Since the late twentieth century, scholars and activists have begun to take stock of the deep histories and politically engaged nature of trans* cultures across the diverse societies of “Asia.” Much of this groundbreaking work has cautioned against immediate assumptions about the universality of transgender experiences, while heeding the significant influence of colonial histories, cultural imperialism, Cold War dynamics, economic integration, and migration practices in shaping local categories of queerness, discourses of rights, as well as the political, social, and medical management of gender variance and non-normative sexualities. This growing body of work on Asia joins trans* scholarship and activism across the world that has similarly sought to de-universalize and de-colonize the category of “trans.”
Also keep an eye out for these forthcoming books:
In Trans Exploits, out this January, Jian Neo Chen explores the cultural practices created by trans and gender nonconforming artists and activists of color. They argue for a radical rethinking of the policies and technologies of racial gendering and assimilative social programming that have divided LGBT communities and communities of color along the lines of gender, sexuality, class, immigration status, and ability. Focusing on performance, film/video, literature, digital media, and other forms of cultural expression and activism that track the displaced emergences of trans people of color, Chen highlights the complex and varied responses by trans communities to their social dispossession.
Aren Z. Aizura’s Mobile Subjects, coming this November, examines transgender narratives within global health and tourism economies from 1952 to the present. Drawing on an archive of trans memoirs and documentaries as well as ethnographic fieldwork with trans people obtaining gender reassignment surgery in Thailand, Aizura maps the uneven use of medical protocols to show how national and regional health care systems and labor economies contribute to and limit transnational mobility.