Welcome to TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, which we intend to be the journal of record for the rapidly consolidating interdisciplinary field of transgender studies. Although the field is only now gaining a foothold in the academy, the term transgender has a long history that reflects multiple, sometimes overlapping, sometimes even contested meanings. For some, it marks various forms of gender crossing; for others, it signals ways of occupying genders that confound the gender binary. For some, it confers the recognition necessary for identity-based rights claims; for others, it is a tool to critically explore the distribution of inequality. The term transgender, then, carries its own antinomies: Does it help make or undermine gender identities and expressions? Is it a way of being gendered or a way of doing gender? Is it an identification or a method? A promise or a threat? Although we retain transgender in the full, formal title of this journal, we invite you to imagine the T in TSQ as standing in for whatever version of trans- best suits you — and we imagine many of our readers, like us, will move back and forth among several of them. We call your attention as well to our use of the asterisk (symbol of the open-ended search) in the journal's logo, our hopefully not-too-obscure gesture toward the inherently unfinishable combinatorial work of the trans- prefix. Whatever your critical, political, or personal investment in particular trans- terminologies, we hope that you will find — or make — an intellectual home for yourself here.1
It is worth pausing to reflect on the historical moment in which TSQ has appeared. For starters, as we write this introduction in September 2013, Chelsea Manning, the Wikileaks whistle-blower and “cover girl” of this, our inaugural issue, has just announced her gender transition within the US military prison system. There could be no better illustration of the timeliness or significance of paying careful attention to transgender issues. For some, Manning's decision to announce her transition provoked dismissive accusations of mental illness and narcissistic attention seeking, charges that exemplify a sorry history of pathologizing and stigmatizing transgender phenomena. For others, her transition has drawn focus to the porous and shifting boundaries between some articulations of gay and transgender identity and highlights the evolving, and achieved, nature of identity for us all. And for still others her transition shines a light on transphobic and homophobic oppression within the military, conditions that no doubt bolstered her resolve to disseminate classified documents in order to expose wrongdoing in the inner workings of the US security apparatus. In some quarters, Manning evokes shopworn stereotypes of the transgender figure as subversive, terroristic, dangerous, or pathetic; in others, she redefines courage and patriotism; elsewhere, she exemplifies the principled resistance to state-based repression to which we should all aspire. For some, Manning's transgender status is a random if not bizarre detail in her story, while for others it is the causal explanation on which the entire plot hinges. Whatever one's opinion of Manning's actions, her case raises complex questions about the relationship of transgender identity to issues of state, to moral and political agency, to visions of social justice, and to strategies of social transformation. Her case already exemplifies the inexcusable dearth of transgender-specific medical care in prisons — an unconstitutional “cruel and unusual punishment” routinely suffered by trans people within the carceral system — and adds fuel to trans activist demands within the prison abolition movement. At the very least, in one of the biggest news stories of the decade, she has compelled mass media outlets and the general public to ponder the proper use of pronouns and to grapple with issues of gender self-determination in the absence of medical and legal supports for gender transition. It is virtually impossible, in the wake of the Manning case, to ignore transgender issues or not to have opinions about them.
Moreover, Chelsea Manning represents but one of many contemporary moments of cultural attention to transgender phenomena. As she begins her undoubtedly long ordeal in prison, the most talked-about television program in the United States is the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black, a prison show featuring as a secondary character an African American transgender lesbian, played by African American transgender actress Laverne Cox. The Wall Street Journal's website coverage of Trans*H4CK, a “hackathon” (profiled in the New Media section of this issue) in which “hackers use code to break gender barriers” (fakerapper), exemplifies the increasingly prevalent opportunities for transgender identities and practices to positively represent the entrepreneurial values of flexibility and fluidity within the digital information economy. Matrix trilogy codirector Lana Wachowski finally goes public with her long-rumored transition from male to female. The Palm Center, a think tank at University of California, Santa Barbara, announces that it has received a $1.35 million grant to study transgender issues in the military. The Arcus Foundation convenes a national gathering of US transgender rights and advocacy organizations to explore possibilities for increased funding, while the Open Society Institute convenes a similar gathering at the international level. The University of Arizona (which hosts the editorial office of TSQ) announces an unprecedented transgender studies faculty cluster hire, with the intention of building a graduate degree program. At the same time, scarcely a day goes by — if one subscribes to the right listservs or visits the right news sites — without encountering a report of deadly violence against a trans person somewhere in the world, which undermines any credible progress narrative on transgender rights and calls for an explanation of how it is that whatever “progress” can be claimed remains so unequally distributed. What might be characterized as the “transgender turn” in recent affairs provides a context for the advent of TSQ while simultaneously demanding the in-depth analysis of this turn's conditions of possibility that we hope to provide in these pages in the years to come.
