Historicising Trans and Articulating the Future

As I write this I am eating the free sweets I scored at the Historicising Trans Symposium in Liverpool on Saturday. It was a fab day organised by Dr Emma Vickers. The call for papers stated:

In 2006, Susan Stryker called for ‘cross cultural and historical investigations of hu-man gender diversity.’ Discussions about the rights of the trans* community may be in the ascendency but historians have yet to historicise trans* identities in the same way as same-sex desire. This symposium seeks to address that absence and suggest ways that the study of trans* lives might be advanced.

The papers ranged from discussing Victorian cross-dressers, to WW1 and WW2 drag shows, to translating 17th century texts, to the cultural context of Thai trans women’s choices to move to Europe.  We live-tweeted throughout the day using #HistTrans if you want a blow-by-blow account of the papers.

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Fab gift from Dr Emma Vickers

 ‘Love from Liverpool: Transgender Pride’ – card by artist Sophie Green

Excitingly Professor Stephen Whittle was the keynote speaker. Author of a number of the texts I’m using within my thesis, he spoke eloquently and humorously about his involvement in the trans rights movement from the 1970s to today. He mentioned that he might have another book coming out next year that focusses on the British side of the movement, something that tends to get left out in the generally Americanised field.

Additionally I got to see the lovely Cheryl Morgan again. We met at the Brighton conference a couple of months ago and it was fab to catch up with her. She presented a fascinating paper on ‘Issues of identifying gender variant people in ancient cultures’. We’re planning on seeing one another again at the LGBT History Conference in February if not before. Twitter nonsense will of course be happening in the interim.

This week before the conference I mostly concentrated on preparing the report and presentation for my transfer viva. The report can now be put away until after the presentation where I’ll need to edit in any of the suggestions made. I’ve got a couple of slides left to do for the presentation and a script to write so I don’t sound like a bumbling idiot.

The presentation sums up what I’ve done so far, gives an overview of the field, showcases my methodology and gives my plans for the next couple of years. I think it’s ok….maybe. We’ll have to see. Luckily I’m doing a run-through with some of the other PhD lot before the main event, so I’ll get their opinions. I’m feeling pretty nervous after the mess I made of the last bit of hoop-jumping. I understand that they need to check that we’re actually doing something for the PhD, but couldn’t they just ask for a draft of our first chapter or something? It’s frustrating having to take time out of my thesis work to do these bits and bobs, but I suppose it is the only reason that I’ve consciously thought about my methodology, so that’s something.

The plan for this week is to finish off the presentation and carry on writing my first chapter. Although, I did just buy loads of new books, so…that might happen too.

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