Be sports obsessed. Be from whatever country and culture you are from. We can come along for the journey. And people who aren’t willing to are not worth your time.

Anyway, I said a pile of words that aren’t really about this but are about this for a podcast, which if you have not liked the previous three paragraphs you will definitely not enjoy. Otherwise I’m about 17 mins in (but the story about the alligators is also awesome.) If you do not like adult words, you definitely should not listen.

In the spirit of Pride month please spend some time finding love for and actively showing love to queer and trans folk. And for those of you in the UK especially (but everywhere else as well), please work especially hard to affirm and love and care for and support Trans* people who are under attack on many fronts. (Not least the recent rubbish about how being required to use people’s correct names and pronouns is somehow an affront to academic freedom, as if using the wrong pronoun or name for a student or colleague is an academic position.)

And should you find yourself with extra cash, you can always support someone like Rainbow Railroad. Or your local homeless or youth homeless charity. Or your local sex worker support charity like SWOP Behind Bars or the Sex Workers Project from the Urban Justice Centre. (LGBTQ+ people have much higher rates of homelessness [especially youth homelessness] and survival sex work than straight and cis people.)

Anyway, that’s enough for now. (Or nowhere near enough ever, but I’ve got other things to do.)  Just recall what the extremely kind and glorious writer and academic Anthony Olivera said in the Washington Post: (Also definitely read this from him because it’s amazing)

We do not know what “love is love” means when you say it, because unlike yours, ours is a love that has cost us everything. It has, in living memory, sent us into exterminations, into exorcisms, into daily indignities and compromises. We cannot hold jobs with certainty nor hands without fear; we cannot be sure when next the ax will fall with the stroke of a pen.

Hope you’re all well and I’ll see you again in LGBT+ wrath month. (Or, more accurately, some time later this week to talk about the asymptotic properties of PSIS.)

 

26 Comments

  1. Rahul says:

    Is non-discrimination a sufficient goal? Or does Diversity have to be actively pursued? Personally, I’m always confused about this.

    Is there a good framework to quantitatively encode diversity goals into specific decision making? Outside of the general, vague goal which I agree with. (I ask while heading to be on an interview panel today….)

    • Dan Simpson says:

      In order: Yes. Yes. Yes – work out what they are and encode them. It’s no more nebulous than “excellence”.

      • Rahul says:

        If ensuring non discrimination is sufficient that makes it easy.

        OTOH, if you have a multi objective optimization problem with excellence and diversity as twin goals one must decide on a weight for each goal. And that’s where things get tricky.

        • gec says:

          > Is there a good framework to quantitatively encode diversity goals into specific decision making?
          > a multi objective optimization problem

          I understand that this is a stats blog, but especially given the recent discussions emphasizing the merits and importance of qualitative research in many contexts (e.g., eating/voting behavior), I don’t understand why you’re jumping to the idea that these decisions need a quantitative basis. After all, the reason many lines of research in the social sciences have ended up in blind corners is because of a thoughtless embrace of quantitative methods which gives certain results a veneer of scientific precision when in fact the quantitative analyses hide underlying logical/practical flaws (Bem’s ESP paper is probably the best example of this). Quantitative methods are only helpful when you have good measurement, good operational definitions, and decent theory tying the constructs of interest to your measured outcomes. As Dan says, “diversity” is no more (or less!) nebulous than “excellence”, so it is likely folly to jump straight to trying to define these terms quantitatively.

          And, in keeping with another theme on this blog, often when you define a quantitative metric, you have immediately changed the game, encouraging people to optimize the metric not what it is supposed to measure. “Accounting” approaches to diversity certainly exist in industry and academia and tend to operate along similar lines. But this is the same impulse that encourages researchers to seek “p 3”) or to publish loads of cruddy uninformative papers to maximize publication number.

          My point with all this is not to deride quantitative measures in general, but to point out that adopting such a measure *uncritically* is what leads people astray. There is just no getting around needing to think about what “excellence” and “diversity” really are and what they mean (and talk/argue about them) if one really wants to improve things for all people. Indeed, I consider diversity an important goal precisely because it encourages thoughtfulness, not just about how one treats people who have different backgrounds, but because it encourages one to think along lines that one might not have otherwise explored.

          • Rahul says:

            Well let me put it another way:

            The twin goals of say excellence and diversity may not always axiomatically align. So how does one reconcile this with descision making.

            This is a non quantitative summary of the same problem.

            • gec says:

              Maybe I shouldn’t have drawn the analogy specifically between qualitative/quantitative, since I don’t think your summary really gets at what I was saying. Indeed, I don’t know what your axioms are and I’m not sure adopting anything like an axiom would even be helpful in this scenario.

              If you believe the goals of diversity and excellence cannot both be achieved by the same outcome in a particular situation, it is worth trying to figure out what your axioms are and think critically about them. You may find that they are not in conflict as much as you might think, or you might find yourself in a situation where you need to find a compromise. Either way, what helps is thinking deeply about what those goals mean in a specific scenario. Appealing to a set of metrics or to definitions (axioms) uncritically is exactly what I am saying is problematic—you cannot outsource your decision making that way any more than scientific progress can be outsourced to a set of approved statistical tests. To quote from one of Andrew’s recent posts (6/24/19), “Accepting uncertainty does not mean that we can’t make decisions.”

