Transgender studies

Transgender studies, also called trans studies or trans* studies, is an interdisciplinary field of academic research dedicated to the study of gender identity, gender expression, and gender embodiment, as well as to the study of various issues of relevance to transgender and gender variant populations.[1] Interdisciplinary subfields of transgender studies include applied transgender studies, transgender history, transgender literature, transgender media studies, transgender anthropology and archaeology, transgender psychology, and transgender health. The research theories within transgender studies focuses on cultural presentations, political movements, social organizations and the lived experience of various forms of gender nonconformity.[2] The discipline emerged in the early 1990s in close connection to queer theory.[3] Non-transgender-identified peoples are often also included under the "trans" umbrella for transgender studies, such as intersex people, crossdressers, drag artists, third gender individuals and genderqueer people.

The transgender studies provide responses to negative points of views about transgender people. Those negatives misconceptions could be the narrow and inaccurate transgender state in psychology and medicine, etc.[4] The ultimate goal of transgender studies is to provide knowledge that will benefit transgender people and communities.[5]


In response to critiques of how transgender issues were represented in gender and gay and lesbian studies, the late 1990s saw an increase in transgender scholarship and the emergence of a specific discipline of academic study.[6] Sandy Stone is a transgender woman whose essay, titled "The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto", and published in 1987 in response to the anti-transsexual book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male, has been cited as the origin of transgender studies.[7] At times a contested field, scholars in transgender studies argue that what positions transgender studies as a unique discipline is the way trans bodies are centered epistemologically in the discipline.[8]

In 2016, through her foundation, Jennifer Pritzker gave a donation of 2 million US$ to create the world's first endowed academic chair of transgender studies, at the University of Victoria in British Columbia; Aaron Devor was chosen as the inaugural chair.[9]

Notable worksEdit

Notable works dealing with transgender issues sometimes bridge the space between memoir, creative piece and critical work. Transgender fiction and non-fiction are often informed by the personal experiences of the authors and various transgender authors have written pieces important for the field of trans studies that were not strictly speaking critical scholarship. Some of these works include Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano (about the experience of and sexist basis for transmisogyny), Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg (a novel about the complicated overlaps and tensions between butch lesbian and trans masculine identities and communities), Janet Mock's Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More (a memoir detailing Mock's experience growing up within intersecting marginalized race, class and gender categories), and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (a coming-of-age novel based on Eugenides's experience growing up).

Other important transgender studies texts are more firmly theoretical or critical. Judith Butler, whose work is important for queer studies more broadly, was influential in the field of transgender studies specifically for the formulation of the theory of gender performativity that is the basis for genderqueer activism and theorization.[10] Jack Halberstam is another key figure in transgender studies. Halberstam's work deals with female masculinity, the concept of "queer failure" and various theorizations of trans or gender variant embodiment and temporality. Paul B. Preciado's Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era is considered "autotheory" and intertwines personal and cultural histories of clinical hormone therapies with political histories of hormonal birth control, and performance enhancing testosterone use.

Academic journals devoted to transgender studies began with the International Journal of Transgenderism, which published its first issue in 1997. The next year saw the publication of a special issue of Gay and Lesbian Quarterly (GLQ) on transgender topics.[11] Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People by Viviane K. Namaste was published in 2000 and was "the first scholarly study of transgendered people."[12] Transgender Studies Quarterly (TSQ), the first non-medical academic journal devoted to transgender issues, began publication in 2014 with Susan Stryker and Paisley Currah as coeditors.[13] The first issue, "Postposttranssexual: Key Concepts for a Twenty-First-Century Transgender Studies",[14] was a book-length double issue with over 85 short essays on various keywords related to the growing field of transgender studies. Some essays took key terms from other fields (such as "Capital", "Queer", "Disability" and "Postmodernism") and teased out the connections to transgender activist and academic thought. Other essays took words understood as important for transgender studies and discussed their theoretical histories and potential future paths ("Becoming", "Cisgender", "Identity", "Transition" and others). Since 2014, TSQ has had issues devoted to, among other topics: Archives and Archiving, Trans/Feminisms, Transpsychoanalytics, and Blackness.[15] On August 2, 2021, the Center for Applied Transgender Studies announced the launch of its flagship publication, the platinum open access peer-reviewed academic journal Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies, published by Northwestern University Libraries.[16][17][18] The Bulletin is the first open access journal dedicated to transgender studies and the first journal dedicated to empirical research on transgender social, cultural, and political issues.[19]

