Christina Quarles, Grounded By Tha Side of Yew, 2017

Trans/Queer/Woman: Theory and Politics

Instructor: Sophie Lewis
Bureau of General Services—Queer Division
208 West 13th Street, #210
New York, NY 10011

Transfeminine lives are often seen as having, in and of themselves, political consequences, theoretical limits, and some kind of relation to a ‘beyond’ of gender. While former sports celebrity Caitlyn Jenner has come to stand for the notion that ‘transgender’ is now a “respectable” identity, Olympic gold-star medalist Caster Semenya, despite not being transgender, is now caught up in a fraught and ugly fracas over the question of “what is a woman?” Some debates within both feminist and queer thought ask: How stable is the LGBTQ acronym as a concept? While some strains of feminism seek to exclude trans lives from a definition of womanhood on the grounds of “gender realism,” others explicitly reject any kind of gender naturalization. Similarly, some openly apolitical or conservative ‘queer’ and gay rights discourses question whether trans lives fit within a program of assimilation and advancement, while others claim that a structural transsexuality lies at the center of a politically-charged “gay communism” that unites queer theory with a critique of capitalism. In this context, theorists continue to differ on matters such as: the continued relevance of “queer” as a rubric, the utility of the figure of the “post-transsexual”; and the relation of trans embodiment to normativity, gender nonconformity, and the gender binary. Some have announced (already!) “the end of trans studies.” How can we understand, parse, and adjudicate these conflicting and overlapping questions?

In this course, we will read treatments of these questions by (predominantly) trans and intersex philosophers, exploring, discussing and weighing a variety of dissenting opinions on trans gender ontology, epistemology, and liberation. What do ‘trans’ and ‘queer’ have to do with (and to) each other as rubrics? What has trans feminism been, and what might it be? What are the consequences of abstracting “trans”? Readings will include texts by Susan Stryker, Emi Koyama, Julia Serano, Jules Joanne Gleeson, Joni Cohen, Mario Mieli, Andrea Long Chu, Vivian K Namaste, Treva Ellison, Jack Halberstam, Jordy Rosenberg, and Marissa Brostoff, among others.

The Bureau of General Services—Queer Division is an independent, all-volunteer queer cultural center, bookstore, and event space hosted by The LGBT Community Center in Manhattan.

Course Schedule

Wednesday, 6:30-9:30pm
July 10 — July 31, 2019
4 weeks


Registration Open

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