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Health expert: Celebrate ‘queerness’ of birds made infertile by toxins


Endocrine disruption in animals could give us a ‘perverse joy’

The head of the department of global health and social medicine at Kings College London argued that we should rejoice in the reproductively “atypical” wildlife produced by toxic pollution.

“I want to suggest that we depathologize queer animals, even when that queerness is the product of human-produced toxins in the environment, and even when it inhibits animals’ reproductive capacity,” scholar Anne Pollock wrote in a paper called “Queering Endocrine Disruption.”

“Perhaps we even might find a perverse joy here,” Pollock wrote.

The Free Press drew attention to the Pollock’s celebration of endocrine disruption in its Friday newsletter.

“As we learn more about hormone-disrupting chemicals in the air and water, there is a movement brewing to embrace both the changes and the chemicals themselves,” Nellie Bowles wrote. “This movement considers it transphobic to be so worried about environmental toxins disrupting fetal sex development in animals (including the human animal).”

Indeed, “posing intersex characteristics as the sine qua non of harm to our environment is a move steeped in heteronormativity,” Pollock wrote in her article.

Even more, “from a queer feminist perspective, should we automatically decry the flourishing of nonreproductive male pairs of birds?” Pollock wrote.

“Although these birds’ sociality is circumscribed (no intergenerational community), it is not erased (male pairing),” Pollock wrote. “Their stroll is neither suicidal nor solitary. These birds are living in the moment and for themselves, rather than for the children.”

Even the birds’ polluted intoxication itself, in addition to their pollution-induced reproductive malformations, might be a state to celebrate, Pollock continued.

“Yeah, maybe these birds are ‘fucked up’ by their polluted environment,” she stated. “But I do not think that I am saying too much about my own experiences of intoxication, or assuming too much about that of the reader, to point out that it can be fun to be fucked up.”

Anne Pollock holds a PhD in Science, Technology & Society from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelors degree in sociology from Brandeis University, according to her university bio.

Her “research explores feminist, anti-racist, and postcolonial engagements with science, technology, and medicine,” according to the bio.

MORE: Ecological restoration is like ‘gender confirmation surgeries,’ river scientist tells Princeton students

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