Transgender studies

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A subfield of LGBT studies, transgender studies provides an interdisciplinary approach to gender studies, gay and lesbian studies, and sexology by studying the intersections of sex and gender as related to cultural representations, lived experience, and political movements.[1] Interdisciplinary subfields of transgender studies include transgender history, transgender literature and film, transgender anthropology and archaeology, transgender psychology, and transgender health. The discipline emerged in the early 90s in close connection to queer theory.[2] Other non-transgender-identified peoples are often also included under the "trans" umbrella for transgender studies, such as intersex peoples, crossdressers, drag artists, other-gendered or other-sexed individuals, and genderfluid, etc. peoples.


In response to critiques of how transgender issues were represented in gender and gay and lesbian studies, the late 1990's saw an increase in transgender scholarship and the emergence of a specific discipline of academic study.[3] Sandy Stone is a transgender woman whose essay, titled “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto,” and published in 1987 in response to the anti-transsexual book Transsexual Empire, has been cited as the origin of transgender studies.[4] At times a contested field, scholars in transgender studies argue that what positions transgender studies as a unique discipline is the way trans bodies are centered epistemologically in the discipline[5]

Transgender Studies Quarterly, the first non-medical academic journal devoted to transgender issues, began publication in 2014 with Susan Stryker and Paisley Currah as coeditors.[6]

In 2016, through her Foundation, Jennifer Pritzker gave a $2 million donation to create the world’s first endowed academic chair of transgender studies, at the University of Victoria in British Columbia; Aaron Devor was chosen as the inaugural chair.[7]

Teaching Transgender Studies

Sara E. Cooper (Professor of Spanish and Women Studies) applied for a teaching position at California State University at Chico and she received the job, in spite of her focus on Spanish studies.[8] She writes a journal article that highlights the ridicule she sometimes received during her public speeches, but insists on educating her peers "as a matter of personal safety and respect" .[8] Cooper brings up how the LGBTQ community is not as supportive towards certain categories in their community as some of her students are led to believe and while she faced a few challenges in her career, she concludes that teaching Transgender Studies was ultimately life-changing.[8]

Cooper's specialization was initially Women Studies, and from there, she was granted the authority over a course that is exclusive to the LGTBQ community. This mirrors the placement of Transgender Studies within the school curriculum. In Women Studies classes, transgender issues are sometimes taught as an extension of women's issues, and are rarely given attention on their own.[9]

Susan Stryker's anthology, "Transgender Studies Reader" was awarded the Lambda Literary Award in the transgender category.[10]

CeCe McDonald Case

CeCe McDonald was sent to prison after defending herself and her friends from an attacker. The attack consisted of shouting transphobic and racist terms before it took a physical turn.[11] The issue of cisgender privilege arises when CeCe was the only one who was charged; additionally, the case can be analyzed through an intersectional lens due to the racist and cissexist nature of the crime.[11]


  1. "SAGE Reference – Transgender Studies". Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  2. "‘Transgender Studies and Feminism: Theory, Politics, and Gendered Realitie" (PDF). Hypatia – Special Issue: Transgender Studies and Feminism: Theory, Politics, and Gendered Realities. 24 (3). 2009. 
  3. "1998 Transgender Scholarship Proliferates". Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Events. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press. 2007. pp. 650–651. ISBN 1-58765-265-X. 
  4. "24 Americans Who Changed The Way We Think About Transgender Rights". Buzzfeed. July 12, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  5. Bryant, Karl. Transgender Studies. doi:10.4135/9781412964517.n425. 
  7. "Jennifer Pritzker's Foundation Gives $2 Million for Transgender Studies at Canadian University". Tablet Magazine. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Cooper, Sara; Connor James Trebra (2006). "Teaching Transgender in Women's Studies: Snarls and Strategies.". Journal of Lesbian Studies. 10 (1/2): 151–180. doi:10.1300/j155v10n01_08. 
  9. Drabinski, Kate. "Identity matters: teaching transgender in the women's studies classroom". Radical Teacher. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  10. "19th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Johnson, Julia R. (May 2013). "Cisgender Privilege, Intersectionality, and the Criminalization of CeCe McDonald: Why Intercultural Communication Needs Transgender Studies". Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. 6 (2): 135–144. doi:10.1080/17513057.2013.776094.