Jack Halberstam at Brown

On Monday, April 17th, Jack Halberstam gave a lecture, "Trans: Bodies & Power in the Age of Transgenderism" for Women's History Series at Brown University. Professor Halberstam works in the areas of popular, visual and queer culture with an emphasis on subcultures.

  1. Today we are livetweeting Jack @Jhalberstam's talk "Trans: Bodies and Power in the Age of Transgenderism." Follow at #halberstamatbrown
  2. .@Jhalberstam: In the 20s we find ppl called inverts whose gender was a contradiction,registering as same-sex attraction #halberstamatbrown
  3. .@Jhalberstam: I want to undo the identitarian notion of trans*, so that it becomes a more capacious term #halberstamatbrown
  4. .@Jhalberstam: We're thinking about Trans* in an era when queer political orientation is centered on assimilation #halberstamatbrown
  5. .@Jhalberstam: Legal recognition can give people security, but demands that ppl present to the state in legible forms #halberstamatbrown
  6. .@Jhalberstam: I want to think abt how we can contort and transform the categories the law presents us with #halberstamatbrown
  7. .@Jhalberstam: There has been a long history of trans people, specifically trans women, cast as violent killers in film #halberstamatbrown
  8. .@Jhalberstam: The narrative was that without normative gender, social order would unravel and bodies would be slashed #halberstamatbrown
  9. .@Jhalberstam: Three films compltely changed the way trans characters were portrayed, and are continuously referenced #halberstamatbrown
  10. .@Jhalberstam: Lipsyncing as a metaphor for how ideology speaks thru us – singing along to narratives we've been taught #halberstamatbrown
  11. .@Jhalberstam: There's so little trans presence in film thru the late 90s, followed by deeply normative trans film #halberstamatbrown
  12. .@Jhalberstam: To the extent that a trans person passes, how do you know that they're trans? #halberstamatbrown
  13. .@Jhalberstam: To the extent that a trans person does not pass, are you spectacularizing their failure to pass? #halberstamatbrown
  14. .@Jhalberstam: Poststructuralists like Baudrillard have used trans folk as metaphor for how we're all "disoriented" #halberstamatbrown
  15. .@Jhalberstam: Consider queer frameworks of abstraction, or @SaraNAhmed's phenomenology, or technotopia #halberstamatbrown
  16. .@Jhalberstam .@Jhalberstam: If everyone is "disoriented," why choose trans people as metaphor? Why not use say, Baudrillard himself? #halberstamatbrown
  17. .@Jhalberstam: Fragmented ways of seeing the body have been so influential in queer thinking #halberstamatbrown
  18. .@Jhalberstam: Caitlyn Jenner shows us the limit of id politics; it can't be any trans person but a Republican capitalist #halberstamatbrown
  19. .@Jhalberstam: Trans visibility does not result in change – you just end up with more money for the Kardashians #halberstamatbrown
  20. .@Jhalberstam: We don't want funding from patrons or benevolence – read @deanspade for alternative funding structures #halberstamatbrown
  21. .@Jhalberstam: Prior to the mid-1990s, almost no one would have identified as a transgender child #halberstamatbrown
  22. .@Jhalberstam: We have produced the character of "trans children" in crisis, in order to save them #halberstamatbrown
  23. .@Jhalberstam: Early medical intervention requires that children learn a necessary script for sex reassignment #halberstamatbrown
  24. .@Jhalberstam .@Jhalberstam: The script that someone must be in distress, must be direly suicidal, must have "always been this way" #halberstamatbrown
  25. .@Jhalberstam: These figures are "cooked" around suicide, and propose medical intervention as the only solution #halberstamatbrown
  26. .@Jhalberstam: I want to offer 3 artists who push back on this "trans-normalizing" development #halberstamatbrown
  27. .@Jhalberstam: What if we had transgenderism oriented not around identification, but around pointing? #halberstamatbrown
  28. .@Jhalberstam: Pointing in the direction of something, rather than pinning smth down – that's what the haptic is about #halberstamatbrown
  29. .@Jhalberstam: These works bring the viewer into a relationship of unknowing – so close that you doubt your own gender #halberstamatbrown
  30. .@Jhalberstam: Lots of bodies exceed the classification systems that have been designed to pin them to meaning #halberstamatbrown
  31. .@Jhalberstam: Trans* bodies take apart the systems of meanings that mainstream politics wants to shore up #halberstamatbrown
  32. .@Jhalberstam: On behalf of that everything, a haptic politics, the asterisk, I ask us to rethink the politics of trans #halberstamatbrown
  33. Q: In the 90s, transgender was an umbrella term that was explicitly distinct from transsexuality and medical dichotomies #halberstamatbrown
  34. .@Jhalberstam: I think we should always think of transgenderism, transsexuality entwined together #halberstamatbrown
  35. .@Jhalberstam .@Jhalberstam: For ex, people who have surgery but no hormones, hormones but no surgery – there are so many variations #halberstamatbrown
  36. Q: How do we address the gray area where perhaps young children do know that they want medical intervention? #halberstamatbrown
  37. .@Jhalberstam: It's a very gray area, and I certainly don't want to legislate – but I do want to ask question #halberstamatbrown
  38. .@Jhalberstam: I hesitate to say there should be a plan, but medicine certainly likes a plan, and protocol #halberstamatbrown
  39. .@Jhalberstam: Medicine therefore calls on parents and children to mark off certain statements, identifications, etc. #halberstamatbrown
  40. .@Jhalberstam: I don't want to say that I know, but there certainly shouldn't be a medical protocol applied to everyone #halberstamatbrown
  41. Q: How do you bridge bringing in theory and working with activist communities? How do those knowledges work together? #halberstamatbrown
  42. .@Jhalberstam: What happens to activism when one generation is completely cut off from the generation before it? #halberstamatbrown
  43. .@Jhalberstam: For trans kids who have access to healthcare, resources, support, there's also a split across class #halberstamatbrown
  44. .@Jhalberstam .@Jhalberstam: Trans normalization has to do with how people access these resources, which changes the meaning of trans #halberstamatbrown
  45. Q: How do you see the relationship between representational politics and distribution of resources? #halberstamatbrown
  46. .@Jhalberstam: At some point, the trans body becomes a site for maximization, inclusion, incorporation #halberstamatbrown
  47. .@Jhalberstam .@Jhalberstam: Which is why we need to always be pushing at and contorting these narratives #halberstamatbrown
  48. .@Jhalberstam: I think we should be trying to imagine new distributions of resources, opportunity, access, value #halberstamatbrown