How to Write a Transgender History of Sexuality
What relationship does transgender history maintain with the history of sexuality? And if history bears no unified trans subject, on what grounds does the trans historian write? This talk considers problems of method through the nagging gender trouble of trans history: the presumptive greater visibility of trans women compared to trans men. Examining transformations in how trans women sex workers in New York City were apprehended by the law over the span of the nineteenth century generates concrete grounds for a transgender history of sexuality.
Jules Gill-Peterson is Associate Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University. She earned her PhD from Rutgers University and has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Kinsey Institute. She was honored with the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award from the University of Pittsburgh in 2020.
Jules is the author of Histories of the Transgender Child (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), the first book to shatter the widespread myth that transgender children are a brand new generation in the twenty-first century. Uncovering a surprising archive dating from the 1920s through 1970s, Histories of the Transgender Child shows how the concept of gender relies on the medicalization of children’s presumed racial plasticity, challenging the very terms of how we talk about today’s medical model. The book was awarded a Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction and the Children’s Literature Association Book Award.