Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies

A publication of the Center for Applied Transgender Studies

Volume 1, Issue 1-2

Cover of Current Issue

Volume 1, Issue 1-2

Summer 2022

ISSN 2769-2124

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Whither Trans Studies?: On Fields, Post-Disciplines, and the Need for an Applied Transgender Studies

Thomas J Billard , Avery R. Everhart , Erique Zhang

The institutionalization of transgender studies as a field comes just as the academy has decided that “fields” are a less relevant and more cumbersome aspect of professional academic organization that prevents the kind of theoretical and empirical work needed to make scholarship relevant to contemporary society. A number of areas of intellectual inquiry have, accordingly, shifted to a “post-discipline” model of academic organization. But what would it mean to think of transgender studies as a post-discipline? First, it would mean a turn away from a focus on field-building within the humanities. Second, it would mean insisting upon transdisciplinary collaboration despite the academy’s failure to encourage such collaboration. But perhaps most importantly, it would mean a turn toward addressing the material conditions of transgender existence and the issues transgender people face in the world. In short, it would mean reorienting ourselves toward an applied transgender studies.

Original Article

Surviving COVID-19 in India: Transgender Activism in a Neoliberal-Developmentalist Assemblage

Aniruddha Dutta

Transgender and gender non-conforming people, particularly communities from predominantly working-class and Dalit (oppressed-caste) backgrounds such as kothis and hijras, were among those hit hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The COVID-19 crisis was exacerbated by the policies of the Indian state, which demonstrate an unstable assemblage or conjuncture of neoliberal and developmentalist tendencies, in keeping with long-term systemic patterns in the region. The article situates Indian trans activism during the COVID-19 pandemic within the context of the neoliberal–developmentalist assemblage that characterizes governance in contemporary India and examines the possibilities and limitations of such activism. During the COVID-19 crisis, trans communities and activists contest and negotiate with the state in variable ways, sometimes bolstering and suturing neoliberal and developmentalist modes of governance and sometimes challenging or undermining them, and even playing them against each other. This article traces these varied negotiations and analyzes how they not only enable the survival of trans people through the pandemic, but also demonstrate ways activists may push back against the state’s simultaneous regulation and neglect of their communities.

Original Article

"Of Course, I'm Intimidated by Them. They Could Take My Human Rights Away" : Trans Children's Experiences with UK Gender Clinics

Cal Horton

Gender clinics engaging with pre-pubertal trans children are divided between those that endorse a gender affirmative approach and those that do not. Little evidence is available on how trans children experience non-affirmative gender clinics in early childhood. This study aimed to understand pre-pubertal trans children’s recent experiences in non-affirmative gender clinics in the UK. Data focused on a cohort of trans children who socially transitioned under age eleven. Data were drawn from semi-structured qualitative interviews with ten trans children and 30 UK-based parents of trans children, focusing on children’s pre-pubertal engagement with UK gender clinics. Themes are presented on 1) inappropriate assessment of gender; 2) trans children under pressure; and 3) distress and trauma in UK gender clinics. The article presents evidence of continued pathologisation and problematisation of childhood gender diversity in UK children’s gender clinics. It demonstrates the harms pf the status quo and the need for systemic reform, providing modern affirmative care for younger trans children.

Original Article

Body Image and Eating Behavior in Transgender Men and Women: The Importance of Stage of Gender Affirmation

Gayle Brewer , Laura Hanson , Noreen Caswell

Previous research suggests that transgender men and women are more likely to experience body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Few studies have, however, investigated the manner in which body dissatisfaction and eating behavior are affected by the gender affirmation process. To address this issue, semi-structured interviews were conducted with transgender men and women (N = 22) recruited from British support groups. Participants were aged 19–71 years. Participant sexuality included heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual, and asexual orientations and all participants identified themselves as white. For both transgender men and women, analyses revealed a shift from a focus on psychological wellbeing in the early stages of gender affirmation to physical wellbeing in the later stages. While body dissatisfaction appeared to dissipate as gender affirmation progressed, a common theme across the gender affirmation process was that both transgender men and women engaged in risky behaviors related to transforming body shape and size. Findings highlight the need to consider the influence of gender affirmation when researching the interconnections between attitudes, behavior, and emotions relating to gender identity.

