Seminars in the City Update

Each semester, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies
hosts a Seminar in the City, a series of monthly discussion
meetings where nonacademic readers read major works in
lesbian/gay/ bisexual/transgender and queer studies. This
fall, Seminars in the City focused on the theme of
transgender politics, reading texts by Kate Bornstein, Leslie
Feinberg, and Riki Anne Wilchins.

As a CLAGS board member with some knowledge of
transgender politics, I volunteered to lead this particular
discussion series. The first thing I learned—and fast— is
that no one in our reading group could be described as
a “non-academic” reader, only as readers who at particular
moments in their lives have no formal connection with
academe. The discussions challenged everyone in the
seminar, both trans and non-transgender-identified, to
think hard about the many ways that the lived experience
of gender different people can be incorporated into queer
progressive politics, or how, as Nori Kuroda suggests in his
account of the seminar, to add the “T” to LGB.

In the last session alone, on Wilchins’ Read My Lips, the
discussion, which was sometimes intense but always
respectful and went on well beyond the time limit,
ranged from the limits of a transgender politics of identity
to the erotics of different kinds of body parts and
prostheses. And the conversation didn’t always
end just because the session did, as seminar members
often grouped up to go out to dinner afterwards or to plan
to get together later. I feel confident that the larger
dialogue begun in this series will also continue.

Paisley Currah
CLAGS Board Member