Transnational Circulation of "Transgender"
My dissertation, Unruly Categories: The Transnational Circulation of "Transgender," examines how different modes of understanding gender variance are coming to be articulated through the category “transgender.” Whereas prior studies have primarily focused on the emergence of gender/sexuality categories within a specific place, compared categorization across national context, or examined global convergence through the diffusion of Western culture to other parts of the world, I focus on how a single category, which carries its own ontology, contends with multiple modes of understanding gender in the transnational arena. Drawing from a multitude of archival, interview, and ethnographic data, I analyze the global institutionalization and contestation of “transgender” in three key arenas: large international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), the United Nations, and the international biomedical field.
Medical Expertise and Embodiment
Global Regulation of Gender Variance
I am assembling a dataset on the regulation of gender variance globally. Many scholars have created similar datasets on the regulation of same-sex practice, and a variety of analyses have shown the West as the center or originator of liberal laws on sexuality. I am interested in seeing whether the pattern holds for the regulation of gender variance and what this means for relationship (and ontological distinction) between gender and sexuality globally. With help from undergraduate research assistants, I have collected cross-national data on laws regulating cross-dressing, name change, gender marker, official ID, and body modification requirements, and am continuing to collect data on employment non-discrimination, hate-crimes, and anti-discrimination.