Sociologists for Trans Justice (S4TJ) was founded in 2016 by Dr. Eric Anthony Grollman and Dr. Laurel Westbrook as an independent initiative to advance transgender justice in and through sociology. In the past three years, we have worked to raise public awareness about transgender, non-binary, and intersex communities, drawing upon sociological insights in trans, non-binary, 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 2018-2019 academic year. This report was prepared by S4TJ Co-Chairs, Dr. Laurel Westbrook and Dr. Daniel Laurison; you may reach us at sociologistsfortransjustice@gmail.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 fourth annual forum at the American Sociological Association conference in New York, NY on Monday, August 12th, 2018, from 8:00-9:00pm EST in the New York Hilton, Fourth Floor, New York room (following the ASA Sociologists’ LGBTQ Caucus meeting, 7:00-8:00pm in the same room). During the meeting, we will recap progress over the past year and look ahead to the next. After the meeting, there is a happy hour organized by the LGBTQ Caucus and S4TJ at the historic Stonewall Inn (starting at 9:30pm, 53 Christopher Street).

S4TJ CO-CHAIRS’ REPORT

(Co-Chairs: Laurel Westbrook and Daniel Laurison)

S4TJ Chair Position and Executive Council

In order to minimize burnout and to increase the number of voices heard in leadership decisions, starting in 2019-2020 S4TJ will have one Chair and an Executive Council comprised of the Co-Chairs of the three task committees as well as the Past Co-Chair. Following the August S4TJ forum at ASA 2019, Laurel Westbrook will roll off as Co-Chair (after serving for three years) and shift into a new position (Past Co-Chair). Daniel Laurison will remain Chair, working alongside those who volunteer to serve as committee Co-Chairs for 2019-2020. Next year, the S4TJ Chair will be chosen from the Executive Council, maintaining institutional memory.

S4TJ at ASA 2019

Sociologists for Trans Justice organized and/or co-sponsored a number of panels for ASA 2019. We were honored that ASA President Mary Romero invited us to organize a presidential plenary on Transgender Justice. We are so pleased to be invited to center stage of the ASA conference just a few years into S4TJ’s existence. We also co-sponsored a panel with the Sociology of Sex and Gender Section on Intersex Studies, a workshop with the sections on Sexualities, Race, Gender and Class, and Sex and Gender on Equity and Inclusion for Transgender, Intersex, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming Scholars/Scholarship in the Discipline, and a workshop with SWS on Challenges That Members of the Trans, Non-Binary, and Intersex Community May Experience in Seeking Medical Care. In addition, our Professional Organizations Liaison Committee organized a panel on Publishing and Presenting Transgender Studies: Working With Skeptical or Hostile Audiences. In 2018, after prompting by S4TJ, ASA included the first ever regular session on Transgender Studies. In its second year, the regular session on Transgender Studies this year includes two great panels, one on Inequalities, the Life Course, and Problematizing the Ways ‘the System’ Works for Trans People and another on Contested Political Identities and Trans Experiences. Finally, due to the work of the 2017-18 S4TJ Committee on Promoting Trans and Intersex Inclusion at Sociology Conferences, there is now an option to have pronouns listed on ASA badges, and in collaboration with the Committee on the Status of LGBTQ People in Sociology and the LGBTQ Caucus there are a number of gender-inclusive restrooms at ASA this year.

Public Advocacy

In concordance with our mission, we issued a formal statement denouncing the Trump Administration’s proposed redefinition of sex and gender. We also issued a statement in support of Spencer Garrison’s article in Gender & Society and sent a letter of concern to SWS regarding the incident.

S4TJ COMMITTEE REPORTS

For the 2018-2019 academic year, our progress was made possible by the hard work of four S4TJ committees: 1) Advancing Trans, Non-Binary, and Intersex Scholarship, 2) Supporting Trans, Non-Binary, and Intersex Scholars, 3) Advancing Public Understanding of Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Issues, and 4) the Outreach Committee. You can see a description of these positions here. Thank you to all of our committee members for their hard work this year!

Advancing Trans, Non-Binary, and Intersex Scholarship

Co-Chairs: 

