Sociologists for Trans Justice (S4TJ) was launched in 2016 as an independent initiative to advance transgender justice in and through sociology. In the past two years, we have worked to raise public awareness about transgender, non-binary, and intersex communities, drawing upon sociological insights in trans and intersex studies. We have pushed the discipline of sociology to take seriously and advance scholarship on trans, non-binary, and intersex communities, and to include and support trans, non-binary, and intersex sociologists (no matter their research interests). You can see more about S4TJ here and in our August 2017 Footnotes essay.
In order to inform the public and our colleagues about our goals and efforts (and to celebrate our victories!), we release a progress report each summer. (See last year’s progress report here.) Below, we are pleased to update you on the progress we have made during the 2017-2018 academic year. This report was prepared by S4TJ founding co-chairs, Drs. Eric Anthony Grollman and Laurel Westbrook; you may reach us at sociologistsfortransjustice [at] gmail [dot] com. And, during the year, you can stay up to date with our efforts through our Google groups listserv.
We hope you will join us for our third annual forum at the American Sociological Association conference in Philly, PA on Sunday, August 12th, 2018, from 8:30-10:30pm EST in room 107AB of the Convention Center (following the ASA Sociologists’ LGBTQ Caucus meeting, 7:30-8:30pm in the same room). During the first half of the meeting (8:30-9:30pm), we will recap progress over the past year and look ahead to the next; the second hour (9:30-10:30pm) is set aside for us to socialize with our fellow trans, non-binary, and intersex folks and our allies in sociology.
S4TJ CO-CHAIRS’ REPORT
(Co-Chairs: Laurel Westbrook and Eric Anthony Grollman)
New Focus on Intersex Studies and Scholars
Beginning in 2017, we made an explicit commitment to advancing scholarship on and raising public awareness about intersex individuals and communities, and supporting intersex sociologists. Moving forward, we are equally committed to intersex justice as we are transgender justice. You will see that reflected in our committee work (below), as well.
S4TJ Co-Chair Positions
In order to minimize burnout and increase leadership opportunities within S4TJ, we have shifted to staggered 2-year terms for the two S4TJ co-chair positions. Following the August S4TJ forum at ASA 2018, Eric Anthony Grollman will roll off as co-chair and shift into a new position (Past Co-Chair). Daniel Laurison will then become the new co-chair (2018-2020), working alongside Laurel Westbrook who will remain co-chair for a third and final year.
2019 ASA Presidential Panel – Transgender Justice
We are pleased to announce that ASA President-elect Mary Romero invited us to organize a presidential plenary at the 2019 ASA annual meeting in NYC. Our tentative line-up for panelists includes Professor Cary Gabriel Costello, Pauline Park of NYAGRA, and LaLa Zannell of the NYC-based Anti-Violence Project. Daniel Laurison will moderate the panel. We are so pleased to be invited to center stage of the ASA conference just a few years into S4TJ’s existence. The 2019 annual meeting will also feature the regular session on Transgender Studies for the second year. Stay tuned for more details about the ’19 ASA meeting.
S4TJ COMMITTEE REPORTS
For the 2017-2018 academic year, our progress was made possible by the hard work of five S4TJ committees: 1) Advancing Trans and Intersex Studies in Academia, 2) Advancing Trans and Intersex Studies at Sociology Conferences, 3) Advancing Public Understanding of Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Issues, 4) Supporting Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Scholars, and 5) Promoting Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Inclusion at Sociology Conferences. We also created additional positions: 1) grants coordinators, and 2) social media coordinators. You can see a description of these positions here.
Advancing Trans and Intersex Studies in Academia
(Committee Co-chairs: Jackie Tabor and Megan Nanney; Committee Members: Chris Barcelos, Xan Nowakowski, Vicky Demos, Anima Adjepong, Rhea Hoskin, Kalani Seaver, and Anne Marie Champagne)
1) #TransJusticeSyllabus is Live!
The primary goal of this committee is to advance scholarship on trans and intersex studies in academe, which includes making such research more accessible to our colleagues. One way that the committee achieved this goal was by creating and launching #TransJusticeSyllabus — a publicly accessible syllabus of recommended sociological articles and books on the subject of transgender justice. You can see the extensive syllabus here. (It can be viewed in its entirety on the S4TJ website and it has also been downloaded from the website 209 times as of May!) The committee will continue to publicize the syllabus, particularly ahead of new semesters/quarters as instructors are developing their courses. Future iterations of the syllabus will include additional articles and books that the committee identifies, as well as potential classroom activities for trans and intersex studies.
