Course Catalog

01:888:215 Introduction to Transgender Studies

Course Description

This survey of transgender studies maps transgender as an emerging subject and object of study in the twenty-first century. Studying knowledges produced about transgender across medicine, history, anthropology, and women’s and gender studies, we look at emerging transgender social practices as embedded in dynamics of race, class, sexuality, nationality and ability. The questions we ask in this course include the following: What does the word “trans” mean, and in its multiple meanings, how does it open up space to imagine new possibilities of becoming? How does “trans” illuminate the institutional constraints on subjectivity on everyone’s gender, and how does it relate to feminist and queer understandings of gender and power? How are transgender and transsexuality emerging as new identities with claims to medical care, rights, and recognition globally in the twenty-first century? What concerns are emerging as central to trans community formation, and for whom does the new visibility of trans identity function best? What trans and gender non-conforming communities, practices, and immigration flows are taking place outside the United States, and how do they inflect a global trans culture? We will frame our discussions of transgender social formations within historical, political, and economic contexts, and examine how transnational flows of global capital impact transgender and gender non-conforming identities. The readings reflect a range of disciplinary voices, including diverse forms of scholarship like memoir and manifesto, as well as film, art, graphic novels, blog posts and vlogs.

Learning Goals

Women’s and Gender Studies Department learning goals met by this course:

  • Effectively communicate orally and in writing and engage in critical analysis of words and the world
  • Interrogate cultural stereotypes and naturalizations of hierarchies of difference
  • Analyze power dynamics from the micro-level to the macro-level
  • Undertake innovative research and knowledge production
  • Devise creative strategies to promote social change
  • Collaborate across differences with others in course work, co-curricular activities, and in life

Learning goals specific to this course:

  • Demonstrate the capacity to name, understand, and use critical tools used in transgender studies
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the critical meanings of key terms: transgender, gender identity, sex, gender non-conforming, medicalization, subjectivity, rights discourse, transnationality, somatechnics, etc
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how concepts of gender transformation have differed across history and geography, and particularly how the concept of transgender and transsexuality are key to thinking about 21st century U.S. practices of gender transformation
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how transgender theory has been influenced by, and draws on, other bodies of political and theoretical theory: feminist theory, queer studies, theories of bodies and technology, etc.
  • Demonstrate skill in researching, planning and writing papers, incorporating an analytical understanding of key concepts in the course
  • Demonstrate the capacity to form your own opinion within debates about transgender studies, drawing on perspectives from inside and outside of class