Reenvisioning Transgender

deadline for submissions: 
December 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Bodies of Knowledge 2020 Conference
contact email: 


April 9-10, USC Upstate 

Call for Papers: 250-word abstracts due Dec. 1, 2019 by email to Dr. Lisa Johnson (


Bodies of Knowledge is an LGBTQ-themed event founded in 2008 in memory of Sean Kennedy, a youngman who was killed inGreenville in 2007. This biennial event aims to create a safer,more understanding community for everyone by offering high-quality presentations that change the conversation about LGBTQexperience in the Upstate and beyond, thereby improving the climate of the Upstate for its LGBTQ youth and promoting civil and well-informed discussionaround sexuality and nonconforming gender identities.


The 2020 event will focus on the politics, culture, and health issues surrounding the transgendercommunity. According to a 2016 Williams Institute report, there are an estimated 21,000 transgenderadults living in the state of South Carolina. Transgender people face significantly more challenges than other members of the LGBTQ+ community. In a 2018 report entitled “Understanding LGBTQ Needs inSpartanburg County,” transgender and genderqueer respondents commented that the Upstate region“needs improved education on transgender identities and improved access to transgender-specifichealth care needs.” Bodies of Knowledge 2020 contributes to this goal of improving the local climate for transgender people in the Upstatethrough presentations and dialogue among scholars, artists, and community organizers.


The organizers of Bodies of Knowledge 2020 invite proposals for individual conference papers, panels with 3-5 conference papers, informal roundtable panels, creative presentations (e.g., poetry, spoken word, creative nonfiction, photography exhibits, other art installations), and tabling by community organizations. We welcome participation from

undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and community organizers. Proposals may address topics raised by the keynoters—trans community organizing, Black transgender feminism, trans childhoods, trans theorizing about gender-markers on legal documents—or may respond more broadly to the theme of reenvisioning transgender lives, cultures, politics, media visibility, and so on.

The sky is the limit. Let your creativity be your guide. 

Sample topics include but are not limited to:

POLITICS—Transgender Tipping Point and Beyond: What is the state of transgender politics now, and how has it changed since the tipping point was announced by Time magazine in 2014?What key fronts are trans activists are currently working on? What role are transgender politics playing in discourse surrounding the 2020 U.S. presidential election?What else?

MEDIA REPRESENTATIONS—Live. Work. Pose!: How has Ryan Murphy’s award-winning series, Pose, changed the landscape of trans representation on television? What is the cultural work of this show?How does it compare to previous representation milestones (e.g., Transparent, Orange Is the New Black)? What is to be made of its relationship to its source material, Paris Is Burning? And of the cultural shift toward featuring trans actors—the extraordinary Mj Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson, and Indya Moore, in particular—in trans roles? What other contemporary or historical trans media representations warrant attention and analysis?Mattel’s Creatable World non-binary doll series? What else?

LACK OF SAFETY—Violence against Trans and Non-Binary People: The New York Timesrecently reported on the possibility that we are facing an epidemic of violence against trans people, with a special focus on murders of Black trans women and the fear being sown in trans communities as a result of these murders. Others have proposed there is a hidden epidemic of violence against transmasculine people as victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and other forms of gender-based violence, and a gap of resources to assist this population. What is being done to address these epidemics and who is doing this work? Can we expect positive change on this public health crisis any time soon? More narrowly, where does the issue of transgender people in prison stand? How have the social problems of putting trans people in prison for self-defense—and in prison with the wrong gender—progressed in the wake of national attention to Cece McDonald’s case in 2012? What is the place of Black trans people in the Black Lives Matter and/or Say Her Name movements against excessive policing of Black populations and police violence against unarmed Black people?What else?

TRANSGENDER AFFECTS—Trans Optimism vs. Trans Pessimism: Building on the previous prompt, what is the effect of counting these murders and detailing their gruesome horror? In contrast, what about the effect of stories featuring dreamy portraits of trans love? In other words, how do positive and negative cultural narratives about transgender people serve or undercut the interests of the everyday lives of trans and non-binary people? Drawing on scholarly discussions of queer optimism and queer pessimism, as well as Afro-pessimism and Afro-optimism, and never forgetting the purposeful figure of the feminist killjoy, this prompt invites philosophical reflection on trans optimism or trans pessimism, or, more broadly, on the politics and felt-experience of transgender affects. What happens (personally or politically) when we get emotional about trans lives? To what uses can we put these emotions?What else?

TRANSGENDER U—Problems and Best Practices in Higher Ed: Are transgender and non-binary students being served well by institutions of higher education? In the classrooms, bathrooms, health services, and residential housing options? Beyond identifying problems, what are some “best practices” in higher ed for this population?What’s the ideal from a trans-inclusive perspective; i.e., what aspirations should universities and colleges be cultivating to improve in this area? Are there affinities to be developed on campus between transgender advocacy and disability advocacy, services, and architectural retro-fitting or universal design?What else?

THE LIST GOES ON: Transgender spirituality; transgender health care, health disparities, well-being, and self-care; transgender art, memoir, realist or speculative fictional literary & film representations; transgender linguistics, the institutionalization of “they,” the rise of pronoun indicators on email signatures and name tags; . . .transgender topics beyond our imaginings . . .