History and Scope of the Field
Arguably, transgender studies was first articulated as a distinct interdisciplinary field in Sandy Stone's foundational “Posttranssexual Manifesto,” which she began writing in the late 1980s and first published in 1991. It is in homage to this work of roughly a quarter-century ago that we have called the first issue of TSQ “Postposttranssexual: Key Concepts for a Twenty-First-Century Transgender Studies.” Stone's task at the time was to explode the concept of the “transsexual,” then often perceived (particularly by the people who lived a transsexual life) as a restrictive category that required gender-changing people to be silent about their personal histories as the price of their access to the medical and legal procedures necessary for their own well-being. Her goal was to break that silence and transform what she called the “textual violence inscribed in the transsexual body” into a critical “reconstructive force” (295). Stone argued that juxtaposing medically constituted transsexual embodiments against the backdrop of culturally intelligible gendered bodies generated “new and unpredictable dissonances” in which “we may find the potential to map the refigured body onto conventional gender discourse and thereby disrupt it.” She wanted “to take advantage of the dissonances created by such a juxtaposition to fragment and reconstitute the elements of gender in new and unexpected geometries.” Stone's intent was to point past what “transsexual” then meant and to call our attention to new genres of problems “whose potential for productive disruption of structured sexualities and spectra of desire has yet to be explored” (296). These genres constitute the domain of transgender studies.
Our task now is to look back, briefly, over the work already conducted in the field of transgender studies before turning our sights toward what the next, postposttranssexual, iteration of that field now seems to hold in store. We are honored to include among the nearly ninety authors who have supplied keywords and key concepts for this inaugural issue of TSQ a contribution from Stone herself, in which she proposes an ongoing guerrilla intervention into field formation in order to guard against sterile professionalism at this moment of accelerating institutionalization.
Since at least the nineteenth century, medical, scientific, and legal institutions in Europe and North America have construed individuals who manifest transgender behaviors or characteristics as particular kinds or types of beings whose bodies are thereby rendered susceptible to various sorts of social intervention (consensually or not). In this sense, there has been a “science” of transgender phenomena for more than 150 years, and a voluminous professional and technical literature on transgender topics has existed for many decades. The long-term biopolitical project of cultivating “gender congruence” while eliminating incongruity has achieved a high degree of institutionalization over the past century and a half, including the development of professional organizations, medical standards of care for transgender individuals, a significant body of case law and public policy, peer-reviewed social-scientific publications, and academically affiliated research centers and clinics. Most notable in this regard is the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), formerly known as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, which publishes the clinically oriented International Journal of Transgenderism, this journal's nearest though somewhat distant kin.2
The interdisciplinary field of transgender studies that began to emerge more than two decades ago differs from these previous approaches. Unlike the medico-juridical and psychotherapeutic frameworks, it does not merely investigate transgender phenomena as its proper object; it also treats as its archive and object of study the very practices of power/knowledge over gender-variant bodies that construct transgender people as deviant. Transgender studies, in other words, is to the medico-juridical and psychotherapeutic management of transgender phenomena what performance studies is to performance, or science studies is to science. Transgender studies does not, therefore, merely extend previously existing research agendas that facilitate the framing of transgender phenomena as appropriate targets of medical, legal, and psychotherapeutic intervention; rather, it draws upon the powerful contestations of normative knowledge that emerged over the course of the twentieth century from critical theory, poststructuralist and postmodernist epistemologies, postcolonial studies, cultural studies of science, and identity-based critiques of dominant cultural practices emanating from feminism, communities of color, diasporic and displaced communities, disability studies, AIDS activism, and queer subcultures and from the lives of people interpellated as being transgender.
Transgender studies began to take shape as an interdisciplinary field concurrently with the emergence of the term transgender itself in the early 1990s, as a broadly inclusive rubric for describing expressions of gender that vary from expected norms. The term came to name a range of phenomena related to deep, pervasive, and historically significant shifts in attitudes toward, and understandings of, what gender itself means and does. The work of the field is to comprehend the nature of these shifts and the new forms of sociality that have emerged from them; it seeks as well to reevaluate prior understandings of gender, sex, sexuality, embodiment, and identity, in light of recent transgender phenomena, from critical perspectives informed by and in dialogue with transgender practices and knowledge formations. As historically new possibilities for gender self-perception and expression emerge, as states reevaluate and sometimes alter their practices of administering gender, as biomedical technologies blur customary boundaries between men and women and transform our mode of reproduction, as bodies and environments collapse into one another across newly technologized refigurations of subjects and objects, transgender studies appears an increasingly vital way of making sense of the world we live in and of the directions in which contemporary changes are trending.
