I. History of Sociologists for Trans Justice Initiative

Despite the supposed progress on LGBTQ equality in the US with the legalization of same-sex marriage, trans and non-binary people remain frequent targets of discrimination, oppressive laws and policies, hate-based violence, and sexual violence. As we have seen in recent months, ignorance about who trans people are and their experiences and status in society has been a major driving force in opposing rights for trans people and justifying violence against them. There is a great deal that sociologists can offer to appropriately understand gender, trans and non-binary identities and communities, and the persistence and consequences of transphobia and cissexism.

The time to move beyond the paywalls of academic journals and college classrooms to contribute to trans justice is now! As a first step forward, sociologists convened at the 2016 ASA annual meeting to discuss the new Sociologists for Trans Justice initiative. With an incredible turnout of enthusiastic and committed colleagues, sociologists committed to trans justice compiled a list of ideas to address the initiative’s three goals: 1) advance public understanding of sociological understandings of trans issues; 2) advance the status of trans and non-binary scholars within the discipline; and, 3) advance trans studies within sociology. With this list in mind, initiative organizers Laurel Westbrook and Eric Anthony Grollman created five task committees for the 2016-2017 ASA calendar year. These are:

  1. Committee on advancing public understanding trans and non-binary issues.
  2. Committee on advancing trans studies within sociology.
  3. Committee on professional development for trans and non-binary sociologists and trans studies scholars in sociology.
  4. Committee on advancing trans and non-binary sociologists.
  5. Committee on eliminating transphobia and cissexism in sociology.

II. Sociologists for Trans Justice 2016 – 2017 Committee Actions & Issues

The specific actions and issues that were proposed at the 2016 ASA forum that are associated with each committee are outlined below.

1)Advancing Public Understanding of Trans Issues

  • (1) Create list of trans studies experts in sociology for media and encourage trans scholars and trans studies scholars to add selves to ASA media expert database.
  • (2) Develop system to have trans studies regularly comment on current events.
  • (3) Push for ASA-media attention to murders of trans women of color and bathroom debates.
  • (4) Push for ASA amicus brief on trans bathroom lawsuits.
  • (5) Push ASA to connect media with trans studies scholars.

 2) Advancing Trans Studies in Sociology

  • (1) Create list of trans studies experts in sociology for journal editors.
  • (2) Develop trans studies curricula resource.
  • (3) Develop a #TransJusticeSyllabus.
  • (4) Develop teaching opportunities for trans studies.
  • (5) Create a trans studies regular ASA session.
  • (6) Push other sections to make regular space for trans studies.

3) Professional Development for Trans Scholars and Trans Studies Scholars (i.e., mentoring, networking, self-promotion)

  • (1) Aid trans sociologists and trans studies scholars in promoting their work (e.g., use of networks, social media).
  • (2) Share resources with trans scholars to effectively work with the media and advance their work.
  • (3) Create mentoring program for trans studies and trans scholars OR partner with other relevant sections.
  • (4) Push for recognition of gender identity and expression in other sections’ mentoring programs.
  • (5) Develop writing and grant resources for trans scholars.
  • (6) Offer professional development workshops for trans scholars at ASA.

4)  Advancing Trans Scholars in Sociology

  • (1) Work with ASA to improve gender categories used for membership demographics.
  • (2) Encourage trans scholars to indicate gender on ASA membership profile.
  • (3) Encourage involvement in LGBTQ Caucus, Status Committee, especially senior scholars and people of color.
  • (4) Document and learn from history of trans activism in the discipline.

5)  Addressing Transphobia and Cissexism in Sociology

  • (1) Survey of trans and non-binary people in the discipline to capture experiences in sociology.
  • (2) Investigate how often trans work is rejected from sociology journals.
  • (3) See if ASA gender categories reflect full gender diversity and note which sections trans scholars join.
  • (4) Develop guide for best practices for classrooms, departments, universities.
  • (5) Create a safe space for trans scholars at ASA meetings and other conferences.
  • (6) Push for use of pronouns in sociology spaces (perhaps on ASA name tags).
  • (7) Partner with other ASA entities to advance trans studies and trans scholars.

III. How to Get Involved

Members of the American Sociology Association who are interested in joining the Sociologists for Trans Justice initiative, serving on next year’s committees, or taking part in future ASA sessions and panels are encouraged to contact Laurel Westbrook (westbrol@gvsu.edu) and Eric Grollman (egrollma@richmond.edu).

If you teach a college course on a trans justice-related subject (e.g., transgender studies, trans embodiments, etc.) and would like to contribute to the #TransJusticeSyllabus, please submit recommended readings, films, other supplemental resource ideas, or even your own syllabi, to Ghassan Moussawi (moussawi@illinois.edu) and Anne Marie Champagne (anne.champagne@yale.edu). We cannot guarantee that all suggestions we receive will be included in the next iteration of the syllabus, but we will give them our careful consideration.