The University of Chicago News Office
Feb. 9, 2006 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
(773) 702-6421

Center for Gender Studies hosts conference on transgender issues Feb. 16-17

The Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago is holding a conference Thursday, Feb. 16 and Friday, Feb. 17 to investigate transgender issues and the implications of the emerging field of transgender studies on gender, feminist and sexuality studies.

“Trans/forming Knowledge” focuses on transgender studies, a relatively new field and one with few scholars and no established university or college department. But questions invoked by those in the field cannot be ignored, said George Chauncey, University of Chicago Professor in History and the interim Director of the Center for Gender Studies.

“The emergence of transgender studies in recent years has raised far-reaching questions about the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of gender, women’s, queer and sexuality studies,” Chauncey said. “This symposium invites the community to consider the significance and implications of these questions by engaging in a sustained, interdisciplinary conversation with four of the field’s leading scholars.”

Included in the conference are two of the field’s founders — sociologist Aaron Devor and historian Susan Stryker — as well as Yale University women’s historian Joanne Meyerowitz and University of Southern California feminist theorist Judith Halberstam.

The contemporary transgender movement started in the early 1990s, emerging at around the same time as queer studies but also intersecting with feminist theory, said Stryker, co-editor of (De)Subjugated Knowledges: The Recent Emergence of Transgender Studies.

“The focus of the conference is to look at the impact of transgender studies on sex studies, gender studies and feminist studies,” she explained. “What’s interesting is that all of those fields in some way look at the relationship between sex, gender and sexuality — our bodies, our social roles and our desires — and that each one of these fields has been productively unsettled by new work coming out in the field of gender studies that looks at how a growing number of people don’t identify themselves as men or women.”

The conference begins at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 in Biological Sciences Learning Center 109, 924 E. 57th St. A screening of Stryker’s PBS documentary Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria will be followed by a discussion with the director. The film uncovers a 1966 event in which transgender people physically fought back against police harassment at a restaurant in San Francisco — a full three years before the more widely known Stonewall riots.

The discussion continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 in Social Sciences 122, 1126 E. 59th St. In the morning, Chauncey, Devor and Stryker will discuss the intersectional origins and developments of transgender studies, while in the afternoon session Meyerowitz and Halberstam will explore the implications of transgender studies.

The conference is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the Center’s Lesbian and Gay Studies Project. For more information, call (773) 702-9936 or visit
Last modified at 11:40 AM CST on Thursday, February 09, 2006.

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