In its narrowest sense, transgender studies revolves around the category “transgender” itself — its history, dissemination, application, uptake, logics, politics, and ongoing definitional and categorical transformations. Indeed, the circulation of the term itself functions as a marker of the deep sociopolitical and cultural shifts with which the field is concerned. Some of the earliest recorded uses of variants of the word transgender appear in the United States in the 1960s among self-organized communities of predominantly white, middle-class, male-bodied individuals who persistently expressed feminine comportment, identities, and dress (but please see the keyword entry “transgender” in this issue for fuller documentation of this term's emergence). Such people began describing themselves as “transgenderal,” as “transgenderists,” or as practicing “transgenderism.” Their aim in doing so was to resist medical, psychiatric, or sexological labeling either as “transvestites,” which connoted episodic cross-dressing primarily for reasons of erotic gratification, or as “transsexuals,” which connoted medicalized bodily transformations of sex-signifying physical attributes through which a permanent legal change of social gender could be accomplished. “Transgender,” on the other hand, was meant to convey a nonpathological sense that one could live in a social gender not typically associated with one's biological sex or that a single individual should be able to combine elements of different gender styles and presentations. Thus, from the beginning, the category “transgender” represented a resistance to medicalization, to pathologization, and to the many mechanisms whereby the administrative state and its associated medico-legal-psychiatric institutions sought to contain and delimit the socially disruptive potentials of sex/gender atypicality, incongruence, and nonnormativity.
The new sense of transgender as a catchall term for gender variation entrenched itself by the mid-1990s and had great intellectual reach; it gathered together, under a specific term, a broad class of phenomena related to historical shifts in how sex, sexuality, gender, identity, and embodiment are thought to be conjoined and how — and to what ends — they may be reconfigured. On the other hand, the term's very reach allowed it to collapse many forms of difference into a single category, particularly as that term has been used in public health, HIV prevention, international philanthropy, NGOs, and human rights discourse; it often functions reductively to mask and contain differences that need to be distinctly articulated. One critical aspect of transgender studies is to consider the work that the term transgender does: tracing the genealogy of “transgender” as a category; documenting and debating the consequences of its rapid deployment in a wide range of contexts; and interrogating the ways in which it can function (sometimes simultaneously) as a pathway of resistance or liberation, as a mechanism for surveillance and control, or as a neutrally descriptive technical term in an analytics of emergent cultural phenomena.
Transgender studies promises to make a significant intellectual and political intervention into contemporary knowledge production in much the same manner that queer theory did twenty years ago. The work of the field is not confined to identitarian concerns any more than queer theoretical maneuvers were confined to the study of gay and lesbian identities. And like queer theory, transgender studies can function in minoritizing as well as universalizing modes. The central tensions in the field are thus structured by a tripartite focus on perspectival knowledge (of anything) gained from living a transgender sort of life; expert knowledge (by anyone) of transgender lives and related matters; and knowledge pertaining to the metacontextual conditions (potentially everything) that inform our contemporary encounter with transgender phenomena. Studying transgender issues is both worthwhile and substantive in its own right and also of significant interest for what it can teach about broader conditions of life.
A particularly rich stream of dialogue within transgender studies pertains to the relationship between transgender and queer and to the variously intersecting, parallel, and antithetical manners in which these two terms — which acquired their current critical connotations at roughly the same historical moment — are involved with identity politics and subcultural community formations. Another, similarly rich stream of dialogue pertains to the relationship of transgender to feminist politics and women's communities, to the extent to which transgender issues problematize the political efficacy of the category “woman,” or to the question of which transgender-identified people or practices can be considered a proper subject of feminist activism. Transgender studies likewise engages with studies of masculinity and men, both disseminating and analyzing a politically significant array of alternative masculinities.
There are certainly individuals who call themselves “transgenders” (noun), or who think of themselves as “transgendered” (adjective), or who see their particular categories or modes of self-expression or self-identification as falling somewhere under a collective transgender umbrella. Transgender exists, and we can study it, as we can study any social phenomena, from disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary perspectives. The field thus concerns itself with the full life content of such people — the accounts they offer of themselves and their world; their visions of the past and of futurity; their material histories and concrete social organization; the art they make and the literature they write; their activist campaigns and political struggles; their health and illnesses; their spirituality and religious beliefs; their forms of community; their experience of the life cycle, of interpersonal relationships, of kinship, and of institutions; their erotic lives, inner lives, domestic lives, and working lives; the way they represent themselves and are represented by others.
Transgender studies also examines the relationship of an attributed transgender status to other categories of personal and collective identity. Particularly in the United States, transgender is often considered part of an imagined LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer) community, and transgender studies consequently attends to the cultural politics of this identitarian grouping — especially given the complex discursive slippages among notions of homosexuality (same-sex attraction), intersexuality (biologically mixed sex status), and transsexuality (transposition of sexed body and gendered identity). Parsing the sometimes fine-grained distinctions between these categories can have important consequences within such contemporary policy debates as marriage equality, military service, employment nondiscrimination, public accommodations, and healthcare access.
