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Jack Halberstam: A short history of the trans* body in visual culture

Jack Halberstam a short history of trans bodies

In the last decade, public discussions of transgender issues have increased exponentially. However, with this increased visibility has comes not just power, but regulation, both in favor of and against trans people. What was once regarded as an unusual or even unfortunate disorder has become an accepted articulation of gendered embodiment as well as a new site for political activism. What happened in the last few decades to prompt such an extensive rethinking of our understanding of gendered embodiment? 

How did a stigmatized identity become so central to US and European articulations of self? And how have people responded to the new definitions and understanding of sex and the gendered body? In Trans, Jack Halberstam explores these recent shifts in the meaning of the gendered body and representation, and explores the possibilities of a non-gendered, gender optional, or gender-hacked future.

Following the keynote, Jack was joined onstage by Teddy Cook and Liz Duck-Chong for a discussion on the ways that this history and representation of trans bodies intersects with contemporary approaches to securing health equity and inclusion for trans and gender diverse people. The panel will be facilitated by Associate Professor Christy Newman.

The terrifying realities of neo-liberal corporate dominance, Trump, populism and new form of fascism means that we don’t have time to fight amongst ourselves.

Jack Halberstam

We have done ourselves a disservice with - and I know this is controversial - the idea that sex and gender are different. The concept of biological sex is upheld by a structural violence that suggests the shape of my genitals has anything to do with whole I am as a person.

Teddy Cook

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This talk was proudly supported by the UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health and the Division of Equity Diversity & Inclusion.

Christy Newman

Christy Newman

Christy Newman (they/them) is a Professor of health, sexuality and gender at the UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health, and Associate Dean Engagement and Impact in UNSW Arts, Design and Architecture. Over the last two decades, Christy has had the privilege of documenting the lived experience of people whose ways of ‘doing’ gender, sexuality, relationships and families are considered diverse or unconventional, including queer and trans communities, and those intimately affected by HIV and viral hepatitis. Christy is endlessly inspired by the cultures of care and courage these communities bring to the intersecting tasks of looking after one self, and looking after one another, often in the face of ongoing social and political hostility.

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