              But this is getting way too general to be helpful, is there a particular situation you are imagining?

  2. anonymous for once, for obvious reasons says:

    Sounds very nice, except for one thing: there is no way I can be proud of about the main defining characteristic of my sexual life: that I am male cishet incel. Moreover, I can’t complain to anyone that the inclusive “let us celebrate (ie brag about) the variety ways of our sexual and romantic success” month at the workplace does not, in fact, include everyone.

    • Empathy even for incels says:

      The “in” in “incel” is not actually involuntary, except to the extent that mental health resources may be difficult to access (e.g. because of the insanity of the United State health care system or if you live in a rural area). This is not to stigmatize the condition you claim, but merely to suggest that a lack of (healthy) pride and acceptance in one’s self is not something you are born with, nor does it need be a permanent condition.

      No one is owed sexual or romantic success, but everyone is entitled to respect, dignity, and self-determination over their own sexual experience. The thing about the incel community (this is not a statement on you as an individual, but rather based on my observation of that community at large) that I empathize with and which I feel they should feel free to speak about is the common lack of self-esteem that make them feel inferior. They blame their lack of romantic success on some inherent flaw in themselves. I empathize because I have been there. I personally found that to find the love of another I had to first find the capacity to love myself. The thing I absolutely 100% do not empathize with about incel community is how they tend to ALSO blame someone else (namely women, all women) for their lack of romantic success. Once again, EVERYONE is entitled to respect, dignity and self-determination over their own sexual experience.

      Anonymous, I respect you. I respect that you may be struggling with a lack of romantic success that is causing you pain. I empathize. Those are valid feelings no matter your race, gender, or orientation. But Pride Month is not an attack on you. You can complain that you are feeling pain because of what you are suffering through. You can’t say that “You don’t get to be proud because I’m not proud.” (Well you can because of the first amendment, but it makes you sound like a cad.)

      • she/her says:

        Eh, I was sympathetic. Someone who says, essentially, Be Who You Are!!!, as Dan is saying here, is imagining a certain range of Ways People Are, and it doesn’t include this guy. It’s fine to say there are bad ways to be. You can think incels are a bad way to be. But Dan didn’t say Be Who You Are Unless You’re a Bad Way To Be, so I think this is a helpful reminder that there are people you actually don’t want fully bringing themselves to work. Like, this guy fully brought himself here and you told him he sounded like a cad for it. Imagine if he did it at work.

    • Anoneuoid says:

      As a cis-2-alpha-3-het-male-uncel I know what you mean.

  3. > It is not an accounting game
    But most people cannot avoid counting …

    This conference seemed diverse (just my visual impression) https://ww2.amstat.org/meetings/sdss/2019/committee.cfm

    Perhaps because its sort of a new community?

    • Jeff says:

      Not an academic conference but this year’s Eyeo Festival lineup was an inspiring example of diversity that didn’t feel like an accounting exercise. The sessions also delivered on the premise that more inclusion leads to wider and more interesting perspectives. In other words, it went beyond “see, it’s possible to make a good conference with diverse speakers” to “diverse speakers made our conference way better.”

      http://eyeofestival.com/speakers/

      • Anoneuoid says:

        I guess I meant nomenclature instead of taxonomy, this is what that jargon reads like to me: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IUPAC_nomenclature_of_organic_chemistry

        So why not take it all the way? Level 1 alpha male, level 2 beta female, etc…

        Any of those can be cis, trans, then hom, bi, or het. Then incel, uncel, or acel. I supposed you can be mostly cis-het-incel but less often cis-hom-acel. Then we need to denote that hierarchy somehow. And maybe you are a beta when cis-het but act alpha when cis-hom.

        For example:
        fem-cis-I-beta-2-het-incel-II-alpha-1-hom-acel

        That would be someone born as a female who always identifies as a female, who mostly identifies as a level 2 beta personality heterosexual involuntary celibate but sometimes is a more confident level 1 alpha homosexual acelibate.

        I’m sure there are many more variants and issues that I missed… Just do it right so the nomenclature is inclusive of all possibilities. I think that means it would need to be Turing complete actually.

  4. she/her says:

    I’m female but I have a history of gender dysphoria that is currently pretty good/resolved. I sleep with men and women, including in ways that are socially disapproved of enough that many bi women feel disgust at the implication they might enjoy: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zmpw7w/find-women-threesomes-dating-apps-problems I’m also in a non-monogamous marriage. Also, I’ve been diagnosed and treated for anxiety, depression, and ADHD, and I have sensory issues which are commonly associated with autism, although I don’t believe I’m autistic. I also have weird politics and I participate in weird internet communities, and that’s a pretty big part of who I am.

