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Transfeminist Perspectives in and beyond Transgender and Gender Studies

Transfeminist Perspectives in and beyond Transgender and Gender Studies

Edited by ANNE ENKE
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 268
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  • Book Info
    Transfeminist Perspectives in and beyond Transgender and Gender Studies
    Book Description:

    Lambda Literary Award for Best Book in Transgender Nonfiction, 2013If feminist studies and transgender studies are so intimately connected, why are they not more deeply integrated? Offering multidisciplinary models for this assimilation, the vibrant essays inTransfeminist Perspectives in and beyond Transgender and Gender Studiessuggest timely and necessary changes for institutions of higher learning.Responding to the more visible presence of transgender persons as well as gender theories, the contributing essayists focus on how gender is practiced in academia, health care, social services, and even national border patrols. Working from the premise that transgender is both material and cultural, the contributors address such aspects of the university as administration, sports, curriculum, pedagogy, and the appropriate location for transgender studies.Combining feminist theory, transgender studies, and activism centered on social diversity and justice, these essays examine how institutions as lived contexts shape everyday life.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0748-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Transfeminist Perspectives
    (pp. 1-15)

    This book is born of the conviction that feminist studies and transgender studies are intimately connected to one another in their endeavor to analyze epistemologies and practices that produce gender. Despite this connection, they are far from integrated.Transfeminist Perspectivesin and beyondTransgender and Gender Studiesseeks to highlight the productive and sometimes fraught potential of this relationship. Feminist, women’s, and gender studies grew partly from Simone de Beauvoir’s observation that “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”¹ Transgender studies extends this foundation, emphasizing that there is no natural process by which any one becomes woman, and...

  5. Note on Terms and Concepts
    (pp. 16-20)
  6. PART I “This Much Knowledge”:: Flexible Epistemologies

    • 1 Gender/Sovereignty
      (pp. 23-33)

      In an earlier work, “Trapped in the Wrong Classroom: Making Decolonial Trans-Cultural Spaces in Women’s Studies,”¹ I began to think about relationships between pedagogies of critical consciousness² and transing³ as a praxis for decolonization.⁴ I took the master narrative about trans-people “being trapped in the wrong body”⁵ and thought about the classroom as a colonized and colonizing space, for trans-students and trans-educators, which needed to be transformed to become a place of dialogical practice.⁶ I began to imagine a space for dialogue that did not trap—colonize—my body and experiences as a trans- Boricua⁷ professor of psychology and gender...

    • 2 “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Dumb?” Diversity, Privilege, and Heteronormative Perceptions of Competence within the Academy
      (pp. 34-44)

      Power and credibility are not evenly distributed in societies, and this includes the academy. I am a transsexual woman, an academic, and a scientist; the disconnect between many of my personal and professional experiences is jarring. On the one hand, I’m a scientist—people are very willing to trust me as an expert on many topics. On the other, I don’t have the academic credentials to speak as an “expert” on gender, even when that gender is my own. The fields of women’s and gender studies are not universally open to trans perspectives on gender. However, cissexual gender theorists are...

    • 3 Trans. Panic. Some Thoughts toward a Theory of Feminist Fundamentalism
      (pp. 45-59)

      As I sat down over the first few months of writing this chapter, some of those months overlapped with one of the longest, most devastating academic strikes taking place at my university. One of York University’s largest unions representing casualized academic labor—graduate teaching assistants, contract faculty, and research assistants—held a strike that lasted almost three months. It is now a substantial period of time past the day that local union CUPE3903 was legislated back to work and we all resumed something of the extended academic session to complete that school year. The university senate suspended all classes for...

    • 4 The Education of Little Cis: Cisgender and the Discipline of Opposing Bodies
      (pp. 60-78)
      A. FINN ENKE

      Things change when a neologism moves from a social movement context to a classroom context. On one hand, our ability to keep classrooms relevant depends on this movement, this perspectival and practical exchange between academic and activist worlds. And theorizations that take place in the classroom can provide sustaining energy to social concerns. On the other hand, meanings do change when words cross from one medium to another. Academic contexts—perhaps a bit slow on the uptake—can simplify, ossify, and discipline otherwise queer terminologies while authorizing, legitimating, and institutionalizing their use.

      The neologism “cisgender” has long been associated with...

  7. PART II Categorical Insufficiencies and “Impossible People”

    • 5 College Transitions: Recommended Policies for Tran Students and Employees
      (pp. 81-97)

      During the last two decades, U.S. media have run exposés on anti-LGBT harassment’s devastating consequences, including the murders of Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepard and the spate of youths who were bullied to the point of killing themselves in 2010.¹ After twenty years, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has supported calls to reduce bullying in schools. The office asserted that harassment based on perceived gender or sexual orientation violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, because such harassment includes sex-stereotyping that constitutes sex discrimination.² Framing LGBT harassment as discriminatory sex-stereotyping opens the way for...

