Shayle Matsuda

Picture of Giraffe Shayle Matsuda

Shayle Matsuda is devoting his life to science, and to gaining acceptance for LBGBT scientists like himself.

Matsuda discovered the work that still fascinates him when he was a child visiting Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. Seeing all the sea creatures that day launched his lifelong fascination with marine biology.

As a teen he realized he was gay; in his 20s he understood that he was transgender and began the process of transitioning, hoping he would still have a place in marine biology.

Now Dr. Matsuda, he’s kept his standing and is working to be sure other trans people are also accepted in the sciences.

“I struggled with gender for a long time,” says Matsuda, “but, as a scientist, I was always looking for some evidence. I was like, ‘Are you sure? Is there proof? Like, do you really know this is you?’ . . . Transitioning is a really scary thing on its own, but I was really scared about what this would mean for me in science, especially science not necessarily in San Francisco.”

Matsuda is an expert on coral reefs at a time when reefs dying all over the world from the climate crisis. He’s an expert on transitioning at a time when others making the journey need his experience and guidance.

Now doing a postdoc fellowship at the very Shedd Aquarium where his love of marine biology began, Dr. Matsuda has become a visible, valuable presence at events and online, sharing his experiences with others to give them hope and courage. As he says, “All it takes is one story to change someone’s life.”