Recently books have been published on the important intersection of race, nationalism and transgender identity including Susan Faludi's memoir "In The Dark Room" about her Hungarian Jewish father's transition at the age of 76 and C. Riley Snorton’s Black on Both Sides which explains the co-constitutive histories of blackness/anti-blackness and transness/transphobia in America from the 19th century onward. Columbia University Press published, in February 2019, "the first introductory textbook intended for transgender/trans studies at the undergraduate level" by Ardel Haefele-Thomas.[20]

Applied transgender studiesEdit

Recent scholarship in transgender studies has pushed against the field's primary emphasis on humanistic inquiry, instead centering scholarship that empirically investigates issues of social, cultural, and political significance to transgender and gender minority people globally.[21][22][23][24][25] This emergent subfield of "applied transgender studies" conceives of itself as "an interdisciplinary endeavor to identify, analyze, and, ultimately, improve the material conditions transgender people face in daily life."[22] The Center for Applied Transgender Studies in Chicago, Illinois has been the primary driver of the turn to applied transgender studies and it publishes the only academic journal dedicated to the area of study, the Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies.[17][26][27][28][29]

Teaching transgender studiesEdit

Sara E. Cooper (Professor of Spanish and Women Studies) applied for a teaching position at California State University at Chico and she received the job, in spite of her focus on Spanish studies.[30] She writes a journal article that highlights the ridicule she sometimes received during her public speeches, but insists on educating her peers "as a matter of personal safety and respect".[30] Cooper brings up how the LGBTQ community is not as supportive towards certain categories in their community as some of her students are led to believe and while she faced a few challenges in her career, she concludes that teaching Transgender Studies was ultimately life-changing.[30]

Cooper's specialization was initially Women Studies, and from there, she was granted the authority over a course that is exclusive to the LGTBQ community. This mirrors the placement of Transgender Studies within the school curriculum. In Women Studies classes, transgender issues are sometimes taught as an extension of women's issues, and are rarely given attention on their own.[31]

Susan Stryker's anthology The Transgender Studies Reader (2006) was awarded the Lambda Literary Award in the transgender category.[32]

In 2016, Aaron Devor was appointed the inaugural chair of Transgender Studies at the University of Victoria, in Canada.[33] Devor is the academic director of the Transgender Archives, one of world's largest collections on the history of transgender activists and research.[34]

CeCe McDonald CaseEdit

CeCe McDonald was sent to prison after defending herself and her friends from an attacker.[35][36] The attack consisted of shouting transphobic and racist terms before it took a physical turn.[37] The issue of cisgender privilege arises when CeCe was the only one who was charged; additionally, the case can be analyzed through an intersectional lens due to the racist and cissexist nature of the attack.[37]

Notable figuresEdit

Selected bibliographyEdit


  • Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies (2021–present) ISSN 2769-2124.
  • International Journal of Transgender Health (1998–present; until 2020, titled International Journal of Transgenderism) ISSN 1553-2739.
  • Transgender Health (2016–present) ISSN 2688-4887.
  • TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly (2014–present) ISSN 2328-9252.


