VU Pride panel debate: Researching the rainbow

As you know I am co-founder and coremember of VU Pride, the Rainbow-network of the Vrije Universiteit. On January 16 we host a debate about researching gay genetics.

VU PRIDE HOSTS: Researching the rainbow: Essential self-discovery or scary science?

A panel debate on the ethics of scientific research into sexual and gender diversity

Date: January 16, 2020
Time: 16.30-20.00
Location: 3D on VU campus
Entrance = free

If our sexuality and gender are stored in our very cells, should we try to find it?

For centuries, scientist have been trying to explain sexual and gender diversity. Current scientific inquiries focus on our DNA or brains as manifestation sites of sex, gender and sexuality. The claim that nature has decided for us and LGBTQ+-people are ‘born this way’ is often used in the struggle for equal rights for people minoritized based on their sexuality and gender. The more we know about the foundations of human behavior and identity the better, right? Or could there be a downside to it all?

This panel debate will center on the bounties and boundaries of fundamental research into the origins of sexual orientation and gender identity. A panel of VU-affiliated scientists, scholars and students will elaborate on the acceptability, usability and possible implications of such research – for our academic institutions and for our communities. And of course, the audience can have a say as well!

Sign up here!


16.30-17.00 Walk in
17.00-17.45 Panel discussion
17.45-18.30 Discussion with audience
18.30-20.00 Food and drinks


Michel Nivard is an assistant professor of biological psychology at the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences at VU University. He co-authored the 2019 Science paper “Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior” that received international media attention.

Reubs J Walsh is a PhD candidate in the department of clinical, developmental and neuro-psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Reubs’ research centers on the role of the social environment in determining neuro/psychological functions, with a particular focus on social and personal identity processes and adolescent development. This includes substantial work around transgender identity, embodiment and social conditioning.

Afiah Vijlbrief specializes in gender and sexual identity, intersectionality and diversity. Afiah researches the effectiveness of interventions aimed at promoting equality and inclusion of marginalized groups, including LGBTQI folks. She is also a trainer and educator, and gives workshops and lectures about equality, diversity and inclusion to VU students, care professionals, LGBT and migrant youth, and advocacy groups.

Alex Harleman (They/Them) is a 6th year medical student at VUmc School of Medical Sciences.

Moderator: Dr. Maaike Muntinga, chair VU Pride and researcher/lecturer at the department of Medical Humanities, Amsterdam UMC location VUmc.

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