Call for papers for volume 24 (2020)

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Representing Trans

Guest editors: Elahe Haschemi Yekani (Berlin), Anson Koch-Rein (Grinnell) and Jasper Verlinden (Berlin)

The last couple of years have been shaped by a paradoxical simultaneity of unprecedented trans visibility in the arts and media and of ongoing transphobic violence, disproportionately affecting economically disadvantaged and communities of colour. How can we approach the (international) success of shows such as Transparent, Hit & Miss, Orange is the New Black, Sense8, The OA or the independent film Tangerine (2015), foreign-language Oscar-winner Una Mujer Fantástica (A Fantastic Woman, 2017) or Arekti Premer Golpo (Just Another Love Story, 2010), and others? How do these visual representations negotiate traditional gendered binaries of the ‘male gaze’ (Villarejo 2016) and the dynamics of trans feminine hypervisibility and trans masculine invisibility? How do these artefacts navigate “the trap of the visual” that offers trans visibility as the “primary path through which trans people might have access to livable lives” (Gossett, Stanley and Burton 2017)? Have we indeed reached a “transgender tipping point” in public and political discourse as the June 2014 heading of Time Magazine, featuring actress Laverne Cox as the first open trans woman on the cover, suggests? What kind of tensions does the mainstream marketability and recognition (e.g. of celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner or Chaz Bono) create?

How do trans visibility and new regulative attempts such as the House Bill 2 (HB2) that gave rise to a new form of ‘bathroom panic’, but also media-savvy counter strategies by trans activists on social media, shape public discourse and how will politics be affected by more trans people running for political office? How does the predominance of US-centred trans representations reflect “the complex global flows of shared subcultural knowledges” (Aizura 2006) and how do they circulate globally and get received, resisted, or repurposed locally? Are there specific national investments in a visibility of legible scripts of trans lives based on identitarian political representation and how does this relate to visual representations of other non-normative forms of embodiment that might not easily fit such narratives?

This special issue seeks to address these questions in a variety of trans representations focusing, among others, on popular media as well as on less explored archives of trans (self-)­representations across the world, and their representation in/interaction with Anglophone texts and media.


The editors invite papers that address trans representations in TV, film, visual art, performance art, video, and social and other media exploring, among others, the following topics:

  • self-representation/trans-produced representations

  • debates about representation, identity, and the conditions of production, for instance, in the call to cast trans actors in trans roles

  • genderqueer and non-binary representations

  • discourses of hypervisibility/invisibility

  • differences in representing trans masculinities and femininities

  • recognition and violence

  • transnational comparisons/US-centrism and postcolonial critique

  • race, class, and intersectionality in trans representations

  • convergences in disability, intersex and transgender studies/activisms 

Detailed proposals (up to 1,000 words) for full essays (7,500 words), as well as all inquiries regarding this issue, should be sent to all editors by 31 October 2018: Elahe Haschemi Yekani:, Anson Koch-Rein: and Jasper Verlinden:
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