Abstracts

Please note that not all of our speakers are academics, and not all have submitted abstracts ahead of their presentations.

Abstracts 

Arpita Phukan Biswas,

PhD in Sociology Indian Institute of Technology- Bombay 

DRAWING TO A LIMIT: HIJRA LIMINALITY IN CASTE 

Indian sociology assembles caste asan object of studythrough thestudyof various kinds of rituals, symbols, texts,and practices. These evidences, as always visible andalways present, gain momentum to define our sociological understanding of what caste is. This paper on the other handis primarily interested in constitutive absences. I look at the figure of the native Indian ‘thirdgender’-hijra– as a liminal figure in caste, and one whose liminality- as a condition- isconstitutive to imagining the continuity of caste in endogamy. It is my argument that the sociological position of third gender can only be imagined at the limit of gender binary in India. This gender binary is already prefigured by the imperatives of caste continuity. 

The hijra in sacrificing their masculinity, traditionally, is thought of as a liminal figure to a caste-sociality that privileges sexual reproductivity in the service of caste continuity. Consequently, a hijra finds herself ejected from the network of caste-kinship and joins the community of hijras to live as one. This paper then tries to understand the liminal space with respect to the mechanisms of caste and the embodiment of hijraand seeks to argue that the limit of caste is where the personhood of hijra can be sociologically imagined. Rooted in ethnographies of hijras across networks of rural, sub-rural, urban, and global activism, I further seek to understand the embodiment of hijras, or hijrahoods, as assemblages in response to their contemporary and contemporizing forces of caste. 

 

Dr B Camminga 

Digital borders, diasporic flows and the Nigerian transgender beauty queen who would not be denied 

In 2011, Miss Sahhara, a transgender woman from Nigeria with British refugee status, was crowned Miss International Queen First Princess. Held annually in Thailand, Miss International Queen is considered to be the world’s largest and most prestigious beauty pageant for transgender women. As the first woman of colour to enter the pageant – let alone win a crown – Miss Sahhara immediately drew international attention. The then cultural minister of Nigeria was contacted to comment on her triumph. He responded that if she was transgender, she could not be Nigerian, and if she was Nigerian, she could not be transgender – a tacit denial of her very existence. I understand transgender refugees to have taken up “lines of flight” such that, in a Deleuzian sense, they do not only flee persecution in countries of origin but also re-create or speak back to a system of control and oppressive social conditions. These lines can represent borders: they are flows or information circuits along which identities, information, and social and cultural realities travel and take shape. Some transgender people who have left, like Miss Sahhara, have not gone silently, using digital means to project a new political visibility of individuals, those who are both transgender and African, back at the African continent. Drawing on the story of Miss Sahhara, this paper maps these flows and contraflows, asking what they might reveal about configurations of race, citizenship, nationhood, gender and sexuality as they are formed at both the digital and physical interstices between Africa and the Global North. 

Çağdaş Duman, Gamze Hamamcıoğlu 

Performing Utopia: Seyhan Arman’s Küründen Kabare (A Phoney Cabaret) 

This paper aims to depict transgender people’s experiences and transgender politics in Turkey by focusing on a transgender activist, actress and drag queen Seyhan Arman and her performance Küründen Kabare (A Phoney Cabaret). Küründen Kabare tells the story of a transgender woman Serpil who has been exposed to sexual violence as well as gender-based social violence. Serpil goes through a lot, but, in time, she learns to withstand as well as flash a sarcastic smile at them. The performance mainly touches upon issues such as sex work, the objectification and dehumanization of transgender women, and the miasmal collective hatred directed at them. 

In Küründen Kabare Seyhan Arman creates a space for trans people within which trans experiences, unhampered by normative codifications and impediments, are laid bare. As she says, trans people are “the other of the other” in Turkey. As such, there is no existent space for trans people in Turkey. Violence is a quotidian part of trans people’s lives, and the mass media merely adds on this collective violence through either the implementation of silence or continual scapegoating of trans people. Considering these factors, theatrical space remains crucially functional in terms of demonstrating transgender subjectivities and experiences. We would argue that, Arman establishes a counterpublic space with resistive trans-politics. She carves out a space in which intrusive counter-trans politics are no more valid. Thus, Arman’s theatrical space heralds a utopia where the stultifying societal oppressions are intervened, becoming a pathway to trans liberation. 

