Julian Heilman


I am trans and I am a geographer.//


I am a transgender man, a mom, a husband, and an enthusiastic geography geek who is working on my 30th year at a federal science agency. I came to realize who I was late in life, and transitioned at work. For the most part, it was successful. There were a number of bumps in the road which would have been rectified had there been someone who had gone before me to show me how to stay safe, advocate for myself, and continue to stay enthusiastic about my work. I feel that I am now that person, and am still excited to be a geographer!

The world of spatial analysis is growing with the growth of data. Looking at the data – folding it, bending it, teasing out new facts, and getting a new look at the world – is like discovering a new planet. The trick, of course, is getting that “new look” to be seen by others, and that is where the strength of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) lies. I found that GIS, and its relatives (spectral analysis, remote sensing, digital modeling) make for a satisfying career.