UA to Host Inaugural Transgender Studies Conference
As spaces are opening up for academics in transgender studies, the UA's Institute for LGBT Studies is hosting a conference intended to explore the burgeoning field and topics of importance to those who are transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming.

UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Aug. 31, 2016

More than 300 scholars, activists and artists from around the world are preparing to visit Tucson to share research and ideas in the burgeoning field of transgender studies.

"Trans*studies: An International Interdisciplinary Conference on Gender, Embodiment, and Sexuality" is a four-day event to be held Sept. 7-10 and hosted by the University of Arizona Institute for LGBT Studies, which focuses on transgender studies as a field of research involving scholars from many different disciplines. The inclusion of the asterisk indicates an all-inclusive nature, recognizing all transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming identities. 

"We are thrilled with the Transgender Studies Initiative and the opportunity it has given us at the institute to host this conference," said Adela C. Licona, interim director of the Institute for LGBT Studies and associate professor in the Department of English.

"The conference is a unique occasion for transgender studies scholars, artists and activists from around the world to be in conversation and to learn from one another about the pressing issues and vital contributions from this exciting and relatively new field of study, from members of trans* communities, and from those who stand in solidarity with them."

Allucquére Rosanne "Sandy" Stone, an associate professor and founding director of the Advanced Communication Technologies Laboratory at the University of Texas, Austin, will provide one of the two keynote addresses. Stone is also a senior artist at the Banff Centre for the Arts and a fellow of the Humanities Research Institute at University of California, Irvine. Stone has been a filmmaker, music engineer, neurologist, science-fiction author and cultural theorist.

Mauro Cabral also will give a keynote talk. Cabral is an Argentinian intersex and trans activist who serves as co-director of Global Action for Trans* Equality, which is a network coordinator, facilitator and advocate that works to unite trans* movements for common goals.

Eric Plemons, an assistant professor of anthropology and chair of the conference program committee, said the time was right for this conference.

"Transgender topics are being covered in the popular news media — everything from Caitlyn Jenner to the ongoing debate about transgender athletes competing in the Olympics," Plemons said. "After decades of working in the margins, there is a space now for academics who are focusing on transgender studies."

Some of the presentation topics include transgender history, approaches to transgender community health, transgender linguistics, and transgender and gender nonconforming characters in literature, art and media.

Trans*Studies 2016 also will feature the work of transgender artists, writers and film makers. Fluxx Studios, a trans-owned and -operated Tucson performance space, will host a poetry reading and conference-ending celebration.

In addition to presentations and performances, the conference schedule includes an ambitious agenda item: a meeting to discuss establishing an international transgender studies association.

Dani Stuchel, program coordinator for the Transgender Studies Initiative at the UA, says Trans*Studies 2016 is only part of the University's involvement in trans* studies as a field.

"Through the Transgender Studies Initiative, we've been able to launch the first transgender studies journal (Transgender Studies Quarterly) to accept work from multiple disciplines, hire faculty who specialize in trans* studies and provide research support funds," Stuchel said.

Much of the success of the Transgender Studies Initiative can be credited to Susan Stryker, associate professor in the UA Department of Gender and Women's Studies.

"In addition to being a prominent figure in transgender studies, Susan Stryker is also deeply involved in making transgender students, staff and faculty a priority at the University — from working with administrators to create gender-neutral restrooms and facilities to planning a transgender studies certificate program," Stuchel said.

Stryker led a steering committee of more than 20 students, staff and instructors at the UA who have been organizing the conference for over a year.

Plemons said the UA was the logical place to hold the inaugural conference.

"Susan Stryker has a lot of connections in the trans* community," Plemons said. "And with the phenomenal support the University of Arizona has shown with the Transgender Studies Initiative and with trying to think big and do bold new things, it makes sense to bring it here."


Extra info


Trans*studies: An International Interdisciplinary Conference on Gender, Embodiment and Sexuality


UA Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E University Blvd. ( North Ballroom)


Sept. 7-10

Support for the conference has come from many University of Arizona departments, institutes and centers, as well as other universities in the United States and abroad.

Beyond the conference, two events are open to the public:

  • Sept. 9: The Trans & Genderqueer Poetry Reading will be held 7-8 p.m. at the Fluxx Studio & Gallery, 690 E. 19th St., in Suite 130.
  • Sept. 10: The Closing Night Party will be held 8:30 p.m. until midnight, also at the Fluxx Studio & Gallery.


Resources for the media

Dani Stuchel

UA Transgender Studies Initiative