Keywords: Theatre and Performance Studies, Transgender Studies, Utopian Theatre, Transgender Subjectivity, Transgender Politics 

 

 Curran Nault + PJ Raval 

Call Her Ganda, Jennifer Laude and the Activist Afterlife of American Empire  

In October 2014, transpinay Jennifer Laude was discovered deceased in a motel room in Olangapo, a Philippine port city known for catering to the profligate pleasures of U.S. servicemen. Her body was badly bruised, her face severely swollen from strangulation and submersion in a toilet. The perpetrator was Joseph Scott Pemberton, on “liberty leave” from the nearby naval base at Subic Bay. Call Her Ganda (2018) by Filipinx American director PJ Raval chronicles the ensuing trial and the willful women at its agitational epicenter, including Jennifer herself, whose ghostly presence remains via found footage, relentlessly repeated throughout this disquieting text. In this presentation, I observe Ganda’s invocation of repetition and revenant—its unraveling of an experience of violent vortical time—as a means of inquiring how trans lives (and deaths) might be made to matter, particularly in the contemporary post-colonial Global South.  

In employing its apparitional aesthetics, appointed with activist ends, Ganda intimates the possibilities (and limits) of subaltern spectrality: Ganda enacts an aesthetic allegory in which the afterlife of a trans death is not simply a site of loss, exploitation and value extraction, but a kind of deathly disturbance that unsettles audiences with the brutal, cyclical horrors of U.S. empire and transmisogyny. In unfurling this argument, I call upon Jacques Derrida’s hauntology, a metaphysics of absence and presence, to unpack Ganda’s alternative ecologies of death. This presentation, like the documentary, thus enacts a kind of strategic séance, conjuring the excellence and activism that survives in the wake of trans death, and in the ghostlife of American empire more broadly.  

 

Gerardo Contreras Ruvalcaba 

Our fate: A structural reading of transgender incarceration in Mexico 

At the end of 2017, the Mexican Federal Police issued a procedural rule in cases which involve the LGBT population. The procedural law, which appears a human rights victory, follows an international tendency whereby the punitive institution incorporates LGBT rights rhetoric superficially while actually further empowering the institution not the LGBT in the criminal justice system. This policy logic makes invisible the multiple and intersectional structures of oppression that have justified the targeting of transgender and non-binary populations as criminals. This paper looks at transgender and non-binary experiences including testimonies and official statistics through the lens of critical legal studies, the prison critiques of Angela Davis and the power theory of Michel Foucault. A structural reading makes the oppression intelligible as products of the larger political regime, instead of the unfair and individual criminal procedure. In this text, I argue that criminal practices of Mexican transgender and non-binary are survival strategies in a neoliberal system that offers them few and difficult choices. A fate drawn to guarantee the exclusion of bodies which transgressed hegemonic norm of class, race, gender and ability. Taking this as new starting point, I work out a recognition strategy outside criminal law that look to challenge the traditional judicial-political paradigm. Thus, I propose an appropriation of the term political prisoners as radical tool to make visible the intersectional oppression that transgender and non-binary persons suffer in Mexican penitentiary system. 

 

Guiseppe Zago

PhD candidate, Northumbria University 

A thin line between protection and isolation: the denial of human dignity of transgender prisoners in English and Italian penal institutions 

The prison system is regulated on the basis of gendered and hypermasculine institutionalised dynamics, which perpetuate forms of discrimination particularly affecting trans and gender non-conforming individuals. Particularly, prisoners’ gender binary divide, along with a general sex prohibition policy, appears informed on what Rubin defined the “sex/gender” system (Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality, 1993), a traditionalist standard where only two genders, male and female, with specific essentialist roles, are recognised.  

Lack of quantitative and qualitative data related to the queer prison population contribute to this normative framework. This paper seek to fill this gap by analysing the current situation in two jurisdictions, Italy and England and Wales, based on data collected in 17 semi-structured interviews recorded by the author with gay, lesbian and transgender prisoners held in three Italian and two English prisons during the period July – August and December 2018.  

