The first academic investigations of trans cinema and media arose from feminist and queer scholarship. However, this scholarship often conceived of trans as an imagined position unconnected to the experiences of actually existing people. This ranged from theorizations of (cis) spectators’ ambivalent identifications with gendered viewing positions to analyzing trans representations as embodiments of queer and postmodern theory. In the last two decades, transgender studies has coalesced as a discipline, with its own academic journal, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and conference, Trans*Studies. Transgender studies acknowledges trans people as speaking subjects rather than objects to be studied.1 In response to scholarship that investigated trans people as either specimens or imagined positions, Jacob Hale has laid out some of the field's ground rules (for trans and cis scholars alike): “Interrogate your own subject position”; “Don't totalize us”; and “Don't imagine that you can write about the trope of transsexuality …...
Laura Horak is an assistant professor of film studies at Carleton University, with cross appointments in the Pauline Jewett Institute of Women's and Gender Studies and the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture. She is author of Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908–1934 (Rutgers University Press, 2016), and she coedited Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space (Indiana University Press, 2014), winner of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies award for best edited collection, and Unwatchable (Rutgers University Press, forthcoming). She is currently researching the history of trans-made film in the United States and Canada.
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Laura Horak; Trans Studies. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2018; 4 (2): 201–206. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2018.4.2.201
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