Beans Velocci (they/them) is a doctoral candidate who works on the history of sexuality and science in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States.
Their dissertation, “Binary Logic: Race, Expertise, and the Persistence of Uncertainty in American Sex Research,” argues that the power to sort bodies by sex came not from crystallized, agreed-upon parameters, or inherent bodily forms, but rather a mobile and malleable understanding of sex that allowed for agile reclassification and reconstitution of sex categories within legitimate scientific practice. It uses archives related to zoology, eugenics, gynecology, statistics, and trans medicine, and methods from science and technology studies (STS) and queer and trans history, to examine how scientists used uncertainty to their advantage as they produced binary sex in contrast to evidence that failed to show obvious or stable divisions between male and female bodies.
In 2020, Beans’ dissertation chapter “Unsolved Problems of Anomalous Sex: Managing Sexual Multiplicity in Nineteenth-Century Animal Studies” won the Committee on LGBT History’s Gregory Sprague Prize for an outstanding paper by a graduate student. While at Yale, Beans has been selected as a John Money Fellow for Scholarship in Sexology at the Kinsey Institute, a William T. Golden Fellow at the American Philosophical Society, and a junior fellow at the Center for Black, Brown, and Queer Studies. Their research has also been supported by Yale’s Fund for Lesbian and Gay Studies. Their writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Avidly: A Channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Routledge History of Queer America. In addition to their historical work, Beans collaborates with biologists and ecologists on scientific projects rethinking contemporary approaches to sex research.
Beans graduated cum laude and with departmental honors in History from Smith College in 2011, and earned an MA in History from the University of Utah in 2015. They also hold a graduate certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Yale.