2) Trans and Intersex Studies Peer Reviewers List Sent to Sociology Journal Editors
The committee has also worked to increase the likelihood that trans and intersex studies scholars’ submissions to sociology peer-reviewed journals will be reviewed by fellow experts. They created a list of potential peer reviewers for manuscripts in trans and intersex studies, which was sent out to the editors of numerous generalist and specialty journals that publish sociological work in September 2017. (Please add your name to our list of potential reviewers here!) The committee aims to continue expanding this list, and sending it to journal editors every fall.
3) Trans and Intersex Studies Professional Development Resources
The committee has worked to create professional development opportunities for trans and intersex studies scholars. In particular, they created an online list of resources that capture opportunities for funding, training, and networking. You can see the list here. The committee will continue to expand this list in the future.
4) Addressing Transphobic Research
A final goal of this committee is to address scholarship that is hostile toward trans individuals and communities — work that fails to engage with the field of trans studies and/or that is based upon scholars’ ignorance about trans issues. One way to combat such work was to create a short primer on trans issues, which the committee has called “Trans Affirmation 101.” This document provides an overview regarding trans identity, inclusion, justice, and resources for peer reviewers on papers that address trans topics. The Affirmation sheet has since been distributed and advertised at regional and national conferences, such as at the winter 2018 Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) meeting, Commission on the Status of Women meeting at the United Nations (UN) in March 2018, and Salisbury, Maryland Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The committee plans to advertise this informative sheet during the August ASA meeting. They will look for other protocols for addressing hostile research as it arises.
Advancing Trans and Intersex Studies at Sociology Conferences
(Committee Co-Chairs: Andrea Miller and R. Plante; Committee Members: Brandon Andrew Robinson, Kate Averett, Ashley Woody, Jessica Herling, Tony Silva, Griffin Lacy, and Cristina Khan)
1) More Opportunities to Present Trans Studies Research at ASA
To increase opportunities for trans and intersex scholars to present their scholarship, the committee emailed organizers of ASA sessions to encourage them to accept submissions on trans, non-binary, and intersex topics. Many organizers were receptive. While we cannot know what impact this request had, we do see an increase in the number of trans-related events at the 2018 ASA annual meeting in Philly, PA — a significant increase from the previous three annual meetings and likely those before, too.
2) ASA 18 Session on Trans and Non-Binary Topics
The committee successfully proposed a Sexualities session on the intersection of gender identity and sexualities at the upcoming ASA meeting. The details for this session are below:
“Trans and Non-Binary Sexualities”
Sat, August 11, 10:30am to 12:10pm, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Level 4, Franklin Hall 4. Organizer: Lain A. B. Mathers; Presider: B. B. Buchanan; Discussant: J. E. Sumerau.
- “‘But am I a woman?’: Dimensions of sexual and gender fluidity among LGBTQ+ millennials.” Bailey Troia, University of Virginia
- “(Dis)Owning Exotic: Navigating Race, Intimacy, and Trans Identity.” Shantel Gabrieal Buggs, Florida State University
- “Redoing Sexuality.” Helana Darwin, Stony Brook University
- “‘They’re Not the Same Thing’: Analyzing Methods of Meaning Making for Pansexual Individuals.” Ashley Green, University of South Florida
3) Advice on Teaching Trans and Intersex Studies
Finally, the committee also successfully proposed a teaching panel at the upcoming ASA Sexualities Preconference (Sexualities, Race & Empire, August 9-10). The details for this panel (#30) are below:
“Incorporating Trans and Intersex Concepts and Activities into the Sociology Classroom”
PISB 104, Friday August 10th, 3:30-4:50pm EST; Organizer: Andrea Miller
- “What Do You Mean, My Pronouns?: First-Day Activities in the Classroom.” Clare Forstie, Farmingdale State College
- “Using Trans and Intersex Scholarship in a Non-Gender/Sexuality Course.” Jamie Becker, California State University, Sacramento
- “Using Trans and Intersex Scholarship and Activities in the Intro to Sociology Classroom.” Liz Coston, Virginia Commonwealth University
- “Introducing Intersex Issues and Advocacy in the Sociology Classroom.” Cary Gabriel Costello, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Advancing Public Understanding of Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Issues
(Committee chair: Piper Sledge; Committee members: Moushumi Choudhury, Dawne Moon, Cary Gabriel Costello, Jay Irwin, Jaime Hartless, Austin Johnson, Nik Lampe, An Sasala, and Jaime Becker)
1) Directory of Experts in Trans and Intersex Studies
The primary goal of this committee is to make sociological insights from trans and intersex studies available beyond the paywalls of academic journals and college classrooms. In order to maximize accessibility of trans and intersex studies scholars’ expertise outside of academia, the committee continues to maintain the directory of experts found on the S4TJ website (here). Be sure to add your name to the list of experts here!) The list is particularly useful for the press, who are increasingly looking for sociologists to weigh in on news stories about trans individuals and communities.
