Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Studies

National Coming Out Day: New Books in LGBTQ Studies

Today is the 29th annual National Coming Out Day, a celebration of the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. We’re happy to contribute to the occasion by sharing our newest scholarship in LGBTQ and sexuality studies.

978-0-8223-6914-1Developed in the United States in the 1980s, facial feminization surgery (FFS) is a set of bone and soft tissue reconstructive surgical procedures intended to feminize the faces of trans- women. In The Look of a Woman Eric Plemons foregrounds the narratives of FFS patients and their surgeons as they move from consultation and the operating room to postsurgery recovery. He shows how the increasing popularity of FFS represents a shift away from genital-based conceptions of trans- selfhood in ways that mirror the evolving views of what is considered to be good trans- medicine.

art1In the 1970s a group of pioneering feminist and queer entrepreneurs launched a movement that ultimately changed the way sex was talked about, had, and enjoyed. In Vibrator Nation Lynn Comella tells the fascinating history of how feminist sex-toy stores raised sexual consciousness, redefined the adult industry, and changed women’s lives. Comella describes a world where sex-positive retailers double as social activists, where products are framed as tools of liberation, and where consumers are willing to pay for the promise of better living—one conversation, vibrator, and orgasm at a time.

978-0-8223-6367-5The contributors to The War on Sex, edited by David M. Halperin and Trevor Hoppe, document how government and civil society are waging a war on stigmatized sex by means of law, surveillance, and social control—from sex offender registries to the criminalization of HIV to highly punitive measures against sex work. By examining how the ever-intensifying war on sex affects both privileged and marginalized communities, the essays collected here show why sexual liberation is indispensable to social justice and human rights.

In Disturbing Attachments Kadji Amin challenges the idealization of Jean Genet as a paradigmatic figure within queer studies to illuminate the methodological dilemmas at the heart of queer theory. Pederasty, which was central to Genet’s sexuality and to his passionate cross-racial and transnational political activism late in life, is among a series of problematic and outmoded queer attachments that Amin uses to deidealize and historicize queer theory.

978-0-8223-6365-1Critically Sovereign, a collection edited by Joanne Barker, traces the ways in which gender is inextricably a part of Indigenous politics and U.S. and Canadian imperialism and colonialism. The contributors show how gender, sexuality, and feminism work as co-productive forces of Native American and Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination, and epistemology.

The most recent “In Practice” section of Camera Obscura, “Queerness and Games,” seeks to expand the relationship between feminist film theory and practice and feminist and queer video game culture and criticism. It features essays exploring topics such as Adrienne Shaw’s LGBTQ Video Game Archive, the Queerness and Games Conference (QGCon), and queer performativity in mobile device–assisted interactive play.

ddsaq_116_3The essays in South Atlantic Quarterly’sAgainst the Day” section, “Unrecognizable: On Trans Recognition in 2017,” confront urgent questions regarding transgender recognition in the current political moment. Since Trump was elected, the trans communities in the United States have expressed fear and outrage at the possibility that the “transgender tipping point” might be about to tip back. However, contributors to these essays explore the complicated relationship of the trans community to the “transgender tipping point” and express that even if recognition is inevitable, trans people may not always want to be identified. These essays invent new terms to describe the impossibility and violence of recognition and speculatively suggest an entirely different relation to visibility. In relation to the backlash, too, they argue that we cannot do trans politics without an analysis of political economy, without an analysis of the history of racialization and the violence of liberalism, as well as of hetero and gender normativity.

An Excerpt from The Look of a Woman by Eric Plemons

The Look of a WomanIn The Look of a Woman: Facial Feminization Surgery and the Aims of Trans- Medicine, Eric Plemons explores the ways in which facial feminization surgery is changing the ways in which trans- women are not only perceived of as women, but in the ways it is altering the project of surgical sex reassignment and the understandings of what sex means. In this excerpt he describes attending the annual Celebrate! conference.

Celebrate! is an annual conference for cross-dressers and trans-women that has been held in the same rural town  since 1990. There are only a small handful of these conferences in the United States each year, and many people attended as many of them as they could. In addition to informative presentations, conferences were important places for folks to build community, to feel accepted and seen as they were.

