Like any new transdisciplinary area, at the moment of trans studies emergence there were no conventions limiting what one could look at, no particular sets of methodological processes one must follow, no “proper objects” (Butler 1994). Before Sandy Stone launched the field with the appearance in 1991 of “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto,” the study of all things trans had pretty much been limited to pathologizing medical and psychiatric discourses (1991). After its publication, the horizons seemed endless. Since then, the truly transdisciplinary side of trans studies–distinct from the medical and psychological literatures, which, if no longer explicitly pathologizing, are certainly disciplinarily bound–has made possible the comingling of things that are not supposed to go together: biological and text-based disciplines, or the study of humans and the study of other animals, to give just two examples.
By Paisley Currah, 2019