Transgender has been correlated, too, often through acts of epistemological violence, with past and present terms drawn from nonanglophone cultural traditions around the world (mahu, sworn virgin, female husband, bakla, eunuch, hijra, travesti, berdache, and so on). The perils and potentials of the “transgender” rubric are most evident in such transnational contexts, particularly those that traverse global North/South and East/West divides. Naming differences from dominant configurations of modern Eurocentric categories of sex, gender, sexuality, embodiment, and identity in different cultures or contexts, assigning meaning or moral weight to such difference, and exploiting that difference according to the developmental logic of commercial and territorial expansion, of colonialism and capitalism, has been a central feature of Western societies for half a millennium. Attention to “transgender phenomena” — to anything that calls attention to the contingency and variability of sex/gender statuses through difference from expected forms — can thus be considered an intrinsic aspect of modern occidental knowledge production, deeply related to pervasive and persistent forms of political and economic domination, rather than a recent innovation.
Understanding the dissemination of transgender as a term that originated among white people within Eurocentric modernity necessarily involves an engagement with the political conditions within and through which that term circulates. Because transgender can be imagined to include all possible variations from an often unstated norm, it risks becoming yet another project of colonization — a kind of Cartesian grid imposed on the globe — for making sense of human diversity by measuring it within a Eurocentric frame of reference, against a Eurocentric standard. Even in the highly self-reflexive and well-intentioned act of trying to establish a critical space for the interrogation of transgender phenomena worldwide with this journal, we have made errors of judgment and execution that have inadvertently deepened real and trenchant inequities and injustices in the geopolitical, linguistic, and racial distribution of privilege and power, which we truly regret. And yet we nevertheless aver that transgender can function as a rubric for bringing together, in mutually supportive and politically productive ways, gender-marginalized people in many parts of the world, who experience oppression because of their variance from socially privileged expressions of manhood or womanhood. Transgender can operate both as a practice of decolonization that opens new prospects for vitally necessary and radically democratic social change and as a vector for the perpetuation of colonialist practices. We feel that decolonizing the transgender imaginary is of such crucial importance to the future elaboration of the field that the second issue of TSQ will focus entirely on this question.
Transgender studies promises new transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives while also posing methodological questions for various academic disciplines. Transgender can, for example, be a useful neologism for interrogating the past. While it would be anachronistic to label a previous era's departures from currently normative expressions of gender as “transgender” in an identitarian sense, there is another sense in which transgender as a critical term demarcates a conceptual space within which it becomes possible to (re)name, (dis)articulate, and (re)assemble the constituent elements of contemporary personhood in a manner that facilitates a deeply historical analysis of the utter contingency and fraught conditions of intelligibility of all embodied subjectivity. It can be used to pose new comparative questions about gender difference over geographic space as well over as historical time, between languages and cultures, or between one organization of kinship and another. It can challenge us to develop new models of what counts as mental health or physical well-being and to understand that social institutions such as the family can take many forms and encompass many kinds of members.
Perhaps most importantly, the field encompasses the possibility that transgender people (self-identified or designated as such by others) can be subjects of knowledge as well as objects of knowledge. That is, they can articulate critical knowledge from embodied positions that would otherwise be rendered pathological, marginal, invisible, or unintelligible within dominant and normative organizations of power/knowledge. As is similarly the case in such fields of intellectual activism as race and ethnicity studies, disability studies, feminist studies, and other areas of inquiry that seek to dismantle social hierarchies rooted in forms of bodily difference, the critique of knowledge that operates within transgender studies has an intricate and inseparable connection to broader movements for social justice and social transformation.
Finally, transgender does not simply critique present configurations of power/knowledge; it is engaged with all manner of unexpected becomings, oriented toward a future that, by definition, we can anticipate only imperfectly and never fully grasp. Transgender studies offers fertile ground for conversations about what the posthuman might practically entail (as well as what, historically, it has already been). The field engages with the radically transformative implications of contemporary and prospective biomedical technologies of the body as well as with critical questions about the boundaries between human and nonhuman animals or between nonliving and living materiality. It ponders many of the same philosophical questions about the embodied nature of consciousness that arise in the neurocognitive sciences, robotics, and studies of artificial intelligence. As such, transgender studies is emerging as a vital arena for exploring the evolving edge of our species-life at a historical moment of rapid technological and environmental change that calls into question some of our most fundamental notions of what human life means and may come (or cease) to be.