Throughout the weekend as I attended workshops, talks, and social events, shopping excursions and fashion shows, I chatted with people about FFS and surgical interventions more generally. With the exception of Rene, who was attending her first trans-conference and was generally blown away by everything she saw, everyone I spoke with had an opinion about facial feminization surgery.

I met Molly before the “Cross-Dressing 101” workshop. When I asked her about FFS she responded quickly, “I like everything I’ve got, just how it is.” Molly was consistently recognized as male, but that didn’t bother her. Cross-dressing was an occasional practice that she really enjoyed, but she had no interest in transitioning or changing her body in any permanent way. She compromised with her wife about little changes: Molly shaved her chest and body hair during the winter months and let it grow out for the summer swimsuit season.

Just because people knew about FFS did not necessarily mean they were interested in undergoing the procedure. During the second night of the conference I joined the official evening event at a town bar hosting a locally famous cover band that specialized in pop songs from the 1980s and 1990s. Their big conference draw, though, was that all the band members were cross-dressers. The small bar was packed with an amiable mix of town
residents and conference attendees, making it a people-watching event for all tastes. In between beers and sweaty dances I struck up conversations with trans-women who were leaning against the wall or seated at the bar, watching the scene. “Yeah, sure, faces are a big deal,” Gina told me, shouting against the thrum of the music. “But the real tell is the hairline. You can have a beautiful face, but if you’re bald, no one is buying you as a woman.” I heard these kinds of rejoinders a lot. Another person told me the voice is the real key. What good is a pretty face with a baritone voice? Another said hands were most important. Another said shoulders. For these trans-women FFS might have been desirable, but facial surgery alone would not have made the difference between being recognized as women or not. For them that line was located somewhere else on the body. Even beautiful faces would not have been enough.

Sophia knew two people who had had FFS. She said “they really do look much more feminine” and that her friends considered FFS to be the most important thing they’d done in their entire lives. While she acknowledged the transformative power of ffs, there were two reasons she was not interested in it for herself. “I’m six foot three,” she said, “and there is nothing I can do about that.” Like the women I met at the bar, Sophia understood other characteristics of her body — in her case, her height — were more determinative of her perceived sex than was her face. Changing her face on top of her tall frame would have been ineffectual. “More important,” she said, “I have this.” She picked up the silver walker she used to help her get around. “Once people see the walker, they really don’t look at anything else about me.” Dressed in a skirt and blouse, wearing a shag-cut gray wig, and leaning against a walker, Sophia was recognized as a woman most of the time. In part, she explained, because people don’t look so closely at old women or disabled women. These characteristics of her body already deflected the scrutinizing and sexualizing gaze that subject many other women to viewers’ judgment. Other folks sharing our conversation considered Sophia’s walker to be an ingenious strategy. They joked that she had a great prop and that a walker was far cheaper than an operation. Sophia played along. “Oh yeah, I’ve got it all worked out,” she said with a smile.

Femininity is an ongoing achievement. For some people facial surgery was the first and most important thing to do in order to achieve the femininity they desired. For others it was learning to move differently, or returning over and over again for electrolysis to remove beard and chest hair, or finding an elusive strappy sandal in the right size. Some other challenge comes next for everyone and becomes the thing that is standing in the way of the embodiment they desire. This is the way of sex and gender.

For many folks at the conference the first necessary step in pursuing femininity was learning to see it. Ousterhout and Beck offered two among many forms of expertise on that subject as they explained to attendees what made their face masculine and what must be done in order to achieve the femininity they desired. The surgeons’ talks were well attended by hopeful viewers who wanted the characteristics of their face explained as plainly as the presenter for “Cross-Dressing 101” had explained how to hold a handbag. And while some audience members listened intently, scribbled in their notebooks, and booked individual consultations for later in the day, other rooms at the conference were teeming with people whose future would not include FFS. Elese said she was too old. Mona was happy just as she was, thank you very much. Jackie couldn’t afford it. Shana just didn’t have the stomach for it. These folks wanted something else from medicine or wanted nothing at all.

Eric Plemons is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. Save 30% on The Look of a Woman now with coupon code E17LOOK.