  • Beemyn, G., & Goldberg, A. (2021). (Eds.), The SAGE encyclopedia of trans studies. SAGE. ISBN 978-1-5443-9381-0.
  • Beemyn, G, & Rankin, S. (2011). The lives of transgender people. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-2311-4307-3.
  • Bey, M. (2022). Black trans feminism. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-1-4780-1781-3.
  • Brubaker, R. (2017). Trans: Gender and race in an age of unsettled identities. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-6911-7235-4.
  • Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of sex. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-4156-1015-5.
  • Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-38955-0.
  • Chiang, H. (Ed.) (2012). Transgender China. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-2303-4062-6.
  • Chu, A. L. (2019). Females. Verso. ISBN 978-1-7887-3737-1.
  • Currah, P. (2022). Sex is as sex does: Governing transgender identity. New York University Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-1710-3.
  • Currah, P., Juang, R. M., & Minter, S. P. (Eds.) (2006). Transgender rights. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-4312-7.
  • Davis, H. F. (2017). Beyond trans: Does gender matter? New York University Press. ISBN 978-1-4798-5540-7.
  • Erickson-Schroth, L. (Ed.) (2014). Trans bodies, trans selves: A resource for the transgender community. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-1993-2535-1.
  • Feinberg, L. (1992). Transgender liberation: A movement whose time has come. World View Forum. ISBN 0-8956-7105-0.
  • Gill-Peterson, J. (2018). Histories of the transgender child. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-1-5179-0466-1.
  • Gleeson, J. J., & O’Rourke, E. (2021). Transgender Marxism. Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0-7453-4166-8.
  • Halberstam, J. (2018). Trans*: A quick and quirky account of gender variance. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-5202-9269-7.
  • Halberstam, J. (2011). The queer art of failure. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-5045-3.
  • Halberstam, J. (2005). In a queer time and place: Transgender bodies, subcultural lives. New York University Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-3585-5.
  • Halberstam, J. (1998). Female masculinity. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-2243-6.
  • Malatino, H. (2022). Side affects: On being trans and feeling bad. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-1-5179-1209-3.
  • Malatino, H. (2020). Trans care. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-1-5179-1118-8.
  • Meyerowitz, J. J. (2002). How sex changed: A history of transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-6740-1379-7.
  • Namaste, V. (2000). Invisible lives: The erasure of transsexual and transgendered people. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-2265-6810-2.
  • Prosser, J. (1998). Second skins: The body narratives of transsexuality. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-2311-0935-2.
  • Ryan, J. M. (Ed.) (2021). Trans lives in a globalizing world: Rights, identities and politics. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-3671-9334-8.
  • Serano, J. (2007). Whipping girl: A transsexual woman on sexism and the scapegoating of femininity. Seal Press. ISBN 978-1-5800-5622-9.
  • Snorton, C. R. (2017). Black on both sides: A racial history of trans identity. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-1-5179-0173-8.
  • Spade, D. (2011). Normal life: Administrative violence, critical trans politics and the limits of law. South End Press. ISBN 978-0-8960-8796-5.
  • Stryker, S. (2008). Transgender history. Seal Press. ISBN 978-0-7867-4136-6.
  • Stryker, S., & Aizura, A. (Eds.) (2013). The transgender studies reader 2. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-4155-1773-7.
  • Stryker, S., & Whittle, S. (Eds.) (2006). The transgender studies reader. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-4159-4709-1.
  • Tourmaline, Stanley, E. A., & Burton, J. (Eds.) (2017). Trap door: Trans cultural production and the politics of visibility. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-2620-3660-3.
  • Valentine, D. (2007). Imagining transgender: An ethnography of a category. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-3869-7.

