Googlers Against Transphobia and Hate

Googlers Against Transphobia
12 min readApr 1, 2019

Google must remove Kay Coles James from its Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC).

On March 27, four days before Trans Day of Visibility, Google announced the members of its Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), which is tasked with informing the company’s decisions around AI and other technologies. Among those appointed to ATEAC is Kay Coles James, the President of the Heritage Foundation, who is vocally anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrant.

Her record speaks for itself — over, and over, and over again.

In selecting James, Google is making clear that its version of “ethics” values proximity to power over the wellbeing of trans people, other LGBTQ people, and immigrants. Such a position directly contravenes Google’s stated values. Many have emphasized this publicly, and a professor appointed to ATEAC has already resigned in the wake of the controversy.

Following the announcement, the person who took credit for appointing James stood by the decision, saying that James was on the council to ensure “diversity of thought.” This is a weaponization of the language of diversity. By appointing James to the ATEAC, Google elevates and endorses her views, implying that hers is a valid perspective worthy of inclusion in its decision making. This is unacceptable.

Appointing James to ATEAC also significantly undermines Google’s position on AI ethics and fairness. The potential harms of AI are not evenly distributed, and follow historical patterns of discrimination and exclusion. From AI that doesn’t recognize trans people, doesn’t “hear” more feminine voices, and doesn’t “see” women of color, to AI used to enhance police surveillance, profile immigrants, and automate weapons — those who are most marginalized are most at risk. Not only are James’ views counter to Google’s stated values, but they are directly counter to the project of ensuring that the development and application of AI prioritizes justice over profit. Such a project should instead place representatives from vulnerable communities at the center of decision-making.

Google cannot claim to support trans people and its trans employees — a population that faces real and material threats — and simultaneously appoint someone committed to trans erasure to a key AI advisory position. Given this, we call on Google to remove Kay Coles James from ATEAC.


2,556 Googlers*

Academic, civil society, and industry supporters:

To add your name to the list of supporters:

  1. Email from your institutional email address (preferred) with the subject line “support”
  2. Include your name and affiliation, as you’d like it to appear on the list of signatories.

*We launched this petition publicly at the same time that we announced it within Google. We will be updating this post periodically as signatures are added.

