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Author(s): K.J. RawsonAbstract: Louis G. Sullivan, a groundbreaking trans activist who forged some of the earliest trans peer support networks in the U.S., engaged in a series of videotaped interviews between 1988-1990 with psychiatrist Ira B. Pauly. This brief article offers a rhetorical analysis of selections from those interviews in order to introduce readers to Sullivan’s rhetorical strategies for persuading the “gender profession” that it was possible to be both trans and gay or lesbian.
“There is No Question About This and There Never Has Been for Eight Years”: The Public Reception of Christine Jorgensen
Author(s): N. Claire JacksonAbstract: In the 1950s, Christine Jorgensen became the first American to become widely known for medically transitioning, and she remained famous throughout her life. While previous scholarship has treated Jorgensen’s fame as a general acceptance of her trans womanhood, I contend that her attempts to define and present herself as a woman were continually dismissed by mainstream news outlets throughout her life. Through an analysis of three news articles about Jorgensen, I examine the cissexist rhetorical moves reporters frequently make in order to question the authenticity of her womanhood and consider the rhetorical strategies she used to respond to such questioning and assert her gender identity.
Author(s): Morgan DiCesareAbstract: This essay considers debates over intra-community norms of trans sexuality in print publications in the late 1970s. I argue that Anita Bryant’s rise made space for trans rhetors to challenge norms of respectable sexuality within transvestite communities. I show that trans rhetors metonymically invoked Anita Bryant towards a goal of supporting gay liberation within and without trans communities. For these rhetors, it was essential to support gay liberation because Bryant posed a threat not only to gay and lesbian people, but to all trans people regardless of sexuality.
Author(s): Rusty BartelsAbstract: This essay approaches a Critical Trans Pedagogy as informed by the author’s embodied experiences of gender from being an undergraduate student to a faculty member. At the heart of the Critical Trans Pedagogy proposed here is the idea of disclosure. As faculty, I argue that it is our job to alleviate the student’s burden of disclosure by working to remove the assumptions we make about the in/visibility of our students’—and our own—in/visible identities, and that a Critical Trans Pedagogy helps us do this by providing tools to question the norms our assumptions are built from.
Author(s): Lee HibbardAbstract: This article addresses one instructor’s personal experiences as a transgender writing instructor at a major institution. Questions of disclosure, identity, and pedagogy have required my looking beyond the binary of being ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the closet as an instructor, and interrogating how I must repeatedly come out to new students and groups of people. I draw upon work done by scholars engaged in critical examinations of the interplay of transgender identities and pedagogy (Patterson 2016; Keenan 2017) and share my journey as a transgender instructor from the start of my teaching career to my current engagement with both my gender and my pedagogy. I also go a step further into this process by interrogating how my positionality as a white and male-perceived instructor impacts how my transness and pedagogy remain in conversation with each other as I meet new student populations and come out at the beginning of each semester. This pedagogical coming out narrative provides an example of the complex interplay between identity and pedagogy in the classroom, as well as extrapolate concepts that could be useful to other instructors who seek to interrogate and unpack how their own positionalities, disclosures, and identities intersect with their pedagogies.
Author(s): Joshua BarsczewskiAbstract: This paper argues for intentional silence as a form of accountability for cis scholars conducting Trans Writing Studies research. By tracing the publication process of a qualitative research article, I reflect on my own missteps in research design, methods, and interpretation. I use these reflections to suggest cis scholars consider the limits of their own knowledge and reflect on how their desire to be allies can mitigate the voices and needs of trans research study participants.
Toward Trans Rhetorical Agency: A Critical Analysis of Trans Topics in Rhetoric and Composition and Communication Scholarship
Author(s): GPat Patterson & Leland G. SpencerAbstract: This article offers a critical literature review of the emerging discipline of trans rhetorics. To acknowledge common points of interest, as well as interdisciplinary collaborations that cut across both fields, the authors examine published scholarship on trans rhetorics emerging out of rhetoric & composition and communication. The literature review is organized around the following four topics: trans representations in popular culture, trans activism, trans rhetorical pedagogies, and trans rhetorical methodologies. While the authors address the emerging trends and gaps in trans rhetorical studies, the authors also turn readers’ attention to the socio-political consequences of academic research, arguing that researchers should prioritize projects that emphasize trans people’s rhetorical agency.
Happiness, Biopolitics, and Transmedicine’s Necessary Contradiction: Rhetorics of Normalcy and the Narratives of Gender Transition
Author(s): D.T. McCormickAbstract: This article rhetorically analyzes Andrea Long Chu’s controversial New York Times opinion piece “My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy” by contextualizing its epideictic appeal against the continuing history of gatekeeping and diagnostic restrictions within transgender medicine. By providing an overview of the controversy surrounding her autobiographical account of transmedical experience, as well as the biopolitical relation between trans life and affective ends such as “happiness,” I argue that Chu’s essay asserts—in a somewhat flawed manner—a necessary rejoinder to the contemporary push toward trans normalcy.
Author(s): Rachel PresleyAbstract: This exploratory essay seeks to orient transgender rhetorics towards a non-white, Indigenous vocabulary. In disrupting and dislocating our rhetorical landscape from its traditionally settler context, I offer Native Two-Spirit critique as a particular productive departure from the conventional conceptualization of Euromerican GLBTQ taxonomies. I draw upon Native critical theorists, such as Qwo-Li Driskell, Brian Joseph Gilley, Scott Lauria Morgensen, and Andrea Smith to echo the call that any decolonial movement within trans, queer, and feminist studies must work to examine the ways in which heteropatriarchy intersects with settler colonialism.
Author(s): Marquis BeyAbstract: This essay thinks through the nonbinary pronoun "they" and its proximity to black vernacular usages of the word as a descriptor of a certain kind of openness to subjectivity. This tendency is brought into conversation with gender nonbinary thinking around they pronouns. In other words, there is something to the pervasive usage of "they" (e.g. "How ya mama and them?" "Where they do that at?") that speaks to the presence of (gender) nonbinarism as intimate with a notion of blackness.
“It’s a … [inaudible blood-curdling screams, chaos]!”: Gender Reveal Party Fails as Ideological Rupture
Author(s): Benny LeMasterAbstract: In this essay, I theorize gender reveal parties as performative iterations of racist cisheterosexist ideology. In turn, gender reveal party fails are understood as ideological ruptures that refuse the saliency of racist cisheterosexism. I accomplish this both on the page and on the mediated stage. In this essay (the page), I explore the theoretical ground informing my performance (the mediated stage) of trans monstrosity including understanding the implications of gender reveal party fails as being rife with political potential.
Author(s): Sophia Maier, V. Jo Hsu, Christina V Cedillo, & M. Remi Yergeau
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