  • Danya Lagos
  • Maggie Nanney

Subcommittee 1: Syllabus and Teaching Committee

  • Goals:
    • #TransJusticeSyllabus – update it as needed; publicize to sociologists, trans studies scholars, and the public.
    • Produce additional materials that will encourage people to teach trans, non-binary, and intersex studies scholarship across the discipline. One specific suggestion was sample syllabi sections for different courses (i.e. a section someone could add to intro, social problems, etc., but also any and all other courses taught in sociology…perhaps start with courses based on section names?)
    • Organize conference workshops on teaching trans, non-binary, and intersex studies (this can be panel presentations or “lab” style where folks give each other feedback).
  • Members:
    • Maggie Nanney
    • Carey Jean Sojka
    • Kate Averett
    • Kelsy Burke
  •  Updates:
    • Call for materials was sent to ASA sections (Education, Medical Soc, CBSM, Family, Sex and Gender, Race, Class, and Gender, Religion; Body and Embodiment; Culture; Teaching and Learning; Sexualities); Listserves (SWS, S4TJ; WMST-L; trans-academics; Q-Study) multiple times.
    • We received 32 syllabus submissions, and are still seeking more
    • Webinar updates:
      • Statement of purpose: The purpose of this webinar is to provide inspiration/impetus and examples/concrete tools for sociologists for teaching trans and intersex related content in the sociology classroom, and to give sociologists who may be hesitant to teach trans and intersex related content the confidence to do so.
      • Been in conversation with Diego de los Rios at ASA about the possibility of having ASA co-host the webinar as part of their webinar series, and he is very interested. He did indicate that the webinar would need to be part of the spring series.
  • Next Steps:
    • Finalize collection of items for syllabus, organize #TransJusticeSyllabus into themes and release by January 2020. Committee will search and compile new resources outside of submissions as necessary. Committee will need to decide if new iteration of syllabus will have a theme or if it will repeat readings from previous edition or only new resources.
    • Publish core class section suggestions as supplementary to Syllabus publication in January 2020
    • Continue to collect compendium of classroom activities regarding trans topics and publish online. Future committee members working on this task should look into a potential collaboration with Trails.
    • Ask at the S4TJ meeting at ASA for volunteers who would be interested in being on the panel of speakers for the webinar, as well as for anyone who has example content that they would be willing to share as part of the webinar.

Subcommittee 2: Professional Organizations Liaison Committee

  • Goals:
    • Develop new opportunities to present research in trans and intersex studies at ASA and other sociology conferences. For example, propose ASA sessions on the topic.
    • Work with other subfields in sociology (e.g., ASA sections) to better include trans, non-binary, and intersex studies across the discipline (e.g., ASA sessions, including joint sessions with S4TJ).
    • Expand the membership and the mission of S4TJ to include other national sociology organizations, including: Association of Black Sociologists, Sociologists for Women in Society, Society for the Study of Social Problems, Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, Association for the Sociology of Religion, Humanist Sociology, ASA section pre-conferences and international sociological organizations. Also all of the regional conferences and of the ASA sections.
  • Members:
    • Danya Lagos
    • Sam Allen
    • Jessica Herling
  • Updates:
    • Prepared, submitted, and provided workshop at ASA in New York on Publishing and Presenting Transgender Studies: Working With Skeptical or Hostile Audiences, Tue, August 13, 12:30 to 2:10pm. Presenters include stef shuster, Spencer Garrison, and D’Lane Compton.
    • Nominated committee member Jessica Herling to sit on the Inclusion and Diversity Committee of SWS.

Subcommittee 3: Hostile Work Response Committee

  • Goals:
    • Address sociological research that advances work that is hostile toward or exclusive of trans, non-binary, and/or intersex individuals
  • Members:
    • Ali Greey
    • Heather McKee Hurwitz
  •  Updates:
    • The Trans 101 info-sheet has been updated and list of editors of journals to send to has been prepared; however, in consultation with the committee, the info-sheet will not be distributed to journal editors. Rather, the info sheet is available online at: https://s4tj.com/trans-affirmation-101/
  • Next Steps:
    • Have Hostile Scholarship Report Form published on S4TJ website and advertised on social media.
    • Finalize and circulate reviewer list of potential reviewers to ASA journals and other affiliated journal editors as well as departments in collaboration with Sub-Committee 5
    • Write guide for future committee members on how to best approach responding to hostile research that is reported to S4TJ through form.

Subcommittee 4: Writing Workshop Committee

  • Goals:
    • Put together opportunities for scholars in trans, non-binary, and intersex studies to share writing (including articles, chapters, and grant proposals) and get feedback. This could occur at all relevant conferences as well as virtually.
  • Members:
    • Brandon Andrew Robinson
    • Penny Harvey
  • Updates:
    • We designed a survey to find interests in a writing group, and we formed 3 writing groups based on survey results. These groups are self-managed and are organized according to writing and career stage as well as topic.
  • Next Steps:
    • We will be working on the ASA 2020 workshop proposal in the fall. Many people expressed that actual workshopping papers at a conference may be too much stress, as conferences are already stressful, but this may be an option to consider or discuss again in the future.
    • Continue to maintain and update writing groups with another call for participants in fall
    • Publicize and share facebook writing group.