Craig Aaron, Free Press’ President and CEO
Amelia Acker, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin
Marc Aidinoff, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ronni Alexander, Professor, Kobe University
Ali Alkhatib, PhD student in Computer Science, Stanford University
Bob Aman, Senior Security Engineer, Remitly, Former Google Employee
Jeff Andersen, UC Davis Health
John Anderson, Segal Design Institute, Northwestern University
Michael Angel, gay Software Engineer, master’s student at SDSU
Claire Elizabeth Aran, Art Director, Forward XP
Reuben Aronson, Carnegie Mellon University
Melissa Auclaire, Software Engineer
Derick Bailey, nonbinary trans person in software development as a consultant, author, and owner of Muted Solutions, LLC.
Lily Ballard, Customer and software engineer
Amy Banzaert, Director of Engineering Studies & Lecturer in Engineering, Wellesley College
Adam Barber, CS Student at Portland State University
Renata Barreto, JD / PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley School of Law
Lindsey Barrett, Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center
Colin Bayer, University of Washington
Mike Beazley, Librarian, Acadia University
Siobhan Beeman, Lecturer in Computer Science, DigiPen University
Andrew Beers, PhD Student, University of Washington
Tulta Behm, Film technician
Aaron C. Bell, Ridge-i Inc
Gerald Belmosto, Bryant University
Wafa Ben-Hassine, Access Now
Emily M. Bender, Professor of Linguistics and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington
Laurent Bercot, Software & Systems Engineer, former Googler
Rachel Bergmann, McGill University
Ellen Berrey, University of Toronto
Camilla Bertoncin, Research Assistant, Government Innovation Team (Data), Nesta
Rahul Bhargava, Research Scientist, MIT
Reuben Binns, University of Oxford
Abeba Birhane, School of Computer Science and Informatics, University College Dublin, Ireland
Josh Bisker, Bindlestiff Family Cirkus
Adam Blank, Lecturer, California Institute of Technology
Violet Blue, Journalist and Author, Advisor: Without My Consent
Cennydd Bowles, NowNext Design, Author of ‘Future Ethics’
Penny E. Brant, LGBTQ student at Phillips Exeter Academy
Johanna Brewer, Co-founder of Neta Snook
Jenny Dyck Brian, Arizona State University
Joy Buolamwini, Algorithmic Justice League Founder
Mark Burdick, Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences
Thorsten Busch, Lecturer, University of St. Gallen
Marc Caldwell, Homelessness advocate
Julie Carpenter, PhD, research scientist
Corinne Cath-Speth, DPhil Student, University of Oxford
Alissa Centivany, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Western University
Carri W. Chan, Associate Professor of Business, Columbia Business School
Dan Chiasson, Professor of English, Wellesley College
Mark C. Chu-Carroll, Senior Data Infrastructure Engineer at Spotify
Charlotte Clymer, Human Rights Campaign
James Coglan, Freelance software developer and author
Catia Cecilia Confortini, Associate Professor Peace & Justice Studies Program, Wellesley College
Paul Conway, Associate Professor of Information, University of Michigan School of Information
Sasha Costanza-Chock, Associate Professor of Civic Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Josh Cowls, The Alan Turing Institute/Oxford Internet Institute
Molly Crabapple, Author and Artist
Jason Cramer, PhD Student, New York University
Kate Crawford, Co-founder and Co-director, AI Now Institute at NYU
Jeffrey Crews, President, Durham’s Makerspace; STEAM educator
Emily Cunningham, UX Designer, Amazon
Catherine D’Ignazio, Assistant Professor of Civic Media and Data Visualization, Emerson College
Andrew Day, Learning and Teaching Librarian, University for the Creative Arts UK
Jonathan Dedering, Web Developer, University of Wisconsin — Madison
Stephanie DeGooyer, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard Univeristy
Carolyn Dekker, Suomi College of Arts and Sciences, Finlandia University
Allele Dev, Transgender Software Engineer @ Fastly
Fernando Diaz, Microsoft Research Montréal
Alexis Dinno, Associate Professor, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health
Hao Do, Associate Professor, Full Sail University
Aidan Doak, Infrastructure Engineer, Sailthru
Roel Dobbe, Postdoctoral Researcher, AI Now Institute, NYU
Cory Doctorow, Author and Activist
Amanda Donahoe, Assistant Professor of Political Science. Department of History and Political Science, Centenary College of Louisiana
Adam Donason, M.A. Theological Studies, Boston University School of Theology
Brian Donnelly, Counselor/Advocate II/QMHA
Priya Donti, PhD student, Carnegie Mellon University
Penelope Doyle, Activist