The Political Economy of Transgender Knowledge Production
We would like to be transparent about the economics behind the making of TSQ. It takes a great deal of labor and money to establish a new journal. By launching TSQ and committing to publishing four issues a year, Duke University Press will be taking on significant production costs for design, copyediting, proofing, typesetting/compositing, ad sales, shipping, marketing and advertising, manuscript tracking, permissions and rights clearances, journal sales, managing editorial and author correspondence, and many other kinds of labor and services. According to projections from our colleagues at the Press, in the best-case scenario the Press will have about $200,000 in outlays before TSQ breaks even around its fifth year. To offset that risk, the press asked us to raise a minimum of $100,000 to underwrite some of those costs. That is not a negligible sum, but when one realizes all that is involved in getting a new journal into circulation, it is not an unreasonable amount of money, either. Spread out over the five-year start-up period, it represents only about $20,000 a year — in other words, less than you would pay an editor in the United States working half-time with benefits.
At the time of writing, we have made a lot of progress toward our fundraising goals. Our most generous supporter has been the University of Arizona, which has already contributed about $35,000 from various sources as part of its unprecedented initiative to become the institutional home of transgender studies in the academy. We have also received contributions from the departments and programs of some of our editorial board members as well as from the board members themselves, all of whom we gratefully acknowledge in the list of founding supporters published in this issue (see “Supporters of TSQ”). We reached out to five major foundations with a history of giving to trans causes, but sadly, none of them funded us. We then turned to crowd funding and launched a Kickstarter campaign in May 2013. We are aware of some criticisms of crowd-sourced fundraising, particularly criticism of it as a technique of neoliberalism, helping shift costs from service providers to consumers in ways that increase profits and decrease benefits. We agree with this critique of neoliberal justifications for the individualization of responsibility in the name economic efficiency, but we find it more applicable to public and corporatized sectors of the economy than to a voluntary-participation activity such as our campaign. Nevertheless, we have heard that crowd-sourced fundraising for TSQ is a mechanism for taking money from poor, marginalized trans people of color and using it for the benefit of privileged white academics while ultimately turning it into profit for an elite university press. We are also aware of, however, and find persuasive, arguments in favor of grassroots fundraising as a mechanism for broader-based participation in social change activism — including knowledge work — that reduces corporate and nonprofit foundation leverage in transformational movements while simultaneously creating greater accountability to grassroots communities.
Getting the word out through social media, our own contacts, and those of the journal's editorial board, we asked potential Kickstarter supporters to make an investment “in the next stage in the development of transgender studies” by helping “create a first-rate platform for publishing peer-reviewed transgender-related scholarship” (TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 2013). This crowd-sourcing campaign generated tremendous excitement about the journal (for most supporters, it was the first time they had heard of us) as well as a little rancor. By the end of our thirty-day campaign, we had exceeded our goal of $20,000, raising $24,752 from 404 individuals. About $3,500 of that came from ten higher-end donors, some of them quite wealthy, who each gave in the $200–$1500 range. Nearly half the amount raised came from 86 people who gave between $100 and $200 each; based on name recognition, we assume that most of these individuals are academics, professionals, and members of the coeditors' families. Contributors at these levels, as well as the $75 level, received premiums in the form of steeply discounted transgender studies books and DVDs that were available to the editors. Most donors — 230 of them, to be exact — gave $10 or $25 each to have their names listed on our website or in the first issue of TSQ as founding supporters. We welcome their contributions, gratefully acknowledge them, and vow to do our best to keep TSQ relevant to this grassroots constituency. Thus far, including the Kickstarter campaign, we have secured about $60,000 in total funding for TSQ and have another $40,000 to raise in the next few years. We appreciate Duke's confidence in our ability to do so and in launching the journal before we have every dollar in the bank.
TSQ is not the first journal required to provide start-up funds for its launch, and in the age of declining library budgets and increasing institutional subscription prices — especially in the sciences — it will not be the last. In fact, our commitment to raise funds for the journal not only ensured that it would come into existence after years of planning, it also ensured that the individual issue price would be relatively affordable, with annual subscription rates of only $28 for students, $45 for individuals, and a range of $175 to $205 for institutions, depending on whether the subscription is electronic only, print only, or print plus electronic. We felt particularly strongly about print accessibility. Many presses are now moving away from the cumbersome and expensive process of printing journals, but not everyone who might want to read TSQ will have an institutional affiliation that gives them access to the e-journal format. Because each issue of the journal addresses a particular theme, every volume of TSQ will consist of four (or three, if there is a double issue) book-length works on transgender studies appearing each year, and we think there will be demand for single-issue purchases as well as regular subscriptions. A print version will allow us to sell single issues in independent bookstores as well as through online booksellers. In the final analysis, print journals simply cost more to produce than those limited to distribution on digital platforms, but we think in this instance the additional cost is justified.