The participants’ sample, although small in size, allowed addressing some major problems affecting transgender people during imprisonment concerning sexuality, intimacy, access to services and healthcare. Interviews with gay and lesbian prisoners also shed light on the sensitive relational dynamics among different groups associated to the queer minority.  

Overall, queer prisoners’ feelings of isolation challenge the current prison policies enacted in these two countries, but that also reflect a more general European pattern, and deconstruct the institutional narrative to call for an effective application of the principle of rehabilitation and respect of prisoners’ human dignity through systemic reforms.  

 

Ivis Villarreal 

“That’s my identity card. I am a transgender woman”: How the obligatory use of ID cards to purchase food during the shortages in Venezuela made transgender population to face discrimination in order to access to food.  

Due to the crisis that Venezuela is going through, especially in terms of shortages, the government started to rationate the sale of food, medicines and other supplies in 2014, through a system that requires the mandatory presentation of the identity card. The mentioned system assigned two days a week for each person to do their groceries, which were selected by the final numbers of the ID card. Taking that into consideration, this study aims to explore the shopping experiences of the transgender population in Venezuela, since their gender identities are not legally recognized by the state and their gender identity and expression do not match their ID cards. This caused serious problems that intersect with the already difficult economic and political collapse of this nation between 2014 and 2016, resulting in discrimination against transgender persons and their access to food. To carry out this narrative research, the participants agreed to describe their shopping experiences through online interviews. Furthermore, their testimonies have been analysed using intersectional theory and exploring how identity cards play a significant role in manifesting state-power. This research intends to be used as an instrument of visibility for the Venezuelan transgender reality, so that the circumstances they had to cope with do not remain untold. Moreover, it aims to show the enormous indifference towards the lives of Venezuelan transgenders, but also how they have responded to, coped with and resisted the faced discrimination. 

 

Joao Gabriell 

FUIQP (United Front of Immigration and Working Class Neighborhoods); Panafricain-Umoja League; Johns Hopkins University 

Becoming the “Black man”: How Transitioning Sheds Light on Capitalism’s Racial Dynamics 

This paper, originally presented at the conference “Trans Materialism” on March 30 in France, discusses how the experience of black trans men allows to question the assumptions about the upward social mobility that would follow transitioning from women to men. More generally, it is a criticism of the notion of male privileges that does not take into account how race and class negatively affect Black men, and men of color in general, regardless of their gender status (cisgender ou transgender). Overall, this paper will argue in favor of a materialist analysis of transphobia and racism, less focus on personal identities, but more on how capitalism is a gendered and racialized mode of production.  

 

Mar Fournier Pereira

Université de Lille [France], CECILLE, Universidad de Costa Rica 

Gender, Class, Race, and Affectivity: Narratives of a Community of Transgender Women in Costa Rica 

Between 2014 and 2017, I engaged in a process of Participatory Action Research with a community of trans women in the city of San José, Costa Rica. I accompanied these women in their everyday activities (from political demonstrations to medical appointments, from HIV prevention campaigns to cozy coffee afternoons). Together, we explored participatory methods and research techniques, seeking an horizontal dialog. Coming from an activist and academic background, and identifying as trans non-binary myself, this constitutes the most intense and important pedagogical experience of my life.  

Through the sustained listening of emergents, needs, emotions, and questions of this community, we developed an affective ethnography, that lead us to an intersectional analysis of how gender, class and race weave the forms of violence and oppression that they suffer, but also how these configure their forms of resistance.  

The objective of this ethnography of everyday life was the reconstruction of the history of survival, affection, complicity and sorority, of the emergence a self-determined, self-proclaimed community of trans women. To address this objective, I establish a dialogue with feminisms (Hill Collins, 2000, Crenshaw, 1989, Segato , 2003, Lugones, 2012, Fraser, 2015, Sagot, 2013, Rubin, 1968), especially with the concept of intersectionality and the decolonial perspectives. From an ethnographic approach, I ascribe to the metaphor of the involvement developed by Martínez (2011) instead of the intervention, and the ecology of knowledge of de Sousa (2009), which proposes the exchange and generation of knowledge through the horizontal dialogue between scientific and popular and social knowledge. 

