Postposttranssexual: Transgender Studies and Feminism

Postposttranssexual: Transgender Studies and Feminism
April 7-10, 2011 Indiana University-Bloomington

This multi-day event focuses on the past, present, and future of transgender studies by celebrating the 20thanniversary of the influential essay that arguably launched the field: Sandy Stone’s “The Empire Strikes Back: A ‘Posttranssexual’ Manifesto,” first published in 1991. It will serve as an opportunity to assess and discuss the relationship between transgender studies, women’s/gender/feminist studies, and LGBT/Queer studies, and to showcase ways in which transgender studies has reframed, intervened in, and extended lines of inquiry in these fields. Like the title of Stone’s essay, which gestured simultaneously in the directions of history and futurity, the conference will be both retrospective and prospective. Stone looked back to the heyday of cultural feminism in the 1970s and 80s, and directly challenged the feminist disparagement of trans people exemplified in Janice Raymond’sTranssexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. Consequently, some work presented at the conference will focus on the still-contentious topics which that version of second-wave feminism lumped together with transgender issues: pornography, prostitution or sex trafficking, BDSM sexuality, and the sexualization of children. It will suggest ways in which transgender studies, over the past two decades, has offered the prospect of new feminist perspectives on these issues. Stone’s essay, in explicitly staking a “post-” position, also opened the question of what is to come next. To a significant degree, the questions pursed under the rubric of “transgender studies” have been motivated by the re-articulations of (post)identity politics that Stone initially proposed; she productively disrupted the containment of critical and broadly relevant issues of embodiment, identity, and technology within the stigmatized, marginalized, minoritized, and highly policed medico-juridical category of trans-sexuality. Consequently, some work at the conference will explore the future directions in which trans communities, trans social justice struggles, and transgender studies as a field of academic inquiry, might now move. Two decades after Stone’s influential intervention, we are in a position to ask what a post-postranssexual framework might look like.

The conference will be held in the new, state-of-the-art IU Cinema and other locations on campus. It will include film screenings and cultural events, conversations between founding figures of transgender studies, and plenary panel discussions with leading scholars in the field. We also anticipate limited opportunities for some attendees to deliver short papers. Confirmed presenters currently include Sandy Stone, Kate Bornstein, and Viennese filmmaker Hans Scheirl. Further details, including additional confirmed speakers, will be forthcoming in the very near future.

To submit an abstract for consideration, or for more information, please contact conference organizer Susan Stryker, Associate Professor of Gender Studies, Indiana University: stryksus(at)

(Postposttranssexual is funded in part by Indiana University Gender Studies, Indiana University College Arts and Humanities Institute, and the Indiana University Cinema. Additional cosponsors are welcome).