CFP: Transfeminisms: Translating, Transgressing, and Transforming Feminisms

Sarah Bess Rowen, CUNY, The Graduate Center
Amy Meyer, Tufts University

In January 2016, President Obama became the first president of the United
States to mention the term “transgender” in a State of the Union address.
Simultaneously, Planned Parenthood and abortion rights remain under attack
by Congress, and sexist, racist, and bigoted remarks are bandied about by
presidential candidates on a national stage. Issues of feminism and trans
rights are vital in our current sociopolitical climate.

Though performance and activism have brought us far, feminist and
trans-positive voices are still often treated as discrete. While feminists
fight to break down binary models of gender, many misinterpret trans
activism as a discordant movement advocating for “traditional” performances
of the gender binary. Yet, trans activism strives for much more. As trans
author and activist Julia Serano describes in the *Ms. Magazine* article
“Trans Feminism: There’s No Conundrum About It,” transfeminism reaches
across borders, signaling “a move away from viewing sexism as an overly
simplistic, unilateral form of oppression, where men are the oppressors and
women are the oppressed, end of story.” There are undeniable intersections
between feminism(s) and trans activism; feminism(s), too, cross borders of
all kinds, thereby lending themselves to further iterations of trans

Considering the 2016 conference theme of “Trans-”, exploring questions of
crossing and mobility, this working group seeks to push beyond boundaries
of what is considered “feminist” theatre and performance by engaging with
the presence of transgender identities on historical and contemporary
stages. It asks how combining trans activism with feminism(s) might
* trans-late*, *trans-gress*, or *trans-form* the definitions of feminist
theatre and performance. Participants will examine the ways in which
potentially conflicting ideologies of the trans and feminist movements work
across and with each other through performance and activism. This working
group also welcomes papers that model how feminisms have embraced other
causes and identities, in order to reveal possibilities for new types of
transfeminisms. Paper topics may focus on specific productions, scripts,
performance groups, protests, or performances of identity.

The task of this session will be to nuance the notion of feminist
performance by affixing the “trans-” prefix, and considering its
implications. Participants will debate: 1) Issues of representation in
staging gender expression and identity; 2) The possibilities of performance
pushing “across, through, beyond” feminisms; 3) The ways in which
performances have constructed, affirmed, or challenged the nature of

Papers might address the following questions:

– How have historical or contemporary theatre and performance addressed
gender transgression and transfiguration? How has this reflected and/or
refracted the ways in which society at large addresses trans topics?
– How does intersectionality inform transgender performance?
– How is contemporary theatre, performance, and/or activism staging
trans identities?
– How has trans activism incorporated theatricality and/or performance?
– How have trans performance artists explored, exposed, presented, or
performed the body on stage?
– How are trans artists and scholars situated and taught in academic

To better shape our conference session around the themes and issues raised
by members of the working group, organizers will divide papers into
subgroups based upon topic. Initial drafts of 10-15 pages will be
circulated to subgroups in late September to receive feedback by early
October. Participants will have the opportunity to make revisions before
papers are shared with the whole group. At the end of October, organizers
will facilitate a group chat online as a forum for participants to discuss
themes, pose questions, and narrow in on crucial discussion points for the
in-person session. At ASTR, we will spend the first part of the two-hour
session working on these discussion points within our subgroups, and in the
second part of the session we will come together for a full-group

For any specific questions, please contact the working group convenors at and Please note that all
submissions must be received formally through the ASTR website, at The form will allow you to
indicate second and third -choice working groups if you wish; if you do so,
note that there is a space for you to indicate how your work will fit into
those groups. The deadline for receipt of working group proposals is 1 June
2016 and we anticipate that participants will be notified of their
acceptance no later than 30 June. As this is the first year of this new
process, please contact the conference organizers at if
you have any questions about the process

About Steve Mentz 1264 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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