Read to Respond Wrap-Up

R2R final logoSeveral months ago we launched our  “Read to Respond” series to highlight some of our most groundbreaking scholarship engaged with today’s pressing issues. Each topic, from student activism to racial justice, is highlighted with a reading list that encourages students and teachers alike to join the conversation surrounding these current events. 

Revisit your favorite “Read to Respond” topics so far and share these resources in and out of the classroom. These articles are freely available until December 15, 2017.

Read to Respond: Racial Justice

R2R final logoOur “Read to Respond” series addresses the current climate of misinformation by highlighting articles and books that encourage thoughtful, educated debate on today’s most pressing issues. This post focuses on racial justice, diving deep into topics such as racial identity, the Ferguson trial, and black activism. Read, reflect, and share these resources in and out of the classroom to keep these important conversations going.

Racial Justice

 

 

 

 

Read to Respond: Migration Studies

R2R final logoOur “Read to Respond” series addresses the current climate of misinformation by highlighting articles and books that encourage thoughtful, educated debate on today’s most pressing issues. This post focuses on immigration in commemoration with World Refugee Day, an international movement that supports families forced to flee and honors the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. Read, reflect, and share these resources in and out of the classroom to keep these important conversations going.

Migration Studies

These articles are freely available until December 15, 2017. Follow along with the series over the next several months and share your thoughts with #ReadtoRespond.

 

Read to Respond: Queer Studies

R2R final logoOur “Read to Respond” series addresses the current climate of misinformation by highlighting articles and books that encourage thoughtful, educated debate on today’s most pressing issues. This post focuses on queer studies in celebration of Pride Month and yesterday’s Equality March for Unity & Pride. Read, reflect, and share these resources in and out of the classroom to keep these important conversations going.

Queer Studies

These articles are freely available until December 15, 2017. Follow along with the series over the next several months and share your thoughts with #ReadtoRespond.

Subject Collections in Gender Studies and Latin American Studies

As we close out another academic year, we want to remind you of useful resources for two of the strongest areas of our publishing program: gender studies and Latin American studies. In 2017, we launched new e-book subject collections in Gender Studies and Latin American Studies.

GENDER STUDIES

Our Gender Studies/Feminist Theory book list features authors well known for their work in gender studies, gay and lesbian studies, transgender studies, and queer and feminist theory. Many of our journals also address gender studies from transnational and interdisciplinary perspectives:

View the title list for the Gender Studies collection, which features more than 500 e-books and is available to libraries by purchase, lease, or lease-to-own.

LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES

Our Latin American Studies authors are well known for their work in anthropology, art, cultural studies, Caribbean studies, Chicano and Latino studies, history, literature, film and media, and politics. Many of our journals also cover Latin America:

View the title list for the Latin American Studies collection, which features more than 500 e-books and is available to libraries by purchase, lease, or lease-to-own.

If you’re interested in gaining access to these resources, have your librarian contact our Library Relations team to get more information.

Read To Respond: Bathroom Politics

R2R final logoOur “Read to Respond” series addresses the current climate of misinformation by highlighting articles and books that encourage thoughtful, educated debate on today’s most pressing issues. This post focuses on bathroom politics, and how we make bathrooms accessible to people of different gender, ability, or class. Read, reflect, and share these resources in and out of the classroom to keep these important conversations going.

Bathroom Politics

These articles are freely available until December 15, 2017. Follow along with the series over the next several months and share your thoughts with #ReadtoRespond.

Read to Respond: Trans Rights

R2R final logoOur “Read to Respond” series addresses the current climate of misinformation by highlighting articles and books that encourage thoughtful, educated debate on today’s most pressing issues. This post focuses on trans rights in light of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, a day dedicated to drawing the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public, and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQIA+ people internationally. Read, reflect, and share these resources in and out of the classroom to keep these important conversations going.

Trans Rights

These articles are freely available until December 15, 2017. Follow along with the series over the next several months and share your thoughts with #ReadtoRespond.

Read to Respond: Articles for Student Activists

R2R final logoOur “Read to Respond” series addresses the current climate of misinformation by highlighting articles and books that encourage thoughtful, educated debate on today’s most pressing issues. Read, reflect, and share these resources in and out of the classroom to keep these important conversations going.

Articles for Student Activists:

These articles are freely available until August 15, 2017. Follow along with the series over the next several months and share your thoughts with #ReadtoRespond.