Transgender Studies @ Duke

This initiative in the GSF program considers how the emerging field of Transgender Studies has implications for Gender Studies and for the Humanities in general. The initiative includes pedagogical components, post-doctoral fellowships, and events. From Fall 2016 to Fall 2017, a Transgender Studies + Humanities series was funded by the FHI Humanities Futures program.

Trans* Studies Events Spring 2018

January-February 2018 GSF post-doctoral fellow Cam Awkward-Rich.

February 8 2018: Annual Queer Theory Lecture by Susan Stryker.

Trans* Studies Courses Spring 2018

GSF or SXL 89s01: First Year Seminar: Trans Identities & Activism. Prof. Nick Clarkson
Open to first year students. Transgender politics seem to be everywhere, but what does this media attention mean for lived gender self-determination and liberation? Consider the visibility of trans celebrities such as Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, and Caitlyn Jenner; the success of Amazon’s streaming TV series Transparent; and proposals to restrict bathroom usage for trans people. This class rethinks these cultural flash-points through a survey of topics central to contemporary trans identity and activism: media representations of trans lives; the politics of trans medical care; gender policing in public space; the relationship between trans liberation and feminist activism; and many other issues.

GSF 290s.05 or SXL 290s.02 (WF 11:45AM-01:00PM): Reading Trans. Prof. C. Awkward-Rich
From newspaper chronicles of 19th century gender benders to the present-day explosion of transgender poetry, our personal, cultural, and political understandings of gender variance have long been tied to particular modes of text-based representation. Through sustained engagement with such creative work, as well as background reading in trans history and theory, this course will offer a literary history of “trans.” Although we will pull material from across time and genre, we will focus on contemporary writers like Janet Mock and Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Together, we will ask questions about authorship; the relationship between social conditions and representational strategies; the possibilities and limitations of different genres; and, ultimately, what makes literature (and/or literary analysis) trans.

 Transgender Studies + Humanities Series

The Transgender Studies & Humanities project took place over 2016 to 2017. It was motivated by these questions:

  1. How does transgender studies reshape the structuring assumptions of humanistic inquiry?
  2. What are the potential contributions of critical transgender studies—meaning, in general terms, of a humanities approach to trans* existence—outside of the academy, such as to healthcare or advocacy?

Funded by the Humanities Futures Initiative at the Franklin Humanities Institute. Project Directors: Ara Wilson & Gabriel Rosenberg (on leave 2016-17).

Events: Fall 2017

Tuesday September 5th, 5:30 PM, East Duke Parlors, East Duke Building

Dr. Eric Plemons, University of Arizona: Trans Medicine & the Making of a Woman

Wednesday September 6th, 1:30 PM, Duke Medical Center (invitational workshop)
Dialogue between medical staff and Dr. Eric Plemons
Co-sponsored with the Duke Child and Adolescent Gender Care Clinic

October 2017 GSF post-doctoral fellow Nick Clarkson, on contemporary transgender citizenship in a context of U.S. surveillance and security policy.

Past Events

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - 5:00pm
Parlors, East Duke Building
Tuesday September 5th, 5:30 PM, East Duke Parlors, East Duke BuildingDr. Eric Plemons, University of Arizona: "Trans medicine & the look of a woman: Facial Feminization Surgery & the Aims of Trans Medicine."
Friday, February 10, 2017 - 3:00pm
Smith Warehouse - Bay 4, C105 - Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall
Transgender Studies + Humanities Series | Symposium on Race & Transgender Studies | Live stream link - |Co-Sponsored by Humanities Futures initiative @ the Franklin Humanities Institute, Program in Latino/a Studies in the... Read More »
Thursday, December 1, 2016 - 5:30pm
East Duke Parlors
This talk will explore the case of Latisha King, a gender-transgressive 15-year-old who was shot and killed in an Oxnard, California junior high school by a 14-year-old classmate in 2008. Salamon will offer a phenomenological reading of the school and the courtroom to explore the paradoxical nature... Read More »
Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 4:30pm
Ahmadieh Family Conference Room (101 West Duke Building)
Transgender people, like other LGBTQ people, are disproportionality represented in the criminal justice system in the United States. Criminalization of LGBTQ lives frequently results in their incarceration, an imprisonment that may have consequences that are uniquely harsh on transgender prisoners... Read More »

2. Pedagogical Projects

Transgender Studies: Pedagogical Projects


Training in Trans* inclusion in the classroom, April 2017.
Panel & workshop on integrating transgender studies in the Gender Studies Curriculum, April 2017


Spring 2018:
First year seminar in Transgender Studies, GSF/SXL undergraduate course. Instructor: Nick Clarkson
Course in transgender narrative, poetics. Instructor: Cameron Awkward-Rich

Fall 2017:
Transgender cinema. Crosslisted with Literature.

Fall 2016, the Transgender Studies & Humanities project is supporting an undergraduate course, Introduction to Transgender Studies, (Lit 190S-04, WST, SXL). The instructor is Cole Rizki. 

Summer 2016, Duke Data+ undergraduate team, a summer project analyzing data from the 2008-09 National Transgender Discrimination Survey in the Data+ program hosted by iiD at Duke University. A video description can be found here.