    I feel strongly that none of this is the business of my co-workers. If it comes up and I feel comfortable, I might mention an ex-girlfriend from many years ago. But otherwise…I just want to come to work, be good at my job, and leave my personal life at home, including both my sex life and my mental health issues. I feel strongly that it is a good thing that people can be out about the gender of their partner, and people can be known by the pronoun they want to be. But I don’t *want* to bring myself to work because I am very weird, and I have places where I can express that, and those places are not my job. And not just because I’m worried about external consequences, but truly because it is not necessary. The idea of work as a place-where-we-bring-all-of-us is something I oppose, in part because your self may conflict in some way with my self (like, you want to share your deeply-held politics, I think your deeply-held politics is actually really bad), and then it’s just the most socially-approved person who wins, it’s just a different socially-approved person than before.

    • Martha (Smith) says:

      “I feel strongly that none of this is the business of my co-workers. If it comes up and I feel comfortable, I might mention an ex-girlfriend from many years ago. But otherwise…I just want to come to work, be good at my job, and leave my personal life at home, including both my sex life and my mental health issues. I feel strongly that it is a good thing that people can be out about the gender of their partner, and people can be known by the pronoun they want to be. But I don’t *want* to bring myself to work because I am very weird, and I have places where I can express that, and those places are not my job. And not just because I’m worried about external consequences, but truly because it is not necessary. The idea of work as a place-where-we-bring-all-of-us is something I oppose, in part because your self may conflict in some way with my self (like, you want to share your deeply-held politics, I think your deeply-held politics is actually really bad), and then it’s just the most socially-approved person who wins, it’s just a different socially-approved person than before.”

      Good points. People have a right to set boundaries — if they don’t want to bring parts of themselves (that are not relevant to their work) to work, that is their right.

      • she/her says:

        Thanks, but I’m arguing more than that: when we expand work to be a place where other people are being open about their identities in an expansive way, it’s more likely to put me in a position where instead of just not bringing it up, I need to be actively concealing, or where someone else’s identity is bumping up against mine. Like, with the idea of making everyone give their pronouns — I’m fine with female pronouns because whatever, but asking me to actively disclose them (as opposed to, look, I’m clearly a woman, can we just go with that?) feels like I’m being asked to fully buy into a gender identity that I actually…don’t. Or, like I said with the politics example — my coworker feels like their authentic self that they want to bring to work is political. I have a political (or religious) conviction that’s at odds with that. Instead of work being a neutral space in that arena, now we’re in a place where my identity is more marginalized and theirs is more dominant. That’s *annoying*.

        • Martha (Smith) says:

          Thanks for the elaboration. In particular, the sentence “Instead of work being a neutral space in that arena, now we’re in a place where my identity is more marginalized and theirs is more dominant” highlights an important point. I am guessing that part of this is the age-old introvert/extrovert conflict. Being an introvert myself, I of course prefer situations where “none of your business” is dominant, rather than the “share all/reach out” preference that some (fortunately not all) extroverts promote. So, for example, “making everyone give their pronouns” seems oppressive/intrusive/domineering to me — whereas “If you have pronoun preferences, please give them so others can respect them” sounds more respectful of boundaries/ otherness/separateness.

    • > just a different socially-approved person
      Communities tend have a sort of opposite form of the second law of thermodynamics – they gravitate towards increased commonness.

  5. Bob says:

    It’s strange to me that an academic would claim that compelled speech is not an issue of academic freedom. You do realize that you won’t always be in control of the definitions and parameters right?

    Absolutely, anybody should be able to live with respect and without fear of harassment or discrimination. But non-sequiturs are non-sequiturs, no matter how much empathy you have.

    Anyway, it’s a statistics blog, so 3 statistics questions:

    1. How many genders are there?

    2. What is the distribution of these genders?

    3. Do sex and gender vary independently?

    • Dalton says:

      Before you can answer 1, I think we need to answer “Is gender discrete or continuous?”

      Also what culture are we talking about? Genders are obviously distributed differently in different cultures. (The go to example here is obviously the hijras of South Asia.) It is less obvious how we quantify that.

      I think question 3 also is somewhere between discrete and continuous. Certainly not independent, but also not 100% dependent. Also, realize that “sex” itself (here I’m assuming you mean whether you have an XY or XX pair of chromosomes) is not so cut and dry: c.f. De la Chapelle syndrome where an individual with a female genotype has phenotypically male characteristics, or androgen insensitivity syndrome where a person has XY chromosomes but may appear phenotypically female.

      So tell me again, what’s the non-sequitur?

      • Martha (Smith) says:

        “Also, realize that “sex” itself (here I’m assuming you mean whether you have an XY or XX pair of chromosomes) is not so cut and dry: c.f. De la Chapelle syndrome where an individual with a female genotype has phenotypically male characteristics, or androgen insensitivity syndrome where a person has XY chromosomes but may appear phenotypically female.”

        Also, there are “human chimeras” ( https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/3-human-chimeras-that-already-exist/) who have two sets of DNA, and in some of these, the two sets are of different sexes (one has a Y chromosome and the other does not)

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