The logic and language of economics saturate the foregoing paragraphs: investment, costs and prices, labor, production, marketing, demand, selling — indeed, we might well have used “brand” when referring to Duke's prestigious reputation. During our Kickstarter campaign, a few individuals contacted us to ask why we had decided not to join the open-access revolution and self-publish TSQ as a free online-only journal. Why, they wanted to know, must the purity of critical scholarship, or the works of art the journal will feature, be sullied by involvement in the transactions of the (putatively nonprofit) academic marketplace? Why raise money for this “privilege”? TSQ is not an athletic shoe or a new soft drink, after all, but a venue for the transmission of new trans knowledges — why should its contents not circulate freely to the people who need them most?
Unfortunately, the project of TSQ is not transgender knowledge per se; it is transgender knowledge production. No matter how idealistic we would like to be about the work we do as academics and editors, putting ideas into intellectual circulation cannot be separated from the quotidian activity that goes into making a journal. Indeed, the very distinction between an “immaterial” world of cultural and artistic practices and the material, economic world of capital, of buying and selling, as Pierre Bourdieu reminds us, is itself a product of the bourgeois subject and its “double-entry accounting,” which, through its “dissimulation or, more precisely, euphemization” of what is at stake, invents a “pure, perfect universe of the artist and the intellectual” that masks the economic practices that subtend it (1986: 242). There are no disinterested, noneconomic forms of exchange (arts, culture, education) untethered to the economic realm of labor, capital, and the production of commodities. Even if we had decided to self-publish TSQ, we would not have been able to avoid the costs of the labor and services required to produce it. Rather than pay trained workers at the Press to design, print, and distribute TSQ, we would have to do much of this specialized work ourselves (as well as the never-ending fundraising to pay for it). And that, for us, was an untenable proposition that would take us away from our own right livelihood as scholars.
There is yet another reason we chose not to take the DIY route to publication. There are innumerable trans-oriented blogs, zines, community forums, gatherings, or other outlets through which self-produced transgender knowledges already circulate. We celebrate this flourishing realm of cultural production while seeking to add to it a different kind of transgender knowledge, one that circulates with a different kind of legitimation, with different effects of power, within systems of power that we cannot readily escape simply because we critique them.
Knowledge production is an activity that, again following Bourdieu, results in the accumulation of a particular form of capital: cultural or symbolic capital. Until now, transgender studies has appeared as a disjointed series of ephemeral happenings and artifacts — conferences, edited collections, and special issues of disciplinary journals — with very little cultural capital. With the launch of TSQ, we hope to secure transgender studies as an established field of inquiry. We want the academic job search committees who now look askance at files from job applicants who work in trans studies to take those applicants more seriously. When independent scholars, graduate students, and untenured academics publish their cutting-edge original research in TSQ, we want that line on their curriculum vitae to count for more. We want to help scholars working in the academy to advance up the tenure and promotion ladder. Because we believe that theoretical and scholarly work has consequences outside the academy, however much that work needs to be done according to conditions within the academy, we want the work published in the journal to help change how and what people think about transgender issues. We want to do that not only by publishing new content or more data but by providing more space for new frameworks that help make a different kind of sense of transgender phenomena. We do this not metaphorically but literally, by creating the real estate, the page counts and word counts of a peer-reviewed journal, within which these frameworks can be elaborated to an unprecedented extent. We want to cultivate a space where critical conversations can be ongoing, not episodic, where it is not the case that every article needs to rehash foundational concepts for uninitiated readers. Journals are the terrain on which contests of ideas are waged, won, and lost, with consequences that can reverberate both within and outside the academy. We simply need more ground to stand on.
The kind of cultural capital we seek to build cannot simply be conjured out of thin air. It is produced through an intricate and often self-reinforcing meshwork of social relationships, money, and institutional affiliations. Financial capital and cultural capital cannot be neatly disentangled, which is why a degree from Harvard is “worth more” (and costs more) than a degree from most other institutions. To best wield the power of cultural capital for transgender studies, TSQ must follow the norms and standards of academic publishing, including adhering to the peer-review process and listing on its masthead an editorial board filled with accomplished and well-credentialed scholars. Given the newness and precariousness of our field, the vulnerabilities often attached to transgender lives, and the potential for transgender studies to stage an intervention in knowledge-production that has real-world consequences, we also felt the need for the imprimatur of a prestigious university press. We are glad that journals from traditional disciplines and established interdisciplinary fields have accumulated enough cultural capital to move to the open-access environment. At the present time, transgender studies does not have that luxury. We are determined to produce a journal that demands to be taken seriously, because we undertake our work with the utmost seriousness. We recognize that not everyone will agree with or accept our decisions. As TSQ moves forward, we sincerely hope that those who would have done things differently nevertheless will become involved in the platform we are trying to create and will work toward their own vision of what this journal, and this field, can become.