  

Meshach (Melz) Owusu  

Black Trans Masculinities: Redefinition as Survival   

This paper will look at what it means to be an assigned female at birth black trans-masculine person or trans-man. I will explore historical ideas of black masculinity as violent and harmful and explore the ways in which trans-masculine black folk must navigate these perceptions, in order to resist them as perceptions of self. Trans-men have the highest rates of attempted suicide in the trans community and I posit this psychological struggle of navigating harmful masculinity, as a key factor in these figures. Further, I will explore the ways in which black trans-masculine people have often been the victim to harmful forms of masculinity and so must further reject these personal experiences as a reflection of self. As such, I argue that there is a vital re-defining and re-imagining of masculinity that must take place in order to allow black trans-masculine people the space for self-definition and self-acceptance. This re-defining of masculinity must be a collective project – it is harmful to everyone to view masculinity through the lens of harm alone. I will use the work of bell hooks in The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love to exemplify this point and explore some possible foundations of healthy and caring forms of masculinity. I will argue that this practise of continually re-defining and re-imaging masculinity is essential to the survival, happiness, and lives of black trans-masculine people.  

 

Michael Toze 

Desiring Manhoods: Considering trans masculine attractions to men and maleness 

Accounts of trans masculinity have often positioned trans masculine identities and experiences against those of lesbian women. This can be seen in analysis of the ‘butch-FTM border wars’ of the 1990s and Halberstam’s (1998) account of female masculinity as ‘masculinity without men’, as well as more recent media stories. Yet trans masculinity typically entails a draw to maleness and to men, certainly with regard to personal identity, but frequently also in terms of sexual identity. While both medical and popular accounts often dismiss or overlook trans masculine people who have sex with men, community-based studies consistently report that many trans masculine people are attracted to men and have sex with men (Iantaffi and Bockting, 2012; Bockting, Benner and Coleman 2009). For gay trans men in particular, relationships with men may be a more significant factor in identity consolidation than prior interactions with lesbian communities (Rubin, 2003). 

For many trans masculine people, connections to lesbian and queer women’s communities are an important component of their experiences. However, examining trans masculinity purely within this frame potentially furthers intersections of transphobia and misogyny that pit trans people and cis women against each other, while failing to question ciscentric accounts of masculinity and maleness. This paper will explore the extent to which the feminist, queer and medical literature has conceptually addressed trans masculine people who have sex with men, and consider the implications for understandings of maleness, masculinity and manhood. 

 

Mijke van der Drift 

The truth of trans and the right to disappear in an age of visibility 

In this paper I aim to give an account of trans lives that find form under the radar of known tropes. Whether that is the “becoming who I really am” narrative, “the finally myself” narrative, or an idea that what is left behind is less real than what is embraced at present. I will explore what it means to find articulations of becoming and personal change that are not rooted in these categorical shifts moving from falsehood to truth. I do this in order to question whether it is truth that is the problem. This leads me to formulate a critique on pressures on identity formation, such as can be understood from Foucault, where the analogy of the Panopticon – the prison that makes people internalize their prisonership – is used for a variety of forms of finding selfhood. I will turn to Black Studies scholar Simone Browne’s critique of the Panopticon to give an account of formation under scrutiny that does not collapse into believing about oneself what others project. This delivers not only a space for the formation of resistant identities, but also questions the entire project of control societies. Here, it can be understood that offering the ‘truth’ about oneself is not only irrelevant, but in fact a form of camouflage. Returning to Glissant’s phrasing of opacity as a ‘right’ I will offer an idea of trans as a return to opacity, instead of as a return to truth.  

 

Nic Aaron 

The case for Queering and De-Colonising the 2003 Sexual Offences Act.   

Increasingly, Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) attempt to shape state responses to sexual violence by weaponizing rape culture to incite hatred and fear towards trans women, as is illustrated in the above quote (Williams 2014). Having been violently imposed to control colonial subjects historically (Stoler 2010), the gender essentialist rhetoric of a rigid male-female binary on which TERFs rely continues to structurally erase gender fluidity and non-conformity across the globe. This paper demonstrates the ways in which the gender essentialism espoused by TERFs is embedded within British law and state responses to sexual violence. It urgently calls for such laws to be dismantled, to prevent further exclusion and harm from being enacted on multiply marginalised survivors.  