Subcommittee 5: Peer Reviewer and Grants Committee

  • Goals:
    • Trans, non-binary, and intersex studies peer-reviewers – continue to recruit potential peer reviewers; allow mechanism for continuous sign-up; share list with journal editors; find a way to keep list accessible and updated for the long-term.
    • Grants coordinators: Add to the list of grants for trans, non-binary, and intersex studies scholars and trans and intersex scholars; when needed, apply for grants to fund S4TJ projects.
  • Members:
    • Joss Greene
    • Helana Darwin  
  • Updates:
    • Have updated info from people who were already on the spreadsheet and tested the best ways to update this.
    • Gathered success stories about strategies for getting grants for trans work. Will be presented at Publishing and Presenting Transgender Studies: Working With Skeptical or Hostile Audiences workshop at ASA and will be published online
    • Finished compiling list of department contacts and sent completed outreach letter inviting scholars to add themselves to the list of journal reviewers here: https://s4tj.com/journal-reviewers-directory/
  • Next Steps:
    • Finalize and circulate reviewer list of potential reviewers to ASA journals and other affiliated journal editors as well as departments in collaboration with Sub-Committee 3
    • Write a quick one-page document on best practices for updating reviewer list so next year’s committee doesn’t have to think through this again

Supporting Trans, Non-Binary, and Intersex Scholars

Co-Chairs:

  • Lindsey Wilkinson
  • alithia zamantakis

Mentorship Subcommittee

  • Tasks:
    • Mentoring program – run program; provide mentors with best practices for supporting trans, non-binary, and intersex graduate students and junior faculty. Work with other sociology mentoring programs to better include and support trans, non-binary, and intersex scholars.
  • Members:
    • Natalie Ingraham
    • Liddy Hope

The mentorship subcommittee revised and updated mentorship documents, and in July, they sent out mentorship program surveys fro 2019-2020 and have been collecting responses. They are currently reviewing those surveys and making matches. Matches will be sent out the first week of August, prior to ASA.

Best Practices Subcommittee

  • Tasks:
    • Put together a best practices guide for supporting trans, non-binary, and intersex students (both undergraduate and graduate level).
  • Members:
    • alithia zamantakis
    • Dakota Kane Tangent Raynes
    • Emily McKendry-Smith

The subcommittee reached out to LGBTQ/multicultural centers in the Southeast Conference to see if they had developed best practices that could be used as models/guides for our own. Those that responded did not have trans/nonbinary/intersex best practices but were excited for them to be shared. The Southeast Conference was chosen as a start place

  • February & March: Conducting a review of additional literature published and/or missed since last lit review of best practices in 2016/17. 
  • April and May: Converting current best practices documents into screenreader accessible formats and creating additional best practices guides vis-a-vis research practices, departmental policies, bathrooms, and registrar services (i.e. name/gender marker changes)
  • June and July: Collaborate with the committee in charge of the S4TJ webpage, upload our best practices guide to the page, and disperse links to the page and guides through relevant listservs.

Graduate Student Survey Subcommittee

  • Tasks:
    • Survey on trans, non-binary, and intersex graduate students in sociology: continue to administer, then analyze results, share with the discipline, make recommendations for changes.
  • Members:
    • Simone Kolysh
    • Lindsey Wilkinson
    • Jess Goldstein-Kral
    • Sonny Nordmarken

We opened the survey (titled Transgender and Intersex Graduate Student Survey) on 10/8/2018 and closed it 6/15/2019.  We received 865 responses after circulating the survey via social media and by directly contacting organizations serving graduate students. We tried to reach a diverse range of graduate students in the sciences and humanities across the U.S. We can provide more information about survey responses at ASA.  In July, we sent out 100 $25 gift cards to randomly selected survey participants as indicated in our consent form.

We are now in the process of cleaning, coding, and analyzing the data. Here are our thoughts for next steps: 1) create infographic that we can share online about trans experiences in grad school as a form of public sociology, 2) share the information regarding conference accessibility with ASA so that it can inform conference procedures, and 3) generate a manuscript for submission to peer reviewed journal.

Conferences Subcommittee

  • Tasks:
    • Make sociology conferences safe and empowering for trans, non-binary, and intersex people. This includes pushing sociology organizations to list gender pronouns on conference badges, ensuring that gender-inclusive, accessible restrooms are available at conferences, creating safe spaces for trans, non-binary, and intersex people, and organizing social gatherings for trans, non-binary, and intersex scholars at sociology conferences.
  • Members:
    • Griffin Lacy
    • Ash Scarborough
    • Jenny Pearson
    • Sarah Miller

We gathered information from the largest national and regional Sociology organizations about 1) Gender Neutral Restrooms 2) Pronouns on Badges 3) Safe Spaces 4) Social Events at annual meetings. We were able to collect some information from Midwest Sociological Society (MSS), Eastern Sociological Society (ESS), Pacific Sociological Association (PSA), Southern Sociological Society (SSS), and The Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) and are waiting for an update from the ASA working group (we are corresponding with Jason Orne from that group, and Griffin serves as a liaison). We are compiling this information into a report that will document how and what the major sociology conferences doing to make conferences inclusive, safe, and empowering for trans, non-binary, and intersex people. This includes pushing sociology organizations to:

  • List gender pronouns on conference badges
  • Ensuring that gender-inclusive, accessible restrooms are available at conferences,
  • Creating safe spaces for trans, non-binary, and intersex people, and
  • Organizing social gatherings for trans, non-binary, and intersex scholars at sociology conferences

Our goal is to create a document that can be updated each year and may also offer ideas for improving upon current practices. We plan to have this report finished in time for ASA. The report can also be used to encourage organizations to commit to taking more steps to make conferences inclusive by showcasing what has been done by peer organizations.

Demographics Subcommittee

  • Tasks:
    • Trans- and intersex-inclusive demographics: push ASA and other sociology organizations to collect information on members’ sex, gender identity, and gender expression; ensure that demographic questions cover full gender diversity among ASA members; encourage members to provide this information.
  • Members:
    • Alex Hanna
    • Nik Lampe
    • Alicia VandeVusse

The demographics subcommittee did a lot of work this year, mostly focusing on putting together a proposal to change the gender identity, intersex status, and sexual orientation/identity questions for ASA membership. We were able to obtain input from S4TJ, the Committee on the Status of LGBTQ People in Sociology, the LGBTQ Caucus, and the sexualities section. We also obtained endorsements from these groups, as well as the Sociology of Sex and Gender section, and SWS. The proposal was submitted to the ASA Council and will be considered for adoption at the Annual Meeting this year.

Advancing Public Understanding of Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Issues

Blog Subcommittee

  • Tasks: 
    • Launch a S4TJ blog for trans, non-binary, and intersex studies experts to weigh in on current events that affect the trans, non-binary, and intersex communities.)
  • Members:
    • Cary Costello
    • bee coston

The committee successfully launched a S4TJ blog, where trans, non-binary, and intersex studies scholars can regularly write short, accessible, timely pieces on trans, non-binary, and intersex issues for public audiences. Such pieces allow us to place sociological insights about trans, non-binary, and intersex issues into local, national, and international conversations about these communities, making ourselves relevant to events and crises as they occur. The blog has been a success, garnering more than 800 views in the first three days. The committee welcomes guest posts. Please contact Cary Costello with ideas and suggestions.

Professional Organization Liaison Subcommittee

  • Tasks: 
    • Work with ASA and other sociology organizations to provide expertise on trans, non-binary, and intersex-related current events, court cases (e.g., amicus briefs), and proposed legislation.
  • Members:
    • Aalap Bommaraju
    • Michael Ryan

This committee produced a spreadsheet of 2019 state bills that impact trans rights which could be used to guide advocacy outreach. The committee also compiled a full list of major sociology organizations and their contact information and drafted a letter to be sent to leadership in the major sociology organizations to let them know that we are available to help respond to any anti-trans, anti-non-binary, or anti-intersex actions.

Outreach Committee

  • Web Editor (run the Sociologists for Trans Justice website)
    • Sam Scovill
  • Social Media Coordinators (actively run the Sociologists for Trans Justice Twitter account; regularly post to S4TJ Facebook page) and Liaisons to ASA Committee on the Status of LGBTQ People in the Discipline
    • Máel Embser-Herbert
    • Jaime Hartless

1) S4TJ on Facebook

The social media coordinators have been busy keeping our Facebook account active with a variety of content, including academic-related posts and trans-related news, generally. The committee continues to be intentional about sharing intersectional content that highlights other movements (e.g., police brutality, immigration rights, reproductive health, etc.) where those issues intersect with trans, non-binary, and intersex justice. S4TJ’s Facebook page currently has 1,715 “likes” – an increase of 339 from last year’s report – and 1,742 followers.

2) S4TJ on Twitter

At present, our Twitter account automatically tweets our Facebook posts, with only rare unique tweets. We currently have 549 followers, an increase of 304 from last year’s count of 245 followers. Last year’s report noted that “[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.” While we cannot say that there has been an increase in such use, it is worth noting that we have more than doubled our followers.

3) S4TJ Website

Firstly, I’d (Sam) like to thank Anne Marie Champagne for all her past work on the website and for helping me transition to taking it over, for answering my questions, providing me with useful resources, and lending a hand when any issues came up. This year the website had a successful transition to the new web address (s4tj.com) and much of the website content has been streamlined, making it navigable and accessible to users. It has been great to work with other S4TJ committees to put their ideas and creations (e.g. Letter to the Editor Template, Journal Reviewers Directory Form, and the new Blog) onto our website for them to be accessed and used for other scholars and community members to do trans justice work.