Structure and Content
TSQ's editorial team is unpaid except for the graduate student worker who serves as editorial assistant. There are two general coeditors, who are contracted with Duke University Press to serve (potentially renewable) five-year terms. TSQ has a large editorial board comprising roughly two dozen scholars across all ranks, many topical and geographical areas of specialization, and several language competencies (though most work in the US and Canadian anglophone academy). While slightly fewer than half of the founding board members are people of color, a slight majority of the board's membership falls somewhere on the transgender spectrum. Our initial selection of the editorial board was designed to address many different diversity concerns simultaneously, including the need to recruit as many tenured and tenure-track academic professionals as possible. As a result, the composition of the board — including the general editors — tends to reproduce some of the existing structural inequalities that make it easy for white, English-speaking, masculine-presenting people to be overrepresented within the academy and for the global North and West to be privileged over the global South and East. As the journal and the field continue to develop, as a more diverse pool of transgender studies scholars move into tenure-track professorships, and as TSQ editors rotate off their service on the board, we trust that the editorial structure will become even more diverse than it already is.
Each issue of TSQ will be devoted to a special topic or theme. Following the current key words and concepts issue and the forthcoming issue on decolonizing the transgender imaginary, the next few issues will be devoted to quantitative methods and population-based studies, to arts and cultural production, and to such other topics as animal studies, higher education, archives, sex classification, surgery, translation, and sinophone studies. We invite our readers to submit proposals for future issues. Each issue should have a two- or three-member editorial team. To ensure continuity of editorial vision while encouraging new perspectives and approaches, at least one representative from the editorial board will serve as an additional guest editor. The general coeditors will be responsible for the overall consistency, quality, and direction of the journal.
Although published by Duke University Press, the editorial office for TSQ currently runs out of the University of Arizona. In addition to accessing the journal through Duke's website, please also visit TSQ's editorial page at lgbt.arizona.edu/TSQ-main, where you will find current calls for papers and enhanced content for selected issues. In addition, we hope to use that space to host a lively forum about scholarship published in the journal as well as broader discussions of transgender studies and of trans issues more generally.
The inaugural issue of TSQ, featuring nearly ninety short keyword contributions as well as this extensive introduction, is different from our usual format. Typically, each issue of TSQ will include a brief foreword by the general editors, the guest editorial team's introduction to the issue, several feature articles, and a few of several recurring sections: book, arts and culture, and new media reviews; documents and images; opinion pieces; interviews; annotated bibliographies; translations; and fashion. Not every recurring section will appear in every issue. For this first issue, because the general editors are also serving as the issue editors, we are combining the forward and the introduction; because there are so many individual articles, we are offering only a general overview of the contents rather than a more detailed commentary.
Our goal in launching TSQ with a special double issue on keywords and concepts is to showcase the breadth and complexity of the field. With contributions from emerging academics, community-based writers, and senior scholars, we hope that a curated collection of very short pieces will provide evidence of both the field's already established depth and maturity and its irreverent youthful vitality. Even so, it is an impossible task to adequately document the full scope of the field — that will be work for TSQ to pursue in the years ahead, without hope of completion. We nevertheless trust that readers will find not only a compelling if somewhat partial snapshot of where the field seems to us to be right now but will also be inspired by its very incompleteness to imagine new ways of working within transgender studies, to see new ways for trans studies to connect to an evolving set of topics, and to find unexpected resonances with other concerns and fields of study.
When we published our initial call for contributions for “Postposttranssexual: Key Concepts for a Twenty-First-Century Transgender Studies,” we really had no idea what sorts of work we would receive. We could not, however, be more delighted with the outcome. Some of the submissions — like Vic Muñoz's entry “Tatume,” which discusses a native American squash — offer a deep and resilient resistance to the entire project of mapping the field terminologically. Muñoz refuses to pick a term and define it; rather, in discussing the qualities of a squash, he begins to reveal poetically a different relationship between acts of naming and imaginings of ownership, between lands and the peoples who occupy them and sustain themselves upon its products. In doing so, the very articulation of a transgender conceptual vocabulary becomes framed by questions of displacement, diaspora, conquest, and colonization. This is indeed the ground — the stolen ground — upon which all of our work proceeds and from which, like Muñoz, we must now cultivate a future that can deliver justice to the violence of this past. Other authors offered equally poetic, if sometimes more whimsical, creative riffs on such words and concepts as nature, hips, perfume, sickness, translation, or the jaw-breaking neologism transxenoestrogenesis.