Following Tanya Palmer’s (2012) socio-legal analysis, this paper starts by demonstrating how gender essentialism manifests itself within the 2003 Sexual Offences Act. Next, it traces and problematises the ways in which gender essentialism permeates the criminal justice system, positioning trans women – and in particular trans women of colour – as threatening to cis women in state run and funded spaces. The third and final part of the paper proposes that queer theory can be used to critique and dismantle the structures of racism and trans misogyny embedded within British law.  Jack Halberstam’s (2001) theorisation of female masculinities can displace biologically essentialised understandings of perpetrators of sexual violence. This is productive of a more complex understanding of embodied perpetrators and survivors of sexual violence, that, it is argued, is critical when researching gender-based violence.     

 

Peter Dunne 

Trans Identities within the UN Human Rights System: Movements toward Equality or Identity Erasure? 

The history of sexual orientation advocacy at the United Nations (UN) spans almostthree decades. From the early 1990s, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) advocates havebeen invited to openly participate in UN meetings and debates. In 1994, the UN HumanRights Committee issued a landmark opinion (Toonen v Australia) condemning anti-sodomy statutes. Since Toonen, an increasing number of UN actors (e.g. SpecialProcedures, etc.) have incorporated LGB populations into their work.

On the other hand, visibility for trans communities has been a more recent phenomenon within the UN. Trans identities were not formally acknowledged at the United Nations until 2006. At present, and despite rapidly evolving public awareness of gender diversity, trans advocates still struggle to have their voices heard through the UN’s legal and political structures. 

This presentation considers one aspect of the changing attitudes towards, and understandings of, trans populations at the United Nations. The presentation asks whether and how trans experiences have been mainstreamed into the Concluding Observations and Concluding Recommendations of the UN Human Rights Treaty bodies. 

Taking the 2006 acknowledgement as a starting point, the presentation explores when and in what context the Treaty Bodies have engaged with State Party conduct towards trans individuals. The presentation not only provides quantitative analyses of how frequently the Treaty Bodies investigate alleged violations of trans rights. It also offers a qualitative critique, revealing how Treaty Body intervention often reinforces harmful medical stereotypes (reducing trans communities to historic tropes) and misunderstands key differences between sexual orientation and gender identity. While the presentation welcomes greater UN engagement, it advocates a more nuanced approach which respects distinct and individualized experiences of gender. 

 

Rajesh Barik

PhD Scholar, IIT Indore, India 

Socio-economic exclusion and poor quality of life among transgender in India 

This paper attempts to study the socio-economic deprivations of transgender in India and its effect on their physical health and psychological conditions. This study is based on primary data. In total 160 trans women samples are collected from two cities of India (Bhubaneswar and New Delhi). Both quantitative and qualitative approaches are used in this study. In qualitative method, this study uses Case Study (CS) and Focus Group Discussion (FGD) methods. In addition, both descriptive statistics and multinomial logit regression model are used for quantitative analysis of our data. Regression coefficient, their corresponding test statistics (Z-values) and marginal effects are computed. We find that rejection from parental home and family life and disownment of inherited land or property rights not only affect transgender’s level of education, but it also compels them to accept either sex-work or begging as their principal occupations for survival. Along with the skill constraints, existing social stigma, gender violence and sexual and other harassments restricts them to participate in the labour market to take up gainful employment. Though, the incidence of income poverty is not much high among transgender, but their living condition is miserable as they live in urban slums with very unhygienic sanitary environments. Besides this, it is also found that most of them are suffering from chronic disease like HIV-AIDs, high blood pressure, hypertension, cardiovascular, kidney and lungs diseases. The incidence of diseases, harassments in public places, and social excludability together have immense adverse influence on their psychological health and overall wellbeing.   

Key words: Transgender; Social Exclusion; Occupational Choice; Quality of Life; India 

 

Rosa Targett 

Sisters or siblings? Queering gendered familiarity in feminist spaces 

In March of 2017, the intersectional feminist direct action collective Sisters Uncut Bristol occupied a library in protest at its closure and sale to a developer as the site for ‘luxury apartments’. The occupiers, most of whom were trans, turned the empty library building into a community centre where anyone marginalised on the grounds of gender could attend workshops, some of which were focussed on exploring our own gender identities. This created an environment in which activists had new found room for reflexivity, resulting in the emergence of a central question: are we sisters? 