Original Article

"I Have to Decide How Attached to that Future I Feel": Fertility Intentions and Desires Among Transmasculine Young Adults

Alischer Cottrill , Elizabeth Janiak , Allegra Gordon , Jennifer Potter , Madina Agénor

Though many transmasculine individuals pursue pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood in their lifetimes, research on the reproductive health needs of this population remains limited. This study aimed to explore the fertility intentions and desires of transmasculine young adults, as well as the multilevel factors that influence their pregnancy-related decisions. We conducted in-depth interviews with transmasculine young adults aged 18–29 (N = 21) in Boston, MA, USA between February and July of 2018. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a thematic analysis approach involving inductive and deductive coding via a codebook applied by two independent coders. While many participants reported no lifetime desire for pregnancy, a sizable minority expressed some desire to become pregnant in the future. Fertility intentions were shaped by a range of anticipated barriers, including gender dysphoria, difficulty navigating gendered stereotypes about pregnancy, inadequate information about fertility and pregnancy for transmasculine individuals, and a lack of health providers with the training and experience to offer high-quality pregnancy-related care to transmasculine patients. Multilevel interventions that address cisnormative stigma and discrimination in reproductive health care settings, improve patient-provider communication, and increase provider fluency with transmasculine health needs are necessary to facilitate access to the full spectrum of fertility-related services among transmasculine young adults.

Original Article

Moving from Gender Dysphoria to Gender Euphoria: Trans Experiences of Positive Gender-Related Emotions

Kai Jacobsen , Aaron Devor

While trans identities are typically understood through the distress-based concept of gender dysphoria, some trans people use the term gender euphoria to describe their experiences. Broadly defined as positive gender-related emotions, the concept has become more common in trans communities in recent years but has received little academic attention. To fill this gap, we conducted qualitative interviews with five trans individuals. We found that gender euphoria refers to positive emotions resulting from affirmation of one’s gender identity or expression and can include a wide variety of emotions and experiences. Gender euphoria can range from feelings of intense joy accompanying the attainment of milestones in gender transition through to a more consistent sense of calmness and relief occurring later in transition. We contextualize these findings within the gender minority stress model to explore the link between gender euphoria, dysphoria, and health and well-being generally. Our findings emphasize the value of prioritizing euphoria, happiness, and safety in gender-affirming care.

Original Article

Autistics Never Arrive: A Mixed Methods Content Analysis of Transgender and Autistic Autobiography

Noah Adams

This article presents a mixed methods content analysis of autobiographies by transgender autistics (autistic-trans). It incorporates books, anthologies, poems, and prose, including self-published, grey, and professionally published texts up to June 2020. Seventy-one English-language texts in 15 separate books were identified. The first was published in 2003 and the majority have been published since 2013. The most common themes explored individuals’ experience of autism diagnosis, community, coming out (as trans), and gender, with many speaking of being nonbinary, genderless, or using autism-specific genders (e.g., autigender). Notably, these themes, which exemplify those that are important to autistic-trans writers, contrast markedly with the topics of most academic work on autistic-trans lives. These experiences were explored in the context of the double empathy problem, the looping effect, gender performance, and trans healthcare access. These findings can be used to inform future research on the transgender-autistic community.

Original Article

Tipping Points and Shifting Expectations: The Promise of Applied Trans Studies for Building Structural Competency

Austin H. Johnson

In 2021, the United States experienced the most active year on record for anti-trans legislation. In 2022, we are witnessing the renewal of this legislative harassment, with increased success on the part of anti-trans lawmakers. When these bills are passed into law and, importantly, even when they are resoundingly defeated or fail to reach an actual vote, the harmful rhetoric and ideology that is attached to them reverberates throughout trans communities resulting in social and psychological harm for transgender, nonbinary, and gender diverse people. The burden of addressing and offsetting this harm is often placed on the shoulders of other trans people who serve as grassroots leaders in their communities. This article argues that while this support is lifesaving for individual trans people, transformative change requires an increase in structural competency in our mainstream social institutions, and makes the case for applied trans studies as a pathway to that end.

Original Article