If we had a template lurking in the backs of our minds for what the first issue of TSQ might look like, it was Raymond William's Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, which traced the shifting usage over time of a hundred or so words to show how our very ability to conceptualize social organization and the cultural field was produced by a history of ideological struggle. Some of the entries in TSQ definitely seem to draw inspiration from that approach, such as Julian Carter's deft exposition of the concept transition or David Valentine's of identity. Others, like David Getsy's take on capacity, reveal not so much a critical history embedded in certain keywords but rather words with as yet unrealized critical potentials for the field. Some contributions take existing terms from canonical thinkers (Foucault, Deleuze, and Guattari are current favorites, with Marx and Freud not far behind) and develop the significance for transgender studies of such key concepts as the state, biopolitics, normal, capital, line of flight, nomad science, and revolution. Others offer overviews of well-known methodologies (psychoanalysis, for example, or phenomenology) and demonstrate their applicability within transgender studies. Some suggest how trans issues play out in various fields — media studies, sports studies, sinophone studies, or childhood studies — and some, like Jasbir Puar's entry on disability and Heather Love's on queer, map the productive tensions between trans studies and other interdisciplines. Still other contributions function as encyclopedia entries on currently relevant topics: cultural competency, depathologization, surgery, pornography, human rights, and revisions to the International Classification of Diseases. And given that transgender studies involves the critical interrogation of emergent social phenomena, it is no wonder that many of the terms we have chosen to publish invoke identity categories that are only now coming into wider visibility or that have actually been coined with TSQ in mind: transableist, transbutch, somatomorph, and x-jendā, to name but a few. In some cases, we doubled up on the keywords, accepting submissions for both child and childhood, cisgender and cisgenderism, psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic. In doing so, we intended to signal that one map of the field could never be enough and that the work these concepts do depends in part on how and where they circulate. We wish we had time and space enough to give a shout-out to every entry and every author, but we simply do not, though we are proud to include them all.
We should close by mentioning the recurring features that round out our first issue. In our first book review section, Regina Kunzel assesses the raft of recent anthologies and special journal issues devoted to transgender studies, which offer further evidence of critical mass the field is now achieving. Doran George reviews the transgender performance scene in San Francisco for our arts and culture section. And TSQ interviews Kortney Ryan Ziegler about Trans*H4CK, his hackathon for transgender social justice, for our new media section. Thanks to them all, as well as to section editors A. Finn Enke, Eliza Steinbock and Tobias Raun, for their work on their respective sections.
These thanks, of course, are but the beginning of a long and seemingly ever-lengthening list. We also need to thank Erich Staib, journal acquisitions editor at Duke, and all his colleagues there, for believing in this project and for working with us to bring it to fruition: Rob Dilworth, Mike Brondoli, Sue Hall, Cason Lynley, Jocelyn Dawson, Kim Steinle, Charles Brower, Joel T. Luber, Cynthia Gurganus, Terri Fizer, Diane Grosse, and Bonnie Perkel. Thanks to Aren Aizura and Ben Singer for their work as managing editors in the very early stages of getting this journal off the ground, as well as to Abe Weil, who is providing editorial assistance now. Laura Alexander, Jenny Carrillo, and Heather Hiscox of Alexander-Carrillo Consulting in Tucson coordinated our successful Kickstarter campaign. The staff at the University of Arizona Institute for LGBT Studies helped in innumerable ways with administering our fundraising efforts and developing our website: John Polle, Tom Buchanan, Rachel Nielsen, Lisa Logan, Laura Caywood-Barker, and Cherie McCollum Parks. University of Arizona Provost Andrew Comrie deserves high praise for his visionary support of transgender studies, as do Dean J. P. Jones, of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Gender and Women's Studies Head of Department Monica J. Casper. We thank the hundreds of individual and institutional donors, listed elsewhere, who have contributed to the advent of this journal. We thank the members of our editorial board and our section editors, also listed elsewhere, for their hard volunteer work. We thank the authors included here as well as those who submitted work we were unable to publish for one reason or another. We thank the generation of thinkers and activists and community members who came before us and upon whose shoulders we stand and our colleagues and students, without whom transgender studies would not exist. Last but certainly not least, we thank our respective families for the love and support they have offered each of as we have jointly undertaken the daunting but rewarding task of launching TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly.
1. While many of us use “trans studies” in casual conversation, we decided not to call this simply a journal of trans studies, because it either seems too unspecific for general or formal usage or would entail addressing a wide range of trans- phenomena other than those involving gender.
2. Portions of the scope and history section of the introduction have been coauthored by Aren Aizura as well as Paisley Currah and Susan Stryker. These portions are drawn from the initial journal proposal, drafted when Aizura was managing editor, and have been reworked so many times that precise attribution is no longer possible. Altered, edited, or expanded versions of some parts of this text have appeared in “Transgender Studies 2.0” (Stryker and Aizura 2013) as well as in Stryker's afterword to Howard Chiang's Transgender China anthology (2013).