This question drew two specific reflections: was the use of the term ‘sister’ a violent act of language appropriation on the part of a group that was increasingly White and middle-class; and was it further working to exclude our trans masculine and non-binary siblings? 

Drawing on theories of affect (Ahmed 2006; Cho 2015), understandings of activist spaces as a priori raced, classed, gendered, etc. (Brown 2012; Valentine 2007), and data from my own research, this paper explores the ways in which language impacts upon the dynamics of a space that becomes subject to ‘queering’ through the dismantling of normative gendered self-perceptions. I suggest that, in the case of activist spaces, which are predisposed to create familiarity among particular bodies via heightened emotional connections, this process of queering demands a level of reflexivity that has transformative potential for the political bases of feminist direct action. 

 

Sade Kondelin

MA, University of Turku, Finland

Significances of Language in the Intersections of Transness and Marginalized Ethnicities 

Knowing is a messy business. As numerous feminist philosophers and other scholars of critical epistemologies have demonstrated, practices of knowledge are intimately connected with structures of social hierarchies and oppressive regimes. In my work-in-progress doctoral dissertation, I study the entangled issues of authority, experience, and expertise, emerging in various processes of trans-related knowledge-production in Finland. I also take a look at knowledge-production concerning the indigenous Sámi people in Finland, to consider both the structural similarities in the epistemic othering of trans people and the Sámi, as well as the production of “transness” and “Sáminess” as culturally separate and disconnected categories of embodiment. 

In this paper, I focus on the roles that language and terminology play in knowledge-production concerning the intersections of transness and marginalized ethnicities. Drawing on my PhD research as well as my own experiences (both as a Karelian trans individual and as a learner of several marginalized languages), I ask what it means for a trans individual not to have ways to describe their experiences in their native language, or what it means for a language to lack ways to account for trans experiences. On a more hopeful note, I also demonstrate that to a certain extent, these (and/or similar) issues are already being addressed by various language users.  

 

Serena Visser 

Confessions of a (former?) wannabe gender therapist 

As a therapist trained in the Canadian context, the only mention of working with trans and gender diverse people within in my graduate program (in the mid-2000s) was a ten-minute discussion of the diagnostic criteria for gender identity disorder. That providing this diagnosis might be delegitimizing or psychopathologizing was never acknowledged, let alone discussed. Over the intervening years I have completed many hours of focused trainings and supervision, yet I continue to struggle with the fact that, in my rural Alberta practice, diagnosing someone with a mental illness based on their gender identity is still required should they desire to gain access to needed services.  

We know that, due to its history of cisnormative assumptions about gender identity, the mental health system promotes a regulatory, binary expression of gender (Spade, 2003). Yet the implications of the concordant processes, practices and structures for trans and gender diverse individuals are not recognized by the mental health system as an institution. In this paper, I employ a feminist poststructural analytic to trouble the diagnosis of gender dysphoria in the American Psychiatric Association’s (2013) fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). This paper is part of my larger doctoral research, which is concerned with flipping the lens on the “problem” of gender dysphoria:  from trans and gender diverse people to the medical power/knowledge nexus that produces these subject positions in the first place. 

References 

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (Fifth ed.). Washington, DC: Author. 

Spade, D. (2003). Resisting medicine, re/modeling gender. Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, 18(1), 15-37. 

 

Shadia Nakimbugwe

Caritas Kasanaensis, Uganda 

Obstacles,discrimination and enablers of education equality for transgender students in secondary schools 

This paper reports the results of research on education inequalities in secondary schools of Uganda which was carried out in central Uganda. Focus group and individual interviews were carried out with key stakeholders (transgender individuals, parents of transgender students and advocates from organisations that support transgender students) to explore and understand the contributory factors and manifestation of educational inequalities for transgender students at different stages of their education, along with potential enablers of equality. The main barriers found were: gender stereotyping in schools, lack of awareness and understanding of transgender issues, discrimination of transgender students, lack of guidance for schools, inflexibility around school rules, exclusion (including self- 

exclusion due to feelings of not being accepted), the timing of transition, difficult enrollment processes, moving away from home and inappropriate facilities. Enablers of education equality for transgender students included: central directives and joined up working between government departments,training for school staff, flexibility in school practices and a systematic approach to data collection concerning the experiences of transgender students.  

