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Jesse Kolber


  • Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology, University of California, Davis; Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research (expected 2022)
  • M.A., Sociology, University of California, Davis, 2017
  • M.A., Sexuality Studies, San Francisco State University, 2014
  • B.A., Psychology, San Francisco State University, 2010


Jesse Kolber is a San Francisco-based Ph.D. Candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of California, Davis and an Assistant Professor of sociology at City College of San Francisco.

Jesse's work is broadly centered around gender and racial inequality. Specifically, he studies identity, perception, categorization, and boundaries. In addition to sociological teaching and research, Jesse is active in transgender advocacy efforts, particularly making higher education settings more accessible to TGNC students, faculty, and staff. 

Research Focus

Areas of Specialization: Gender, Sexuality, Race, Ethnicity, Identity, Perception, Inequality, Privilege, Qualitative Methods

Qualifying Paper: "Gender Transgressions: Typology, Prevalence, and Function"
Committee: Laura Grindstaff (chair), Maxine Craig, Erin Hamilton

Qualifying Exam: Sex + Gender and Race + Ethnicity
Committee: Maxine Craig (chair), Orly Clergé, Laura Grindstaff, Wendy Ho, Rana Jaleel

Dissertation: "Knowing Gender"
Committee: Laura Grindstaff (Chair), Orly Clergé, Maxine Craig, Aliya Saperstein (Stanford)

Abstract: The now-classic essay “Doing Gender'' by West and Zimmerman (1987) was published over 30 years ago. Since then, gender accomplishments and failures have been discussed at length; but what aspects of gender knowledge are necessary in order to do gender? Gender categories (men, women, nonbinary people, etc.) and statuses (cisgender or non-cisgender) structure social life and guide life chances, yet they lack significant sociological definition. To better understand gender categories and statuses, I conducted 75 interviews examining gender transgressions and the meaning making of gender boundaries. My analysis of gender rule-breaking will produce a theoretical intervention explaining the construction and transmission of gender knowledge. What exactly do we know when we know that a gender boundary is transgressed? Specifically, I will focus on why, despite engaging in many of the same gendered actions, cisgender and non-cisgender people occupy such different social and material realities. While non-cisgender experiences have been theorized as the exemplar of doing gender, there remains a need to critically analyze the cisgender status as a social phenomenon. I will lay a theoretical foundation to assess everyday power dynamics among all gendered actors. My study of those who are cisgender, questioning, transgender and/or nonbinary will produce new analytical tools to understand the gender system in which we are all immersed. In so many ways, to know one’s gender is to know one’s place in society. My work seeks to build on the "Doing Gender" literature by exposing the underlying mechanisms of what it is to “know” gender.

Selected Publications

Kolber, Jesse. "Having it both ways: White denial of racial salience while claiming oppression." Sociology Compass 11, no. 2 (2017): e12448.


Jesse Kolber is currently Assistant Professor of Sociology at City College of San Francisco. Previously, he has taught courses in psychology, sexuality studies, and LGBTQ studies.


2021 University of California, Davis Sociology Graduate Program Fellowship
2021 Beth B. Hess Memorial Scholarship awardee
2020 University of California, Davis Sociology Graduate Program Fellowship
2020 Finalist: Regina Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award
2019 Certificate of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco for transgender advocacy
2018 Harvey Milk Democratic Club Award for transgender advocacy
2018 Pacific Sociological Association, Student Travel Grant
2017 UC Davis Sociology Department, Small Research Grant
2016 UC Davis Humanities Institute Reading, Writing and Collaboration Group Grant