This section includes eighty-six short original essays commissioned for the inaugural issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. Written by emerging academics, community-based writers, and senior scholars, each essay in this special issue, “Postposttranssexual: Key Concepts for a Twenty-First-Century Transgender Studies,” revolves around a particular keyword or concept. Some contributions focus on a concept central to transgender studies; others describe a term of art from another discipline or interdisciplinary area and show how it might relate to transgender studies. While far from providing a complete picture of the field, these keywords begin to elucidate a conceptual vocabulary for transgender studies. Some of the submissions offer a deep and resilient resistance to the entire project of mapping the field terminologically; some reveal yet-unrealized critical potentials for the field; some take existing terms from canonical thinkers and develop the significance for transgender studies; some offer overviews of well-known methodologies and demonstrate their applicability within transgender studies; some suggest how transgender issues play out in various fields; and some map the productive tensions between trans studies and other interdisciplines.
The term brown boi is rooted in the founding of the nonprofit organization the Brown Boi Project. The term serves as a sociocultural identity and a call to social action. B. Cole, founder of the Brown Boi Project, discovered that mentorship, connection, and the power of language were ways to connect queer people of color from common lived experiences. While completing research in graduate school, B. Cole discovered that masculine-identified people of color were using various labels to describe their identity. For example, individuals were using terms such as two-spirit, AG (aggressive), dom (dominant), stud, macha, boi, trans*, and butch to describe their sexual, gender, and lived identities. Thus B. Cole coined masculine of center as an umbrella term to include all gender-nonconforming masculine people of color. The term is elaborated in the Project's mission statement: “Masculine of Center (MoC), in its evolving definition, recognizes the cultural breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer womyn and gender-nonconforming/trans people who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender spectrum” (Brown Boi 2010). The term masculine of center reaches beyond identification and commonality and calls for social action and change. Social action and change are needed to reteach healthy notions of brown bois' relationship to masculinity. Understanding holistic health and unpacking masculinity only assist brown bois in moving toward a gender justice framework for social change. Gender justice holds brown bois accountable to challenge the structural imbalances of masculinity and femininity (Brown Boi 2012). The organization strives to generate a gender-inclusive framework that includes a practice of nonoppressive masculinity rooted in self-love, honor, community, and collaboration with feminine-identified people, particularly women and girls (ibid.).
The Praxis of Self-Love and Social Change
In 2010, after creating the term masculine of center, B. Cole was inspired to tap into community resources, including discovering dynamic community partners, to create the concept of the brown boi. A brown boi seeks to impact the lives of straight and queer boys/bois of color through a culturally based gender-transformative leadership approach that cultivates strength, learning, and accountability (Brown Boi 2012). Much of the existing research regarding boys/bois of color in learning environments is rooted in racialized norms. These norms are created in how we understand race and its reproduction through lived and observed behavior. However, there is a lack of knowledge about how gendered behavior as it relates to masculinity impacts learning for boys/bois of color (Shepard et al. 2011). The organization desires to create a new conversation regarding gender in people of color communities. Masculinity holds structural power regardless of what body it inhabits. Boys/bois of color allowed to acknowledge their strengths can in turn accept their privileges through in-depth personal exploration, mentorship, and connection to community. Self-love allows for the dismantling of shaming around privilege and strength and in turn pushes individuals to be accountable for their privileges. Gender-transformative learning inspires masculine-of-center people to realize their full potential through self-actualization. Feminine-identified people are included through actions of love that reimagine healthy masculinities. This self-actualization acknowledges structural power and misogyny, disarms shame, and encourages emotive connection and community accountability (Brown Boi 2012). The Brown Boi Project is a praxis of transgender studies and leadership development.
Transgender studies must continue to expand the conversations of race, gender, and masculinity in order to transform leadership development strategies. Brown bois are at the crux of theory and practice. They are trained leaders who embark on the journey of love and self-work in order to dismantle systems of harm, including institutions that perpetuate misogyny. Brown bois are more than members of a nonprofit organization; they are leaders in the movement to dismantle traditional notions of masculinity, a movement that includes all women in gender and racial justice movements.