Keywords 

Discrimination, obstacles, transgender, inequality, inclusion, attainment, access. 

 

Sister not Cis-ter (Jay Latarche) 

Fighting for Reforms to the 2003 Gender Recognition Act in the U.K.    

Proposed changes to the 2003 Gender Recognition Act that would streamline the process of legally changing gender for trans people has provoked an enormous backlash across the U.K. Those opposing proposed changes propagate fear with false myths about men being allowed into women’s only spaces. They mask bigotry behind concern for safety in safeguarding state run women only spaces, such as refuges and women’s prisons, by excluding trans women. Beyond this, the violence of contemporary trans misogyny predominantly targets multiply marginalised trans women – those from working class backgrounds and/or trans women of colour and/or sex workers –  who are both most reliant on the state provisions and most likely to be incarcerated. This has been met with resistance from trans people and allies across the country, and beyond. 

In this presentation, members of Sister not Cis-ter, a collective of trans people and allies who have been active in resisting the rise of trans misogyny, will share examples of what has been achieved over the last year; from online activism, to protests, to producing guidance in filling out the Gender Recognition Act Consultation in a trans positive way. Plans of the project to address transphobia in the academy will be shared, and you can find out how to get involved in this campaign, resisting trans-misogyny where ever it is encountered.   

 

Stephen Whittle and Sarah Rutherford

Prof. Stephen Whittle – The Manchester Law School, Ms. Sarah Rutherford – Depts. of Nursing and Health Professions, both at Manchester Metropolitan University. 

After a WHO ICD-11 Diagnosis, is there any future left for the Gender Identity Clinic? 

This paper is a reflective analysis of recent changes in diagnostic methodologies and their impact on the future role and purpose of the Gender Identity clinic (GIC) system.  

Qualitative Research respondents (2017-18) included  

  • Members of five Focus groups with marginalised trans people (in Spain, Sweden, Northern Ireland, England, and the Netherlands),  
  • personal short accounts from respondents across the Council of Europe states and  
  • thirty long interviews with trans people from across the UK.  

All were asked to recount recent experiences of GIC and general healthcare, focussing, in particular, on where healthcare had been positive and respectful of their gender identity, so as to avoid a bias wherein participants ‘tell the worst’, thinking that is what researchers are looking for. 

Europe’s health and wellbeing provision for trans identified people has been embedded within the paternalism of the traditional psychiatric outpatient clinic. Some clinicians have discussed, even tried, practice changes in light of the de-psychopathologisation campaign by trans people. However, this research showed a continuing perpetuation of clinically questionable practices, many of which, since the changes in the WHO’s ICD-11 gender identity related diagnostic categories, are clearly contrary to the human rights of the trans patient.  Future changes in European states to gender recognition laws, will further engage many of those practices under national laws, the European Charter of Fundamental Freedoms, and the Convention on Human Rights 

The research found that Gender Identity services within European states persistently contravene patient rights. We conclude the GIC is a mostly redundant clinic, alternatives can exist and this research demonstrates they should exist. 

 

Wikke Jansen

Doctoral candidate, Institute: Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (Germany)

ACTIVISM CONTESTED: EXAMINING DISCOURSES OF ISLAM, HUMAN RIGHTS AND “INDONESIANNESS” AMONG GENDER NON-CONFORMING GROUPS IN INDONESIA. 

Although Indonesia has a rich history of gender diversity, tolerance of gender non-conforming individuals has drastically decreased in the last two decades. The heightened visibility of the queer community as well as the growing influence of political Islam in the country have contributed to a rising number of violent incidents directed against transgender persons. The efforts of mainstream activist groups, which are usually funded by international organizations, often conform to a wider human rights-based approach. The gains made by such organizations notwithstanding, a number of factors continue to limit their impact both on the daily lived experience of transgender individuals as well as on public opinion. First, the human rights discourse that they employ is often considered to be a foreign, “Western” invention that runs counter to an essential “Indonesianness” and leaves little room for Islam, thereby alienating the general Muslim population as well as religious transgender individuals. Secondly, the transgender category implied in this discourse often assumes a wish for complete medical transition and does not encompass the variety in subjectivities embodied by Indonesian gender non-conforming individuals. Finally, mainstream activism is in most cases detached from a small but emerging group of Muslim scholars aiming to develop conceptualizations of Islam that are sensitive to gender and sexuality. Based on semi-structured interviews and participant observation among transgender individuals, activists, and scholars conducted during a research project in Java in 2017, this paper examines the complex interactions between Islam, human rights-based activism and a discourse of “Indonesianness” in the debate surrounding transgender issues in Indonesia.  