Krzysztof Drewniak, PhD student in Computer Science, University of Washington
Margaret Drouhard, PhD Candidate, Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington
Lisa Duggan, Professor Dept of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York Unversity
Meredith Durbin, Graduate Student, University of Washington
Shane Durgee, Gallery Coordinator, Rochester Institute of Technology
Morgan R.W. Dyson, Transgender Marine Corps Veteran and Undergraduate Student of Public Policy Analysis & Politics at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
Regina Eckert, PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley
Frank Elavsky, Data Visualization Engineer
Corrin Elizabeth, Senior Data Scientist at Slack
E.R. Emison, PhD candidate in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing, University of Texas at Austin
Catelyne Nichelle Farrell, Akamai Technologies
Corey Farwell, Senior Software Engineer, Kickstarter PBC
Ben Feingersh, Support Engineer at Dataxu
Oscar Feliciano, Computer Science student, Montclair State University
Stefanie Felsberger, Researcher
Clara Fernández-Vara, Associate Arts Professor, New York University
Élise Féron, Senior Researcher, Tampere Peace Research Institute
Laura Fichtner, Department of Informatics, Universität Hamburg
Michael Flynn, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Jasmine Folz, University of Manchester
Liz Fong-Jones, Co-founder of Trans@Google, and former Googler, Board Member of the National Center for Transgender Equality
Ralph Quinlan Forde, BSc Hons. CEO Learning to Exhale & Mindful Beauty, Author of The Book of Tibetan Medicine, currently completing an MA final dissertation AI, Transhumanism & Buddhist Ethics.
Sarah Fox, University of California, San Diego
Tyler Fox, Lecturer, Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington
Rory Fraga, EV Controls Design Engineer, General Motors
John Frens, PhD Candidate, University of Washington
Phoebe Friesen, University of Oxford
Jackie Fu, Design Technologist, frog
Leah M. Fygetakis, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist (MA)
Christine Geeng, University of Washington
Anna Geiduschek, Software Engineer, Dropbox
Ares Geovanos, Graduate Student, Stanford University
Joseph Gesnouin, PhD candidate at Université Paris Descartes
Jonathan M. Gilligan, Associate Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences and Civil & Environmental Engineering, Vanderbilt University
Emerson Goldstein, Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice
Laura Gonzalez, Microsoft
Mallory S. Graydon, Research Computer Scientist
Meggan M Green, Software Engineer, cis queer woman
Evan Greer, Fight for the Future
Eileen Gunn, Writer
Kate Carroll de Gutes, gender non-conforming author
Alexa Hagerty, PhD Stanford University, Co-founder Dovetail Labs
Winston Hearn, Vox Media
Niall Hedderley, University of Oxford
Luke Herrine, PhD Candidate, Yale Law School
Jason Herrmann, Institute of Prehistory, Early History, and Medieval Archaeology, University of Tübingen
Rob Hesketh, Director of Always Be Coding Ltd
Mar Hicks, Associate Professor, Illinois Institute of Technology
Fanny Hidvegi, Access Now
Johnicholas Hines, Software Engineer, Glitch
Mél Hogan, Assistant Professor, CMF, University of Calgary
Leigh Honeywell, Founder, Tall Poppy IO
Alexis Hope, Researcher, MIT Media Lab
Daira Hopwood, Software Engineer and Cryptographer, Jacaranda Software
Julia Horowitz, Software Engineer, Lyft
Raymond Horton, Frank Lautenberg Professor of Ethics and Corporate Governance at Columbia Business School
Josephine Hoy, Technical Product Manager, Amazon
Michael Huffman, Mindtree
Sandra Hui, PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley
Suze Huldt, Software engineer in voice-connected gaming, Sensible Object
Leah Hunt-Hendrix, Co-Founder, Way to Win
Cara Esten Hurtle, Senior Android engineer at Slack
Michael Hurwitz, Principal Software Engineer
Carla Hustedt, Project Lead “Ethics of Algorithms”, Bertelsmann Stiftung
Rajit Iftikhar, Software Development Engineer, Amazon
Andrew Iliadis, Assistant Professor, Media Studies and Production, Temple University
Lilly Irani, Communication, Science Studies, Design Lab, UC San Diego
Roberto Iriondo, Engineer, Carnegie Mellon University
Liz Jackson, Founder, The Disabled List
Anne Jonas, PhD Student, School of Information, UC Berkeley
Emma Kaywin, Consent and Trauma Educator
Dia Kayyali, WITNESS
Tim Kenney, Online Marketer
Kristen Kessler, PLURR Pact
Os Keyes, University of Washington
Levin Kim, Harvard University
Brian Kinnee, University of Washington
Susanne Kirchner-Adelhardt, University of Washington
