A one-day symposium presented by The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society – LGBTQ Citizenship Cluster, Center for the Study of Sexual Culture, and Department of Gender & Women’s Studies.

What are the objects and inquiries of contemporary Transgender Studies? Explore the state of the field in this one-day symposium featuring a new generation of emerging transgender studies scholars speaking on such topics as experimental method, the place of surgery, environment, and citizenship. The talks will be paired with responses by UC faculty.

PANEL ONE – 10am to 12pm

Queer Lovers, Hateful Others, and Injured Trans People: Queer Regenerations of Race, Space and the Urban Environment
Jinthana K. Haritaworn, Environmental Studies, York University w/ Paola Bacchetta as respondent (Gender & Women’s Studies, UCB)

What kinds of queer regenerations are possible within the rapidly changing environment of the gentrifying inner city? What bodies and intimacies are vitalized through the globalizing moral panics over homo/transphobic Black and brown people, who form the constitutive outside of the newly queer-friendly community? Breaking with a western tradition of punishing, pathologizing and concealing queer intimacy, gay kisses have recently begun to come out in public. These coming outs occur in a fertile racialized terrain and are neither universal nor incidental: while some sexually and gender non-conforming bodies emerge as deserving of protection in the inner city, low-income racialized bodies are erasable regardless, albeit in gender and sexually specific ways. This lecture traces valuable and pathological queer and trans bodies through queer/friendly counter/publics in Berlin – a site of queer migration and capital investment whose geopolitical and biopolitical configurations are increasingly transnational. Besides as kissing, ‘queer’ bodies are also visibilized and valorized as injured. The spectacular vulnerability required to humanize the homonormative subject ironically enables transgender actors to enter a bigger stage for the first time. This lecture interrogates how the transnormative subject in Berlin has emerged as a victim subject worthy of protection and coalition in the co-presence of Queer Lovers and Hateful Others (Haritaworn 2015).

Trans- Surgery Matters
Eric Plemons, Anthropology, University of Michigan w/ Marcia Ochoa as respondent (Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz)

In the essay typically thought to mark the emergence of trans-studies, Sandy Stone advocated a refusal of the medical—and especially surgical—narratives that had long dominated discourses on trans-bodies and lives. This refusal has become somewhat of a political imperative: we don’t talk about surgery. While undoubtedly supporting one kind of social good—witness Laverne Cox’s much lauded recent appearance on The Katie Couric show—politically-oriented refusals to talk about trans- surgery contribute to a general lack of knowledge about what surgeons are doing in operating rooms across the US and around the world when they work to “change sex.” In this talk Plemons draws on his ethnographic work with trans- surgical specialists to argue for a robust and sustained engagement with surgery in trans- studies—not as an ideal or as a foil, but as a collection of ongoing and situated practices that literally give shape to the bodies that many trans- people desire and come to inhabit.

PANEL TWO 2pm – 4pm

Jorgensen’s Shadows
C. Riley Snorton, Communication Studies, Northwestern University w/ Juana Maria Rodriguez as respondent (Gender & Women’s Studies, UCB)

While numerous scholars have written about the implications of Christine Jorgensen’s rise to celebrity in the early 1950s, suggesting that Jorgensen’s visibility ignited a public discussion about science and sexuality in postwar America, Snorton turns to a series of media stories circulating primarily in the black press to provide a textured account of how blackness and transness are enacted upon in order to work through what it means to be(come) “American” in the mid-20th century. While this talk examines the appearance and disappearance of figures, such as Lucy Anderson Hicks, James McHarris, and Georgia Black from public conversations leading up to and in the wake of the atomic bomb, the Korean War, and the “red scare,” African American shake dancer Carlett Brown takes center stage. In 1953, Brown renounced her US citizenship in order to receive sexual reassignment surgery from Jorgensen’s Europe-based surgeon only to be detained by the state for owed taxes. By juxtaposing Jorgensen and Brown, this talk opens different lines of inquiry for examining postwar fascinations with transsexual bodies, figuring Brown at the center of questions of national identity, race, sexuality, gender, class and performance.

Reframing Agnes
Kristen Schilt, Sociology, University of Chicago and Chase Joynt, Visiting Artist, University of Chicago w/ Raka Ray as respondent (Sociology, UCB)

This paper results from a year-long collaboration between an artist and an academic. In 2013-2014, Joynt, a multi-media artist, and Schilt, a professor of sociology, have done a series of installations and screenings that focus on the authority of narrative construction and attempts at queer collaboration, with specific focus on transgender identities. At the center of this work is the 1967 case study of Agnes. Broadly understood as the first modern case study of a transgender person in sociology, the mythology and folklore surrounding Agnes – as both a person and an idea – has been taken up by social scientists, queer theorists, and trans scholars alike. Joynt and Schilt utilize this case to interrogate methods of public authority by placing Schilt’s sociological methods in conversation with Joynt’s artistic interventions. This hybridized and experimental paper is the first step in this endeavor. They draw on archival documents, analysis of case studies, and personal experiences and history.

Event sponsored by: The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society – LGBTQ Citizenship Cluster, the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture, and the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies – Chau Hoi Shuen Program in Gender and Science

Co-sponsored by: The Center for Race and Gender, Berkeley Law

This event is free and open to the public.