 

Gina Maya Roberts

Doctoral Research student in Global Transgender Narratives, University of Edinburgh 

Confronting Whiteness: Marginalized Literatures from Trans People of Colour 

Since the early twentieth century, a particular form of transgender woman has dominated transgender female representations in mainstream Anglophone media and the arts: white, middle-class, and consciously respectable, embodied in the enduring legacy of the historical Lili Elbe (1931/2000/2015). In 2019, against the tendencies of gatekeeping institutions in the media and the arts in the U.K. and U.S.A., the white transgender female continues to shape and dominate the political transgender agenda, but new and exciting voices have emerged to expose the narrowness of a single narrative. Today, within the scenes of trans people of colour in the U.S.A. in particular, are world-class artists removing the screen from the original messages of Stonewall protestors Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, themselves long since whitewashed by mainstream trans and queer politics. My talk will look at the works of one of these new-generation artists, U.S.-based Mexican writer Jamie Berrout. As well as exploring her evisceration of white-supremacist ideology in the U.S., I will ask what Berrout’s work tells us about life for a transgender woman outside of white privilege, and why this should matter to trans-rights activists and policy-makers everywhere. 

 

Dr Matthew Waites

Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Glasgow   

Critical research agendas in global gender studies 

Transgender studies is rapidly expanding, and redefining global gender studies; but how can we discern the structures of the contemporary research field, in order to identify both the contributions and the gaps?  In this presentation I will take the opportunity to reflect on the forms of research and knowledge-claims emerging concerning genders in global gender studies, with a focus on the intersectional/international themes of conference, and relationships to research in global queer studies. The discussion will focus on key examples of research literature which seem to identify trajectories of research.   A key theme will be the relationship between experiential and biographical writing, and social science writing, with examination of relationships between disciplines such as law, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and politics.  Intersectionality theory and politics contain further potentialities for gender research. Yet the tendency of some transgender research and intersectionality research to work from experience as a basis for knowledge has limitations for negotiating the encounter between western (especially Anglophone) transgender studies and the experience of gender diverse people in various cultures, as increasingly documented in sociological and anthropological studies. The sociological imagination may have as yet under-explored value. Decolonial studies and the new global historical sociology problematising transboundary colonialities bring new challenges. Grasping how funding structures and university hierarchies internationally shape the forms of research can help us reflect more critically on what kinds of research are emerging, and what kinds are needed.  The presentation will create an opportunity to discuss issues of disciplinarity and research agendas in a global context.   

 

Stephanie McKendry and Matson Lawrence  

TransEDU: Experiences of trans and gender diverse people in UK further and higher education 

While there is increasing recognition of the barriers and challenges that trans people may face in the education sectors, there has been a dearth of empirical evidence to assist colleges and universities in meeting their statutory and ethical responsibilities.  Drawing upon the TransEDU research and wider project (2016-18), this paper will discuss the experiences of, and barriers faced by, trans and gender diverse students and staff in UK colleges and universities. Based upon empirical data collected in Scotland and with UK-wide implications, this paper will report on the thematic findings from the empirical research undertaken with over one-hundred trans applicants, students and staff.  

Particular attention will be given to the ways in which operational, administrative and interpersonal practices across institutions can serve to disadvantage, exclude and even erase trans people. This paper will also consider the distinct challenges face by trans staff, postgraduates and early-career researchers, with particular focus on navigating professional relationships, teaching and research, and securing adequate leave for affirming healthcare. For the Transgender Intersectional / International conference, this paper will give particular focus to the experiences of intersectional trans and gender diverse people in post-secondary education, including disabled people, EU and international students, and students from ‘widening access’ backgrounds. To close, this paper will reflect upon examples of positive practices within the sectors that serve to enhance provision for trans applicants, students and staff. 

 

 

 

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