Transgender studies

A subfield of LGBT studies, transgender studies provides an interdisciplinary approach to gender studies, gay and lesbian studies, and sexology by studying the intersections of sex and gender as related to cultural representations, lived experience, and political movements.[1] Interdisciplinary subfields of transgender studies include transgender history, transgender literature and film, 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 the 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, 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]

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 onwards. Columbia University Press published, in February 2019, "the first introductory textbook intended for transgender/trans studies at the undergraduate level" by Ardel Haefele-Thomas.[16]

Digital trans studiesEdit

There is also a growing body of work dealing with technology and trans identity. Similar to the field of queer internet studies which in 2018 had an issue of FirstMonday dedicated to it,[17] digital trans studies is concerned with the many ways trans people use the internet and other technologies for their identity- and community-building practices. This interdisciplinary subfield contains work by scholars from technical fields such as HCI as well as more media-focused backgrounds. The subfield, like trans studies more broadly, appears to be growing with one list[18] of digital trans works noting a jump from nine relevant works in 2016 to twenty-one in 2017.

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.[19] 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" .[19] 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.[19]

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.[20]

Susan Stryker's anthology The Transgender Studies Reader (2006) was awarded the Lambda Literary Award in the transgender category.[21]

In 2016, Aaron Devor was appointed the inaugural chair of Transgender Studies at the University of Victoria, in Canada.[22] Devor is the academic director of the Transgender Archives, one of world's largest collections on the history of transgender activists and research.[23]

CeCe McDonald CaseEdit

CeCe McDonald was sent to prison after defending herself and her friends from an attacker. The attack consisted of shouting transphobic and racist terms before it took a physical turn.[24] 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.[24]

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.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.CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of gender and society. O'Brien, Jodi. London: SAGE. 2009. p. 849. ISBN 9781412909167. OCLC 811563770.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. ^ "Introduction to Transgender Studies | Columbia University Press". Columbia University Press. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  17. ^ "Volume 23, Number 7 - 2 July 2018". Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  18. ^ Haimson, Oliver. "Digital Trans Reading List". Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Drabinski, Kate. "Identity matters: teaching transgender in the women's studies classroom". Radical Teacher. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  21. ^ "19th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. 2006-04-30. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  22. ^ "Sociologist Becomes Inaugural Chair in Transgender Studies". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2016-02-14. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  23. ^ "Who we are - University of Victoria". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  24. ^ 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.