Naomi Klein, Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair of Media, Culture and Feminist Studies, Rutgers University
Zach Klippenstein, Software Engineer, Square
Tamara Kneese, Assistant Professor of Media Studies, University of San Francisco
Peter Krafft, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington
Kjell Krona, Senior Analyst, Sony Mobile Communications
Gretchen Krueger, NYU
Ram Shankar Siva Kumar, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Anitta Kynsilehto, Senior researcher, Tampere University, Finland
Regis Lacher, Formerly Apex Learning
Joe Lamb, Activist
James Landay, Professor, Computer Science Dept., Stanford University
Matt Lane, Co-founder & Lead Instructor, Rithm School
Ricky de Laveaga, moviemaker and digital media consultant
Alexandria Christina Leal, Support Engineer, Trust & Safety Activist
Charlotte Lee, Associate Professor, University of Washington
Emma Leitner, Sacramento State University
Daniel Leufer, Intern, Access Now
Bron Lewis, Senior Security Engineer, Nuna
Kevin Liao, Facebook
Chad Loder, CEO & Founder, Habitu8
Wolf Logan, Omnidian
Kit Lorelied, Librarian, Tualatin Public Library
Daniel Lowd, Associate Professor of Computer and Information Science, University of Oregon
Bryce Alexander Lynch, Field Analyst, Special Circumstances LLC
Michael Madaio, Carnegie Mellon University, Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Anthony Maki, Software Engineer, Atomic Data
Eric Marshall, Business Systems Analyst, Educational Media Foundation
João Martins, Carnegie Mellon University
Varoon Mathur, Technology Fellow, AI Now Institute
David A. & Jana S. Matson, Founders, Matson Concierge Consulting Services
Lida Maxwell, Associate Professor of Political Science & Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Boston University
Chandler May, PhD student in Computer Science, Johns Hopkins University
Mary K. Meyer McAleese, Professor of Political Science, Eckerd College
Mark McBride, Senior Staff Software Engineer at Slack
Emily McCarthy, Software Developer at Vistar Media
Hanna Naima McCloskey, Fearless Futures
Maureen McElaney, Developer Advocate, IBM
Michael McFaul, Stanford University
Katherine McKinley, Facebook
Keith W. McMahon, Community Activist
Phoenix Meadowlark, University of Washington
Danaë Metaxa, PhD Candidate in Computer Science, Stanford University
Jacob Metcalf, PhD, Data & Society Research Institute
Peter Micek, Lecturer, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs
Judith A. Miller, Associate Professor, Dept. of History, Emory University
Rachel Miller, Writer
Benaiah Mischenko, Developer at Netlify
Ciamac Moallemi, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University
Tom Moore, Artist
Pedro Morais, Research Assistant, Oregon State University
Nicholas Morrison, Alphabet Inc. Shareholder
Heather Morrison, MS student in Computational Linguistics, University of Washington
Yasmine Mortazavi, Software Engineer, Zillow Group
Emanuel Moss, Doctoral Candidate, CUNY Graduate Center
Eni Mustafaraj, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Wellesley College
Tylre Neely, Senior Distributed Systems Engineer, Ferrous Systems
Jennifer Neves, Director of Technical Talent, ActBlue
Sarah Van Neyghem, Software Developer
Cameron Nicholson, Apple Systems Engineer
Mutale Nkonde, Fellow, Data & Society Research Institute
Safiya Umoja Noble, Associate Professor in the Departments of Information Studies and African American Studies, UCLA
Liz O’Sullivan, Formerly Clarifai, Conscientious Objector
Maggie Oates, Carnegie Mellon University
Colin Okasaki, University of Washington
Kate Olsen, Marketing assistant, MLT Group
Floriana Pagano, Access Now
Trevor Paglen, Artist
Sungju Park-Kang, University of Turku, Finland
Meredith L. Patterson, CEO and owner of Special Circumstances, LLC
Blakeley H. Payne, Graduate Research Assistant, MIT Media Lab
Bernhard Petersch, R&D Engineer, Berlin/Germany
Jon Pincus, A Change Is Coming
Emily Pinkerton, Senior Content Strategist, Slack
Tony Plunkett, ANet
Alex Poms, Ph.D. Student in Computer Science, Stanford University
Jack Poulson, Founder of Tech Inquiry
David Price, School of Chemistry, Monash University, Australia
Smitha Radhakrishnan, Associate Professor of Sociology and Luella LaMer Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, Wellesley College
Catherine Raissiguier, Chair, Department of Women and Gender Studies, Hunter College, CUNY
Aziz Rana, Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
James Renken, The Linux Foundation
Elizabeth Resor, PhD student, UC Berkeley School of Information
Robin Hyowon Rhee, Samsung Electronics
Steven R. Rick, PhD Student in Computer Science, UC San Diego
