Cis, Boom, Balderdash: Physicists Go Nuclear for Diversity


If, like me, you are of an age that your notion of a scientist was formed by watching Fred McMurray portray Dr. Ned Brainard of Medfield College in the 1961 cinematic classic The Absent-Minded Professor, then you might also share my slack-jawed reaction to the newest professional organization for physicists. The organization, LGBTIQQAP+ Physicists, was introduced to a broader audience in an Inside Higher Education article entitled “Climate Change.”

"Light in his loafers" meant something different in 1961.

“Light in his loafers” meant something different in 1961.


I’m guessing that right now you are thinking this band of scientists has pooled its brainpower to advance global warming theories, and that the string of letters in the club’s name must signify a new and exciting formula to prove something or other.

As I have said many times before–you’d be wrong, my friend:

Welcome to the first website for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, asexual, pansexual, not-cisgender and not-straight (as well as friendly cis and straight) physicists. This resource website has come out of a need for resources for LGBTIQQAP+ physicists. It is our hope that it expands into a networking resource for young TIQQAPBLG+ physicists and students to find mentors, a place to find resources for laboratories and universities to make their physics departments more BTIQQAPLG+ friendly, as well as a hosting of information of get togethers of GLBTIQQAP+ physicists and friends.

Notice above how the physicists, desirous of all things inclusive, shift the order of the letters in their group’s acronym, lest a transgender citizen feel subordinate to a lesbian, gay, or bisexual person. I have studied “Climate Change” and the LGBTIQQAP+ Physicists website with profound care and attention and nowhere do I find a neutrino of irony, self-awareness, or, indeed, any higher-order thinking other than earnest self-absorption.

Come one, come all to the LGBTQQIPA physicists' ball!

Come one, come all to the LGBTQQIPA physicists’ ball!


Which gets us, in a way, to the bottom of things. I don’t mean the cri de couer for the chimeric “gender-neutral” toilets (in my experience, water closets don’t have too many strong feelings about gender one way or another), but rather the sly promotion of exclusivity through guise of inclusivity:

Recognizing signifi cant achievements of LGBT+ department members communicates that their contributions are valued equally along with those of others. Such recognition might include mention in a departmental newsletter or on a college or institutional website, nomination for a university or external prize, or an invitation to present a departmental colloquium.

The key point here is that one needs to make sure LGBT+ department members are fairly considered for such recognitions, alongside all other department members. For example, one might ask the departmental salary review committee to suggest nominees for various recognitions after reading everyone’s fi les each year. Another possibility is to seek nominees from among current or recent candidates for reappointment, promotion, or tenure; each tenure-system faculty member will therefore be considered several times during their career. In the case of an award aimed at graduate teaching assistants, the graduate chair might look over the teaching evaluations of all TAs or contact supervisors of all more experienced TAs to get suggestions.

When considering a faculty member’s service portfolio, work towards improving diversity or making the department climate more inclusive–including for LGBT+ students, staff and faculty–should be counted in the same way as any other service to the professional community.

The key point here is LGBTQQAP+ physicists should receive extra credit for their carnal habits.

Those same habits go a long way towards landing the enterprising LGBTQQAP+ physicist a sinecure in the department, write Elizabeth H. Simmons and Ramón S. Barthelemy in Inside Higher Ed:

Phrasing departmental materials so as to demonstrate that LGBT individuals are welcome and their interests are supported is a good first step.

Recruitment is an obvious place to start. Make sure that job announcements and student recruitment materials incorporate nondiscrimination statements including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression…. Partnering with LGBT organizations can demonstrate your broader commitment to inclusion.

Because, you know, adding a questioning, pansexual, intersex queer to the physics department is incredibly exciting to the QLB–quark, lepton, and baryon–community.

The Experimental Nuclear Physics group at Florida State Univeristy: Can you spot the LGBTQQIAP among them? Does it matter?

The Experimental Nuclear Physics group at Florida State Univeristy: Can you spot the LGBTQQIAP among them? Does it matter?


NOTE: Read more at Nancy Pelosi’s Alter Ego: Hampshire College Professor Margaret Cerullo Assures Students, “You Don’t Have to Read It to Know What’s in It” and Academic Bombast: A Little Bit of Cis and That

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