    • 6 “Ain’t I a Woman?”: Transgender and Intersex Student Athlets in Women’s Collegiate Sports
      (pp. 98-111)

      The title of this chapter is borrowed from Sojourner Truth’s powerful demand that white feminist abolitionists in the nineteenth century expand their awareness to include the needs of black women in their fight for race and sex equality. Her question, “Ain’t I a Woman,” seems fitting for the twenty-first century also with regard to the inclusion in women’s sports of transgender women and men and women who have intersex conditions. Increasing numbers of athletes who are transgender or have intersex conditions are challenging gender boundaries in sports as they insist on their right to participate according to their self-affirmed genders....

    • 7 Training Disservice: The Productive Potential and Structural Limitations of Health as a Terrain for Trans Activism
      (pp. 112-132)

      This essay focuses on health-provider trainings and their relationship to activism around transgender health. Sometimes referred to as “Trans 101,” “Transgender Health,” or “Transgender Awareness” trainings, these provider trainings are often delivered to health-professional students or as continuing education to health-care providers.¹ I aim to show that although transgender health activism is a productive and necessary site of activism within transgender and gender-nonconforming communities, the over-reliance on provider trainings actually limits the potential and reach of the trainings themselves as well as of trans health activism and advocacy broadly. I also highlight the opportunities that transgender health advocates have to...

    • 8 Transnational Transgender Rights and Immigration Law
      (pp. 133-150)

      On a panel called Queer Necropolitics at the American Anthropological Association meeting in 2009, Sima Shakhsari related the story of Naz, a trans woman from Iran who was featured in a number of documentaries about transsexuality in Iran. In the global North, recent media attention to the situation of trans people in Iran has anxiously deliberated on the visibility of their “suffering.” The symptoms of this suffering may include social and familial repudiation, difficulty finding work, and the seemingly odd juxtaposition of a sympathetic medical establishment and government that, simultaneously, imprison gays and lesbians. Such media portrayals explicitly beg a...

  8. PART III Valuing Subjects:: Toward Unexpected Alliances

    • 9 Elusive Subjects: Notes on the Relationship between Critical Political Economy and Trans Studies
      (pp. 153-169)

      As I elaborated a definition of neoliberalism to my Transgender Human Rights class, a student asked bluntly, “What does the economy have to do with trans rights?” Her classmates sat up with rapt attention, anxiously awaiting the answer. I responded by uttering a single word: “everything.” I wish my tone had been more even to articulate the importance of considering political economy when theorizing trans identities and politics. It was not. Instead, the word reflected exasperation and trailed off. If the answer to her question was obvious, a single word answer may have been persuasive; however, the question begs a...

    • 10 Reclaiming Femininity
      (pp. 170-183)

      Over the last few years, my femme identity has very much informed the way that I relate to myself as a trans woman, as a queer woman, and as a feminist more generally. If you were to ask a hundred different femmes to define the word “femme,” you would probably get a hundred different answers. Having said this, most femmes would no doubt agree that an important, if not central, aspect of femme identity involves reclaiming feminine gender expression, or “femininity.” It is commonplace for people in the straight mainstream as well as within our queer and feminist circles to...

    • 11 What’s Wrong with Trans Rights?
      (pp. 184-194)

      As the concept of trans rights has gained more currency in the last two decades, a seeming consensus has emerged about which law reforms should be sought to better the lives of trans people.¹ Advocates of trans equality have primarily pursued two law-reform interventions: antidiscrimination laws that list gender identity and/or expression as a category of nondiscrimination, and hate-crime laws that include crimes motivated by the gender identity and/or expression of the victim as triggering the application of a jurisdiction’s hate-crime statute. Organizations like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) have supported state and local organizations around the...

    • 12 When Something Is Not Right
      (pp. 195-202)

      Anyone can be trans, or an activist, but to be on the Roadshow, you had better do a good Elvis. Jamez is an ex-Alaskan dog-musher/current Harvard Divinity student who plays the violin and recites poetry in a shaggy lion costume with floppy yarn mane. Kelly is a social worker and zine librarian who resembles nothing so much as a four-foot-ten Chuck Norris–channeling Hunter S. Thompson. When Red’s not singing to straight hipsters about how irritating they are, she’s a professional chef who rhapsodizes about the perfect gravy, homemade mayonnaise. Oh, and she has about a million viewers who follow...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 203-232)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-248)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 249-252)
  12. Index
    (pp. 253-260)