2) Increasing Campus Visibility of Trans and Intersex Studies Experts
To supplement the aforementioned list of experts, the committee also aimed to help trans and intersex studies scholars increase their visibility on their own campuses. They created an email template that can be shared with scholars’ public relations and media offices. The email template was sent to the S4TJ listserv earlier this year, and it is available online here.
3) Plans for an S4TJ Blog
The committee began exploring the creation of a S4TJ blog, where trans and intersex studies scholars can regularly write short, accessible, timely pieces on trans and intersex issues for public audiences. Such pieces would allow us to place sociological insights about trans and intersex issues into local, national, and international conversations about these communities; we would be making ourselves relevant to events and crises as they occur. Given the amount of work that goes into such an endeavor, S4TJ will likely create a separate committee for 2018-2019 devoted to launching a new blog.
Supporting Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Scholars
(Committee Co-Chairs: Jordan Forrest Miller and Lindsey Wilkinson; Committee Members: alithia skye zamantakis, Alex Hanna, J. E. Sumerau, Jennifer Pearson, Natalie Ingraham, Simone Kolysh, Sonny Nordmarken, Rebecca Ewert, and Daniel Laurison)
1) Best Practices for Supporting Trans, Non-Binary, and Intersex Students and Faculty
One way that this committee aims to support trans, non-binary, and intersex scholars is by providing sociology departments with tips on “best practices” for offering such support at the departmental level. As a preliminary step, committee member alithia zamantakis wrote a blog post for WriteWhereItHurts.net on best practices, which you can see here. When the best practices guide is ready, the committee plans to make available infographics and downloadable PDFs on the S4TJ website and through other blogs and social media outlets, and send them directly to department chairs.
2) S4TJ Mentoring Program for Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Junior Scholars
After a successful first year of the S4TJ mentoring program, the committee has recently initiated work to run the program again for a second year. They reached out to mentee-mentor pairs to find out what worked and what did not work in the first year of the S4TJ mentoring program. From this feedback, they created a best practices guide for mentoring, which they have shared with existing mentor-mentee pairs. In Year 2, they plan to make expectations for mentoring relationships clearer, and have created a listserv and mailing address (s4tjmentoring [at] gmail [dot] com) to improve communication with S4TJ mentors and mentees.
Trans, non-binary, and intersex graduate students and junior professors, if you would like to request a mentor, please sign up here by July 1st (note: the link may load slowly, so please be patient!). If you would like to mentor a trans, non-binary, or intersex grad student or junior scholar, please sign up here by July 1st (note: the link loads slowly!).
3) Survey of Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Sociology Graduate Students
Finally, this committee continues its work to create and administer a survey on the needs and experiences of trans, non-binary, and intersex sociology graduate students. They have been working over the past few months to implement feedback provided by other S4TJ members, including greater attention to intersex graduate students. And, additional feedback was collected and implemented through pilot studies with committee members’ colleagues. After one more round of piloting, the committee will seek IRB approval to then launch the survey on Qualtrics. Ultimately, data from this survey will help to articulate the challenges faced by trans, non-binary, and intersex sociology grad students and ways in which the discipline and sociology departments can better support these students.
