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Derek Cohen 540

Derek Cohen

PhD Student

Research interests

  • Gender equality (SDG 5)
  • Diversity


After studying Philosophy and Economics at St John’s College, Oxford (1968-1971) Derek worked as a residential social worker with The Richmond Fellowship, working in “half-way houses” for teenagers recovering from mental health issues and then obtained a professional social work qualification at Goldsmith’s (1976-1977). Having become disillusioned with how state-provided social work services had become what he felt was a plaster to cover up cracks in the welfare state he then did various counter-culture jobs including as a motorcycle messenger and as part of a workers’ collective distributing radical magazines, books and pamphlets to the retail trade. During this latter period he also became part of the editorial collective which produced Gay Left – A socialist journal produced by gay men, writing articles and a book chapter on the importance of cultural representation for gay men.

From 1984 to 2005 Derek worked as a journalist, editor and editorial director on technology and lifestyle magazines for major magazine publishing houses. And from 2002 until 2022 he set up and headed a small technology company, Demographix, providing online quantitative and data analysis tools for large organisations and academics. In the health area, he worked on research projects including multiple pan-European studies of the health and sexual practices of gay men for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, an Open university study on the services available to trans people and a clinical trial run by MRC/UCL on the effectives of free HIV self-test kits on HIV transmission.

After Demographix Derek returned to academia completing an MSc in Bioethics and Society at King's in 2023. His dissertation topic was An investigation into the ethics of biological research into why men have sex with men, interviewing key researchers in the field.

His PhD research topic is an ethnographic longitudinal study of the effect of political, social and traditional media discourse on the parents of trans/gender-diverse teenagers.

Wider research areas:

  • Identities in trans/gender-diverse people of all ages
  • The legal and political constraints on alternative genders, sexualities and families
  • Ethical decisions around end-of-life support
  • Paraphilias
  • Nicotine addiction and structural violence