Articles, chapters, and essaysEdit

  • Adair, C. (2019). Licensing citizenship: Anti-Blackness, identification documents, and transgender studies. American Quarterly, 71(2), 569-594. doi:10.1353/aq.2019.0043.
  • Bettcher, T. M. (2009). Evil deceivers and make-believers: On transphobic violence and the politics of illusion. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, 22(3), 43–65. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.2007.tb01090.x.
  • Bey, M. (2017). The trans*-ness of Blackness, the Blackness of trans*-ness. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 4(2), 275–295. doi:10.1215/23289252-3815069.
  • Billard, T. J. (2019). “Passing” and the politics of deception: Transgender bodies, cisgender aesthetics, and the policing of inconspicuous marginal identities. In T. Docan-Morgan (Ed.), The Palgrave handbook of deceptive communication (pp. 463–477). Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-96334-1_24.
  • Billard, T. J., & Zhang, E. (2022). Toward a transgender critique of media representation. Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, 61(2), 194–199. doi:10.1353/cj.2022.0005
  • Chaudhry, V. V. (2020). On trans dissemblance: Or, why trans studies needs black feminism. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 45(3), 529–535. doi:10.1086/706466.
  • Chu, A. L., & Drager, E. H. (2019). After trans studies. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 6(1), 103–116. doi:10.1215/23289252-7253524.
  • Green, K. M. (2016). Troubling the waters: Mobilizing a trans* analytic. In E. P. Johnson (Ed.), No tea, no shade: New writings in Black queer studies (pp. 65-82). Duke University Press.
  • Green, K. M., & Bey, M. (2017). Where Black feminist thought and trans* feminism meet. Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, 19(4), 438–454. doi:10.1080/10999949.2018.1434365.
  • Johnson, A. H. (2016). Transnormativity: A new concept and its validation through documentary film about transgender men. Sociological Inquiry, 86(4), 465–491. doi:10.1111/soin.12127.
  • Keegan, C. M. (2020). Getting disciplined: What's trans* about queer studies now? Journal of Homosexuality, 67(3), 384–397. doi:10.1080/00918369.2018.1530885.
  • Keegan, C. M. (2020). Transgender studies, or how to do things with trans*. In S. B. Somerville (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to queer studies (pp. 66–78). Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108699396.006.
  • Koyama, E. (2006). Whose feminism is it anyway? The unspoken racism of the trans inclusion debate. In S. Stryker and S. Whittle (Eds.), The transgender studies reader (pp. 698-705). Routledge.
  • Namaste, V. (2009). Undoing theory: The ‘transgender question’ and the epistemic violence of Anglo‐American feminist theory. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, 24(3), 11–32. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.2009.01043.x.
  • Snorton, C. R., & Haritaworn, J. (2013). Trans necropolitics. In A. Aizura and S. Stryker (Eds.), The transgender studies reader 2 (pp. 66–76). Routledge.
  • Stone, S. (1992). The Empire strikes back: A posttranssexual manifesto. Camera Obscura, 10(2), 150–176. doi:10.1215/02705346-10-2_29-150.
  • Stryker, S. (2004). Transgender studies: Queer theory’s evil twin. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 10(2), 212–215. doi:10.1215/10642684-10-2-212.
  • Stryker, S. (1994). My words to Victor Frankenstein above the village of Chamounix: Performing transgender rage. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 1(3), 237–254. doi:10.1215/10642684-1-3-237.
  • Towle, E. B., & Morgan, L. M. (2002). Romancing the transgender native: Rethinking the use of the "third gender" concept. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 8(4), 469–497. doi:10.1215/10642684-8-4-469.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ O'Brien, Jodi (2009). Encyclopedia of Gender and Society. doi:10.4135/9781412964517. ISBN 9781412909167.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of gender and society. O'Brien, Jodi. London: SAGE. 2009. p. 848. ISBN 9781412909167. OCLC 811563770.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ "'Transgender Studies and Feminism: Theory, Politics, and Gendered Realitie" (PDF). Hypatia. 24 (3). 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-05-28.
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of gender and society. O'Brien, Jodi. London: SAGE. 2009. ISBN 9781412909167. OCLC 811563770.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of gender and society. O'Brien, Jodi. London: SAGE. 2009. p. 849. ISBN 9781412909167. OCLC 811563770.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ "1998 Transgender Scholarship Proliferates". Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Events. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press. 2007. pp. 650–651. ISBN 978-1-58765-265-3.
