Conventional approaches to trans inclusion in the women’s, gender, and sexuality studies classroom often involve what Diana Courvant has called the “special guest” approach of bringing in trans, intersex, and gender-nonconforming folk to represent and authenticate trans experiences, perspectives, and political engagements. This essay argues for the inadequacy of this pedagogical strategy, focusing on its complicity with a neoliberal politics of inclusion that fails to move students to deal with their own deep complicities in upholding understandings of sex and gender that are fundamentally transphobic, as well as its failure prompt pragmatic understanding and address of the maldistribution of life chances for trans, intersex, and gender-nonconforming subjects. I offer several alternative strategies aimed at producing more deeply transformative types of trans inclusion in WGSS classrooms. These strategies focus on mapping connections between cis and trans experiences of gendered transformation in order to produce an alternative understanding of gender as process, craft, and becoming.
By Hilary Malatino, 2015