Call for Panelists: Transgender Identity Politics

deadline for submissions: 
November 17, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Trans(form)ing Queer: The 11th Annual DC Queer Studies Symposium
contact email: 

In 2016, a viral The New York Times op-ed by political scientist Mark Lilla called for “The End of Identity Liberalism,” the political formation putatively at the root of Donald Trump’s election. The author claimed the U.S. must enter a “post-identity liberalism” in order to avoid the rampant fascism of modernity. He emphasizes majoritarian logics in order for progressives to center “the issues that affect a vast majority of them” as focusing on identity “can drive potential allies away,” providing the example of bathrooms being tiresome for (cisgender) voters to hear about. Identity in this widely debated article served as a canvas for the anti-queer, anti-trans epistemologies of anti-identitarian liberalism to materialize within the visible mainstream. The normalization of such anti-identity rhetoric is not anything new, but the inclusion and singling out of transgender people within it is. Correspondingly, this explicit example of binding anti-identity rhetoric to the abjectified transgender body is a more recent emergence that we wish to investigate within this panel. How does transgender identity appear within the neoliberal epistemologies of the contemporary political climate as something regressive or reactionary? How does this disrupt the trans community’s ability to organize and assemble? This panel will be presenting original scholarship complicating the states and conceptualizations of identity politics.

While Lilla’s article provides a look into a popular view on the failure of identity to mobilize individuals under liberal regimes, this panel will explore identity’s generative, problematic, and sometimes unintelligible relationship with transgender assemblage, philosophy, and politics. It will also question the often polemical divisions between queer and transgender identity politics. Transgender is frequently interpreted as a much more tangible or “visible” identity than queer. However, unlike queerness, transgender is always already an identity, politic, and community at once. How might the newfound emergence of an intelligibility of transness affect the community and its relationship with other movements against disciplinarity and regulation during this time of assimilation and ontological capture?

This panel will serve to critically evaluate these popular understandings of the politics of identity.We are seeking critical theoretical inquiry into the topic of identity politics and the transgender movement, heavily focusing on the implications of transgender identity within the contemporary political, organizational, and interpersonal climate. In particular, we are looking for critical discussions related to the following topics:


  • The formation of transgender identity (racial, historical, individual, etc)
  • Transgender identity in the 2016 U.S. elections
  • Proliferation of trans/nonbinary/gender identities
  • Black transgender community politics (and subjugation under white trans liberalism)
  • Telos beyond the politics of identity visibility and erasure
  • “Snowflake” rhetoric
  • Navigating anti-identity, postidentity, and identity abolitionist politics
  • The pinning of transgender issues against queer issues within academia through identity politics
  • Transgender as a deterritorialized western formation
  • Defining transgender as an identity or movement
  • Transgender rhetorics of neoliberalism and individualism
  • Assimilationist and mainstreaming politics in relationship to the reification of identity
  • Liberal erasure and suppression of transgender identity
  • Teleology of defining transgender (gatekeeping, potential for assemblage, etc)
  • Transgender fascism and support for Trump among transgender people
  • Transgender in conversation with Marxism, Leninism, or other radical political foundations
  • Other topics related to the politics of transgender identity

Please submit 250 word abstracts, a short panelist biography, and 1-2 page CV to Eli Erick at by November 17th, 2017.