What is at stake in acknowledging transgender studies’ Anglophone roots in the global North and West? What kinds of politics might emerge from challenging the assumption that biological sex—or the categories “man” and “woman”—is stable and self-evident across time, space, and culture? This collection asks how trans scholarship can decolonize, rather than reproduce, dominant imaginaries of sexuality and gender.
The issue highlights roadblocks as well as unexpected openings in the global circulation of trans politics and culture. A First Nations scholar recovers lost tribal knowledge of non-Eurocentric gender. A Thai trans filmmaker negotiates culturally incommensurable categories of self. Two contributors consider what is lost as the term transgender replaces local, vernacular categories of difference in India. A study of genderqueer childhood in Peru disrupts colonial ethnographer-informant roles, while another author critiques the colonialist ethnography on the sarimbavy, gender nonconforming categories of Madagascar. Another essay follows the global commodity chain of synthetic hormones to explore the biopolitics of transgender bodies and race. Finally, a roundtable discussion among a transnational panel of activists, culture makers, and scholars offers perspectives on decolonizing the transgender imaginary that range from the celebratory to the cynical.
Aren Aizura is Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Marcia Ochoa is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Salvador Vidal-Ortiz is Associate Professor of Sociology at American University. Trystan Cotton is Associate Professor of Gender Studies at California State University, Stanislaus. Carsten Balzer/Carla LaGata is the senior researcher of Transgender Europe and lead researcher of the Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide project.
Contributors: Aren Aizura, Finn Jackson Ballard, Carsten Balzer/Carla LaGata, Karma Chavez, Giancarlo Cornejo, Trystan Cotton, Aniruddha Dutta, Julian Gill-Peterson, Marcia Ochoa, Seth Palmer, Jai Arun Ravine, Lara Rodriguez, Liz Rosenfeld, Raina Roy, T. J. Tallie, Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, Saylesh Wesley, Cindy Wu