Youth Beyond the Binary (SCMS 2022)

deadline for submissions: 
August 10, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Society for Cinema and Media Studies
contact email: 

This panel for SCMS 2022 (March 31-April 3) seeks scholars drawing together work in media studies, queer/gender theory, and youth culture to explore representation “beyond the binary” of male/female and heterosexual/homosexual. We are particularly interested in trans/non-binary youth representation and authorship, but also those with queer, genderqueer, pansexual, intersex, and asexual identities.

Cultural changes around gender and sex over the past few decades have clearly begun to transform both public discourse and media representations of non-cisgender and non-heterosexual individuals—including youth. In 2019, the World Health Organization changed “gender dysphoria” to “gender incongruence,” removing the concept from the list of mental and behavioral disorders and placing it instead within a chapter on sexual health. In 2018, Hollywood released its first-ever teen film with a queer protagonist—Love, Simon—although trans and non-binary protagonists remain largely missing from mainstream films. And although President Biden has declared "Trans rights are the civil rights issue of our time," 2021 has already proved to be a record-breaking year for anti-trans legislation in the United States. By April, thirty-three states already had introduced over a hundred bills to curtail trans rights—the majority of which target youth. 

In this panel, we seek to draw not only from “knowledge of,” but also “knowledge with,”  encompassing the voices of youth wherever possible. Knowing that adults commonly create the media, shape the narratives, pass the laws, and guide the critical conversations that impact youths’ lives, we recognize the stakes are high for accessing youths’ subjectivity. In seeking to avoid “academic objectification” of youth beyond the binaries, we hope to include papers that address the impact of media not only on discourse but on individuals’ lived realities.  

Topics might include, but are not limited to:
-Youth-produced media that expresses resistance to gender and sex binaries 
-Radical representations of youth subverting gender and sexuality binaries throughout cinema, television, and media history
-Fluidities among genres, characters, and discourses throughout cinema history
-Nonconformities to binaries expressed by youth via social media and other online platforms
-Politicization of gender and sexuality binaries in the media
-Fandoms/audience engagement with youth beyond the binary

Interested panelists should submit an abstract of 300 words, a brief biography, bibliographic sources, and contact information by August 10 to

Notifications will be sent out no later than Aug 16.