Transgender Studies

Transgender Studies presents a field in Gender Studies that has gained strong influence onto the discipline. It participates in the ongoing project of rethinking gender binaries. As an academic field it started forming in the early 1970 and more solidly consolidated itself from up the early 1990s with pioneering publications leading up to founding in 2013 the field’s first academic peer-reviewed journal Transgender Studies Quarterly. From the beginning, Transgender Studies set out to intervene into objectifying theorisations of transgender embodiment and gender identity which has been dominant in hegemonic areas of sexology, psychology, and psychiatric medicine. Also within Gender Studies the idea of non-normative sex/gender positions was at first – and is sometimes still – regarded as controversial and not always welcomed. Within GEXcel, feminist and transgender research are perceived as inseparable. Being in the process of institutionalisation, Transgender Studies is a field in which multiple voices debate and sometimes problematise its foci and contents and its potentially euroamerican universalisation of terminologies and definitions. Understanding transgender as a non-linear and deterritorialising ‘movement away’ from birth assigned sex, the research theme of Transgender Studies in this platform encourages and works for a decolonialising understanding of the field in contemporary, futural, as well as historical terms. As an intersectional feminist project, Transgender Studies is theoretically as well as methodologically inspired by socio-cultural movements, grass root activism, academic and activist change-oriented processes. Furthermore, it is deeply committed to a transfeminist, intra-sectional, and interdependent epistemology. As a research field, Transgender Studies within GEXcel is determined by a non-essentialising and non-universalising approach towards corpo-materialities, gendered selves, and embodied sexualities and offers a platform for cutting-edge knowledge production.

  • This field covers the following established research strand:

    Transfeminism/s

    Strand chairs: Signe Bremer, Centre for Gender Research (UU/KAU), Marie-Louise Holm, Department for Thematic Studies/Gender Studies (LiU) & Wibke Straube, Centre for Gender Studies (KAU)

    Internationally transfeminism is an emerging field. Transfeminism challenges feminist accounts which address ciswomen (and cismen) as self-evident producers and main subjects of critical gender theory and feminist thinking. This strand implies that transfeminist perspectives are vital, not marginal, to Gender Studies as a whole. It is embedded in transfeminist approaches which build on and expand from feminist postcolonial and queer studies scholars’ critique towards a homogenic and universalising subject of feminism. Transfeminim/s urges the need for a plurality of feminisms based on an understanding of trans* advocacy and intersectional alliances as not in opposition to but as indispensible for the overall feminist struggle against oppression.

    Ongoing research projects connected to this strand present ethnographic research focusing on trans* experiences of urban feminist and women-only separatist spaces and innovative theoretical transfeminist intersectional thinking and methodologies (Signe Bremer), a historical study of the establishment of trans movements and their relations to LGB-movements from the 1960s and onwards (Marie-Louise Holm), an eco-critical reading of trans representation in film and art (Wibke Straube) as well as a project addressing linguistic affects and trans/cis language politics (Wibke Straube).

    Ongoing funded projects: The Gender Binary City – Ethnography of Safety, Vulnerability and Resistance in Transgender People’s Narratives on City Life. (2014-2017, PI Signe Bremer, funded by the Swedish research council FORTE)

    Key researchers in the Nordic Countries: Anna Sieverskog, Anthony Clair Wagner, Erika Alm, Irina Schmidt, Iwo Nord, Katrina Roen, Lann Hornscheidt, Lotta Kähkönen, Marie-Louise Holm, Sam Moa Holmqvist, Signe Bremer, Susanna Välimäki, Tobias Raun, Ulrika Engdahl, Wibke Straube

    This strand also relates to GEXcel research fields Intersectionality, Culture and Society; Bodily Assemblages and Queer Sexualities; as well as the strand Gender in/and the Public Sphere within GEXcel research field Politics and Feminism

  • This field also covers the following emerging research strand:

    Trans Ecologies

    Strand chairs: Wibke Straube, Centre for Gender Research (KAU) and Marianna Szczygielska, Department of Thematic Studies/Gender Studies (LIU)/ Department of Gender Studies (CEU, Budapest)

    This strand draws on the burgeoning debates on the intersections between two vitally emergent fields, Transgender Studies and Environmental Humanities. Whereas Environmental Humanities present a critical angle in theorising the new era of the Anthropocene, it is crucial to consider this materialised temporality through the lens of Transgender Studies. Given that scientific narratives and representations are still deeply embedded in cisnormative and heteronormative regulations of human and nonhuman animals, influencing the ideas about nature, sex, and embodiment, trans-specific interventions into the discourses of Environmental Humanities are of high relevance in current debates in Feminist Posthumanities and related fields such as Animal Studies, Human Geography, Feminist STS, Feminist New Materialism, Ecocriticsm, Object Oriented Ontology, Affect Theory. From this interdisciplinary perspective figures of the human and the nonhuman are intimately entangled in a complex history of colonialism, environmental exploitation, and medical-scientific practices, forming a rich trans-ecology suffused with power relations. It is a vital objective of this strand to consider the implications of queer and trans* scholarship for the practices, embodiments, aesthetics and ethics of the Anthropocene. The material-discursive practices that explore the more-than-human world and critically tackle the boundaries between human and non-human matter are the focus of this strand.

    This strand also relates to GEXcel research field Feminist Posthumanities; particularly to the strand Environmental Humanities in Feminist Arts and Sciences.