  7. ^ "24 Americans Who Changed The Way We Think About Transgender Rights". Buzzfeed. July 12, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  8. ^ Bryant, Karl (2009). "Transgender Studies". Encyclopedia of Gender and Society. doi:10.4135/9781412964517.n425. ISBN 9781412909167.
  9. ^ "Jennifer Pritzker's Foundation Gives $2 Million for Transgender Studies at Canadian University". Tablet Magazine. 2016-01-21.
  10. ^ "Think Gender Is Performance? You Have Judith Butler to Thank for That". The Cut. 2016-06-21. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  11. ^ "GLQ 4". Duke University Press. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  12. ^ Invisible Lives.
  13. ^ "Duke Univ. Press Debuts Academic Journal for Transgender Studies". 2014-05-27.
  14. ^ "Volume 1 Issue 1-2 | TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly | Duke University Press". Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  15. ^ "TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly | Duke University Press". Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  16. ^ "The Center for Applied Transgender Studies is proud to announce the launch of its flagship journal, the Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies". Center for Applied Transgender Studies. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  17. ^ a b "About the Journal". Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  18. ^ "Publications". Center for Applied Transgender Studies. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  19. ^ "Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies". Society for Social Studies of Science. 2022-01-17. Retrieved 2022-04-03.
  20. ^ "Introduction to Transgender Studies | Columbia University Press". Columbia University Press. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  21. ^ Johnson, Austin H.; Rogers, Baker A.; Taylor, Tiffany (2021-11-19), Johnson, Austin H.; Rogers, Baker A.; Taylor, Tiffany (eds.), "Conclusion: The Empirical Turn in Transgender Studies", Advances in Gender Research, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 223–225, doi:10.1108/s1529-212620210000032015, ISBN 978-1-80262-030-6, S2CID 239965509, retrieved 2022-04-04
  22. ^ a b Billard, Thomas J (2020-12-17). "On Fitting in the Field: The Place of Social Science in Trans Studies". TSQ*Now. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  23. ^ "Applied Transgender Studies: A Call to Action". YouTube. 2021-05-25.
  24. ^ "Applied Trans Technology Studies Symposium". YouTube. 2022-01-25.
  25. ^ Johnson, Austin H (2022-03-18). "Applying Trans Studies, Building Structural Competency". YouTube.
  26. ^ "Center for Applied Transgender Studies". Center for Applied Transgender Studies. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  27. ^ Cherney, Elyssa. "New transgender studies center in Chicago aims to combat misinformation and lack of trans-led research". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  28. ^ Perry, Joshua (2021-05-20). "Northwestern academics co-found Center for Applied Transgender Studies". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  29. ^ "Making Space for Advocacy". Dialogue Magazine. Retrieved 2022-04-04.
  30. ^ a b c Cooper, Sara; Connor James Trebra (2006). "Teaching Transgender in Women's Studies: Snarls and Strategies". Journal of Lesbian Studies. 10 (1/2): 151–180. doi:10.1300/j155v10n01_08. PMID 16873219. S2CID 21587482.
  31. ^ Drabinski, Kate. "Identity matters: teaching transgender in the women's studies classroom". Radical Teacher. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  32. ^ "19th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. 2006-04-30. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  33. ^ "Sociologist Becomes Inaugural Chair in Transgender Studies". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2016-02-14. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  34. ^ "Who we are - University of Victoria". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  35. ^ "The Transgender Crucible". Rolling Stone. 30 July 2014.
  36. ^ "Transgender Activist CeCe McDonald Released from Prison". ABC News.
  37. ^ a b Johnson, Julia R. (May 2013). "Cisgender Privilege, Intersectionality, and the Criminalization of CeCe McDonald: Why Intercultural Communication Needs Transgender Studies". Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. 6 (2): 135–144. doi:10.1080/17513057.2013.776094. S2CID 143462581.