Giulio Valentino Dalla Riva, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Scott Robbins, PhD Researcher, Technical University of Delft
Cory Robin, Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center
Martina Astrid Rodda, DPhil student, University of Oxford
Jeff Rodman, Co-Founder, Polycom Corporation
Charlie Roselius, Associate Software Engineer, Riot Games
Daniela K. Rosner, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington
Andrew Ross, New York University
Jill Rouleau, Senior Software Engineer, Red Hat
Noah A. Rubin, Director, Elementary Education Program, Wellesley College
Igor Rubinov, Co-founder, Dovetail Labs; PhD Candidate, Princeton University
Niloufar Salehi, Assistant Professor, School of Information, UC Berkeley
Giancarlo Alexander Morales Sandoval, COO and owner of Special Circumstances, LLC
Penelope Sands, Naropa University
Eduardo Santiago, Senior Software Engineer,Red Hat
Wells Lucas Santo, AI4ALL
Dorothy R. Santos, PhD student in Film and Digital Media, University of California, Santa Cruz
Atrisha Sarkar, PhD candidate, Computer Science, University of Waterloo
Arvind Satyanarayan, Assistant Professor, MIT CSAIL
Dr. Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa, Assistant Professor of Film Studies, Seattle University
Adina Shanholtz, Microsoft
Kenan Sharpe, University of California, Santa Cruz
Ramona Sharples, Product Designer
Andrea Shepard, Chief Financial Officer, Special Circumstances
David Shere, Software Engineer, Nuna
Rafael Shimunov, Immigration Activist
Roxana Shirkhoda, Director, Special Initiatives at Tides, Former Googler
Caroline Sinders, Fellow, the Mozilla Foundation
Danielle Skysdottir, Amazonian, software engineer, and board member of the glamazon and Amazon Women in Engineering affinity groups
Cheri Smith, Freelance Web Designer
Rebecca Solnit, Writer
Ashkan Soltani, Independent Consultant and Researcher
Ally Sparkles, University of Colorado
Robyn Speer, Co-Founder, Luminoso Technologies
Amy Stephenson, Principal, Wordacious LLC
Nikki Stevens, Arizona State University
Yuan Stevens, Affiliate, Data & Society Research Institute
Graham Storrs, Author
Chase Strangio, Attorney
Robert Stribley, Associate Experience Director, Razorfish
Andy Stuhl, McGill University
JS Tan, Microsoft
Ben Tapper, Desktop Support Specialist at Wellesley College
Astra Taylor, Writer and Debt-Collective Co-Founder
Tara Taylor, Linode
Zephyr Teachout, Associate Professor at Fordham
Chris Terry, Cloud Platform Engineering Consultant
Rachel Thomas, Assistant professor, University of San Francisco; co-founder,
E. Guin Thompson, Assistant Professor of Illustration, Grand Valley State University
Alexandra To, Carnegie Mellon University, Human Computer Interaction Institute
Claudia Trevor-Wright, Master Certified Health Education Specialist, Attorney
Hanna Tur, News Producer/Reporter
James Turnbull, CTO in residence, Microsoft
Michael Veale, University College London/University of Birmingham
Elena R. Vera, Executive Director, Trans Lifeline
Sarah Voegeli, Senior UX Designer, GitLab
Annie Walters, Landscape Designer, Seattle, WA
McKenzie Wark, Professor of Media and Culture, The New School
Christina Warren, Microsoft
David Watson, Oxford Internet Institute
Moira Weigel, Harvard University
Sarah Weingarten, Software Engineer, Riot Games
Liz Wendell, Rural Advancement International — USA
Sarah Myers West, Postdoctoral Researcher, AI Now Institute, NYU
Benjamin Whelan, Global Risk and Operations Manager, Access Now
Meredith Whittaker, Co-founder and Co-director, AI Now Institute at NYU
David Gray Widder, Carnegie Mellon University
Carson Wilcox, Software Engineer, Bell Canada
Daniel Will-Harris, Author
Leilah Williams, Developer, Compass Inc
Laura Wilson, Senior Service Offering Management Engineer, Humana
Heather Wiltse, Umeå University
Christian Wittenberg, Lead Architect. Signify
Şerife Wong, Founder, Icarus Salon
Tess Woods, UCSF
Thomas Wors II, Site Reliability Engineer, Equifax Workforce Solutions
Kyle Worthington, Systems Administrator
Jiacheng Xu, Department of Computer Science, The University of Texas at Austin
Manlin Yao, User Researcher
Lynette (Kvasny) Yarger, PhD, Associate Professor of Information Sciences & Technology, Pennsylvania State University
Michael York, Professor Emeritus, Bath Spa University
Natalia Miranda Yupanqui, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru
Annie Zhang, Facebook
Andrew Zick, Software Engineer, Carbon Black
Luisa Zintgraf, University of Oxford
Stephan Zuercher, Senior Staff Software Engineer, Slack Technologies



Googlers Against Transphobia

Google can’t claim to support trans people and appoint someone committed to trans erasure. We call on Google to remove Kay Coles James from ATEAC.