Women's studies/Trans Perspectives in the Early 21st Century

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

This course is all about the subjective experiences of trans people, and their perspective of their place in the wider world.

As it is a women's studies course, there will be a focus on trans women. However, there will also be some discussion regarding trans men, as they are sometimes also included in the feminist movement.

At the moment, this course is all about the narratives and experiences of contemporary trans women, because we are living in the early 21st century. However, it is also intended that this can evolve into a trans history course in future decades. (It is anticipated that, by that time, a 'contemporary' trans narratives course will need to be re-developed from scratch, as the social context surrounding trans lives would have shifted substantially.)

Lectures[edit | edit source]

An Introduction to Trans Lives[edit | edit source]

An overview about trans lives, including the diversity of the trans community and trans narratives, barriers trans people often face in their everyday lives, and some statistics regarding trans people in the US and around the world.

Experiences of Trans Youth[edit | edit source]

In-depth focus on the experiences and narratives of school-aged and college-aged trans people. Readings: Rethinking Normal; Being Jazz; Becoming Nicole; 3 Movements, 2 Diaries, 1 Trans Woman's Message

Experiences of Trans People of Color[edit | edit source]

In-depth focus on the experiences and narratives of trans people of color in the US and other Western countries. There will be discussion on how the two minority identities may interplay in real life, and the 'double disprivilege' this population often faces as a result. Readings: Redefining Realness

Trans-Exclusionary Feminism and its Impact on Trans Lives[edit | edit source]

The prominence of trans-exclusionary feminism, especially in the past, has meant that trans people and their rights often suffered at the hands of people supposedly fighting for gender equality. This has also meant that a substantial number of trans people hold a sceptical attitude to feminism. There will also be discussion on the practice of some women-only institutions accepting trans men but not trans women, and how trans people perceive this treatment.

Moving Towards a Trans-Inclusionary Feminism[edit | edit source]

This lecture is an extension of the previous one, discussing how, as the feminist movement as a whole moves towards a more trans-inclusionary stance, past wounds caused by trans-exclusionary feminism can be healed. Readings: Excluded; 3 Movements, 2 Diaries, 1 Trans Woman's Message

Trans Identities Around The World[edit | edit source]

Outside the Western world, trans identities are often defined and experienced differently. This lecture will explore the history of trans identities in native American culture, Pacific Islands culture and South-east Asian culture, and the contemporary situation for trans people in these regions.

Readings[edit | edit source]

  • Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt

A biography of a trans young person living in the early 21st century, also describing the legal battles she and her family went through. Students should reflect upon and discuss how the broader legal and political landscape can affect LGBT lives, and how LGBT voices can help change that landscape.

  • The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

A book about the first documented case of sex reassignment, which took place before WWII. It has been noted that Lili's narrative is quite different from the typical narrative of trans people today. How do they differ? And how much of this difference is due to the different social context?

  • 3 Movements, 2 Diaries, 1 Trans Woman's Message by TaraElla

A fictional biography of a young trans woman living in the early 21st century, based on real life experiences of trans women living in this period. Features some exploration of the mixed feelings some trans women have towards the feminist movement. Also traces the development of the marriage equality movement in the Western world, and explores how queer people trapped in the politics of it all may see it. Students should reflect upon and discuss how trans-exclusionary feminism has impacted the trans community, and the ways a more trans-inclusive feminism may be able to heal those wounds.

  • Rethinking Normal by Katie Hill

An autobiography of a young trans person.

  • Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings

An autobiography of a young trans person.

  • Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

An autobiography of a trans woman of color.

  • Excluded by Julia Serano

There is extensive discussion on how queer and trans women are often excluded from feminist movements, and how such movements can be made more inclusive.

  • Whipping Girl by Julia Serano
  • Outspoken by Julia Serano
  • Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty by Helen Boyd