Monday, March 09, 2009
By Alex Berg
On Friday afternoon, there was standing room only in the Goldwin Smith English Lounge as Prof. Masha Raskolnikov, English and feminist, gender, & sexuality studies introduced TransRhetorics, a conference exploring interdisciplinary approaches within the field of Transgender Studies and the rhetorics that represent transgender lives.
“… Trans studies remains a relatively new field, even if many of us can make the argument that transgender people have an ancient history in many if not all of the world’s cultures. The relative newness of transgender studies as an academic field means that we, here, are still figuring out what the field is going to look like and where it’s going to go,” said Raskolnikov, who is also the director of lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender studies program.
The conference that took place Friday through yesterday included two keynote speakers and seven thematically organized panels with topics ranging from the medical treatment of intersex bodies to the Employment Non-discrimination Act to Nietzsche and transphobia. Approximately 20 panelists from a wide array of disciplines and backgrounds came from across and beyond the country to present papers, including invited speakers Paisley Currah, Leah DeVun, Shannon Minter law ’93, Vic Muñoz, Matt Richardson, Gayle Salamon and Prof. Susan Stryker, gender studies at Indiana University.
Stryker, an Emmy-award winning director of “Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria,” gave the first keynote in Lewis Auditorium on Friday night. Stryker, whose talk was titled “We Who Are Sexy”: The Transsexual Whiteness of Christine Jorgensen in the (Post)Colonial Philippines,” showed clips of the Filipino film We Who Are Sexy, a 1960s movie about seven gender deviant effeminate brothers, and discussed a cameo made by Christine Jorgensen, a 1950s international transsexual celebrity, in the film.
Stryker expounded on how Jorgensen’s Eurocentric transsexuality interacted with the local, Filipino transsexuality, and the implications of Eurocentric domination in a postcolonial context.
Minter, the lead counsel for the same-sex marriage case in the California Supreme Court and legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, presented the paper “Category Mistakes: Why Gender Theory Should Not Guide Transgender Advocacy” in the second keynote on Saturday evening. . . .Read More
9 March 2009
New Delhi: Besides “ladies” and “gents”, public lavatories in Chennai may soon offer a third option — for transgenders. The Chennai Municipal Corporation has set aside Rs 45 lakh for a pilot project to build three such lavatories for transgenders in the city.
While the construction is expected to begin after the polls, the officials have already identified areas with a considerable transgender population in south and central Chennai. The first will be built in Saidapet, where it will cater to those living in Kothamedu, Theedeer Nagar and Athuma Nagar.
Each lavatory, with both male and female urinals for those who have undergone sex change as well as those who are yet to do so, is estimated to cost about Rs 12-15 lakh. Muncipal Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni said that more such toilets would be built, depending on the response.
For the moment, the response has been rather mixed. While there are some who have welcomed the move, many feel that it would lead to more isolation of the transgender community.
“I don’t agree with this. We want to mingle with the mainstream. We don’t want to be separated like this,” said Aasha Bharathi, president of the Tamil Nadu Aravanigal Association. “Using separate toilets will open the way for discrimination. We want to be considered as females. In our hearts, we are women.”. . .Read More
THE history of science could have been so different. When Charles Darwin applied to be the "energetic young man" that Robert Fitzroy, the Beagle's captain, sought as his gentleman companion, he was almost let down by a woeful shortcoming that was as plain as the nose on his face. Fitzroy believed in physiognomy - the idea that you can tell a person's character from their appearance. As Darwin's daughter Henrietta later recalled, Fitzroy had "made up his mind that no man with such a nose could have energy". Fortunately, the rest of Darwin's visage compensated for his sluggardly proboscis: "His brow saved him." . . .Read More