Promoting Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Inclusion at Sociology Conferences
(Committee Chair: Emilia Lombardi; Committee Members: Emily McKendry-Smith, Kate Jenkins, Lain A. B. Mathers, Kit Myers, Sarah Miller, Spencer Garrison, Lori Puopolo)
1) Gender Inclusive Restrooms at ASA 2018
One major focus of this committee has been to work with ASA to increase trans, non-binary, and intersex inclusion and support at sociology, conferences particularly ASA annual meetings. This includes the ongoing effort to ensure that ASA conferences provide accessible gender inclusive restrooms. The committee worked with Jason Orne to secure such facilities at the ASA meeting in Philly, PA. Signs will be posted to note which restrooms are gender inclusive, using signage that is much more clear and consistent than in past years. We have invited Jason to write a blog post ahead of the ASA conference to describe where these restrooms will be in the Philly Convention Center; ideally, this will help to take the burden off of conference attendees to search for inclusive restrooms. Broadly, our hope is to push ASA to create standard protocols for gender inclusive and accessible restrooms so that their availability and visibility does not vary from year to year.
2) Pronouns on ASA Conference Badges
The committee sent a proposal to the ASA Council to include ASA conference attendees’ pronouns on conference badges. Proposed options include: He/Him; She/Her; They/Their; Ze/Zir; Ze/Hir; Just use my name; Pronouns not listed above [specify in text box]. For the 2018 annual meeting, ASA will again provide the small stickers onto which one can write in their pronouns. However, as we saw in 2017, the stickers are primarily used by trans, non-binary, and intersex attendees, as well as some allies to these communities; this pattern creates a dynamic wherein specifying one’s pronouns is the exception rather than the usual practice. We have been informed by ASA that, upon having your conference badge printed out, you may add any details you would like (including pronouns, Twitter handles, etc.). However, this committee will continue to work to make collecting and printing attendees’ pronouns the standard practice at all ASA conferences. In addition, the committee continues to brainstorm how to improve the ways in which ASA collects demographic information from its members — particularly with regard to sex, gender identity and expression, and sexual identity.
3) Social Event for Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex ASA Conference Attendees
Finally, to increase social spaces for trans, non-binary, and intersex ASA conference attendees, this committee has partnered with the ASA Sociologists’ LGBTQ Causus on its annual social event. Please stay tuned for more details!
(Grants Coordinators: Lydia Dana and Cal Garrett)
1) Grant Opportunities for Research On and By Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Individuals
Our grants coordinators have created an index of funding opportunities for trans and intersex identified scholars and trans, non-binary, and intersex studies scholars. This list focuses on those funding sources that may be more specifically interested in trans and intersex studies and/or supporting trans, non-binary, and intersex scholars. To ensure that all applicants have maximum efficacy with their time and energy when securing funding, the S4TJ grants coordinators contacted agencies and foundations who fund grants to clarify the eligibility of projects a) on trans, non-binary, and/or intersex topics and b) which employ sociological methods and frameworks. They intend to publish the index on the S4TJ website in the near future.
2) Training on Obtaining Grants for Trans and Intersex Studies Research
A second way that our grants coordinators have worked to increase trans, non-binary, and intersex identified scholars’ and trans and intersex studies scholars’ likelihood of securing grants is through a prospective workshop on funding. They will submit a proposal for a panel of five scholars who have obtained grant funding for the 2019 annual meeting in NYC. The following are potential questions that would be posed to the panelists:
- What kinds of framings have you observed to be most successful for transgender and intersex studies projects receiving funding from prominent agencies and programs? Smaller/lesser known foundations and sources?
- How have you selected funding sources for which to apply for support for transgender and intersex studies and scholarship?
- What aspects of framing a project or application have proven most important in your experience for making transgender and intersex studies and scholarship legible as necessary, timely, and relevant to funders? (i.e. generalizable contribution to scholarship, social justice outcome)
- How have you specifically engaged with questions of terminology and audience in writing grant applications for transgender and intersex studies and scholarship?
Social Media Coordinators
(Social Media Coordinators: Jordan Forrest Miller, alithia skye zamantakis, and Jaime Hartless)
1) S4TJ on Facebook
Our social media coordinators have been busy keeping our Facebook account active with a variety of content, including academic-related posts, current trans-related news, and opinion pieces. The committee has been intentional about sharing intersectional content that highlights other movements (e.g., police brutality, immigration rights, reproductive health, etc.), especially where those issues intersect with trans, non-binary, and intersex justice. S4TJ’s Facebook page currently has 1,376 likes.
2) S4TJ on Twitter
At present, our Twitter account automatically tweets our Facebook posts, with only rare unique tweets. We currently have a more modest 245 followers. As such, the committee plans to increase its use of Twitter to maximize S4TJ’s presence and engagement with other trans-, non-binary-, and intersex-related academic organizations and trans and intersex activists and scholars on Twitter.