Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. In solidarity, we’d like to share some of our scholarship on gender identity and sexuality.
In Legendary, Gerard H. Gaskin’s radiant color and black-and-white photographs take us inside the culture of house balls: underground events where gay and transgender men and women, mostly African American and Latino, come together to see and be seen. In this exuberant world of artistry and self-fashioning, people often marginalized for being who they are can flaunt and celebrate their most vibrant, spectacular selves.
When imagined in relation to other regions of the United States, the Midwest is often positioned as the norm, the uncontested site of white American middle-class heteronormativity. A growing body of recent queer work on rural sexualities, transnational migration, regional identities, and working-class culture suggests the need to understand the Midwest otherwise. “Queering the Middle,” an issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, offers an opportunity to think with, through, and against the idea of region. The introduction is freely available.
“Postposttransexual,” the inaugural issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, takes on such topics as biopolitics, disability, political economy, childhood, trans-of-color critique, area studies, translation, pathologization, the state, and animal studies. The issue, which is freely available until November, serves as a primer for readers encountering transgender studies for the first time.
In Normal Life, Dean Spade critiques the legal equality framework for social change and points to examples of transformative grassroots trans activism that is raising demands that go beyond traditional civil rights reforms. Spade explodes assumptions about what legal rights can do for marginalized populations, and describes transformative resistance processes and formations that address the root causes of harm and violence.
Grounded in a wealth of archival material, Arresting Dress traces the career of anti-cross-dressing laws from municipal courtrooms and codebooks to newspaper scandals, vaudevillian theater, freak-show performances, and commercial “slumming tours.” It also tells the story of the tenacity of those who defied the law, spoke out when sentenced, and articulated different gender possibilities.
Imagining Transgender is an ethnography of the emergence and institutionalization of “transgender” as a category of collective identity and political activism. David Valentine argues that a broad vision of social justice must include an attentiveness to the politics of language and a recognition of how social theoretical models and broader political economies are embedded in the day-to-day politics of identity.
Contributors to two issues of Radical History Review, “Queering Archives: Historical Unravellings” and “Queering Archives: Intimate Tracings,” consider historical materials from queer archives around the world, as well as the recent practice of “queering” the archive by looking at historical collections for queer content (and its absence). Read the introduction to “Historical Unravellings” and the introduction to “Intimate Tracings,” both freely available.
In Professing Selves, Afsaneh Najmabadi explores the meaning of transsexuality in contemporary Iran. Combining historical and ethnographic research, she describes how, in the postrevolutionary era, the domains of law, psychology and psychiatry, Islamic jurisprudence, and biomedicine became invested in distinguishing between the acceptable “true” transsexual and other categories of identification, notably the “true” homosexual, an unacceptable category of existence in Iran.