American Sociological Association

Promoting Transgender Justice through Sociology

August 1, 2017

by Eric Anthony Grollman and Laurel Westbrook, Sociologists for Trans Justice Co-Chairs

Recently, the United States has witnessed incredible progress toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, as well as the inevitable backlash following such a challenge to the status quo. It is important to note that the most vulnerable segment of the LGBTQ population—trans and non-binary people— has been particularly targeted. The intensification of transphobic (i.e., anti-transgender) discrimination and violence is reflected in record numbers of murders of trans people (especially Black trans women), lack of legal protections against discrimination, and proposed laws to bar trans people from using restrooms and other public facilities that correspond to their gender identity.

Last summer, in the midst of news of historic levels of violence against trans people, we noted that perspectives from psychologists, medical professionals, and lawyers were featured in the media, yet few, if any, sociologists were part of the national conversation about trans and non-binary issues. This omission is troubling considering sociologists have been instrumental in understanding gender as social, rather than biological, and numerous sociologists have published research that could contribute to public understandings of transphobic violence and discrimination.

To propel sociologists into the national conversation about trans issues, we created Sociologists for Trans Justice (S4TJ). Inspired by the work of Judy Lubin on Sociologists for Justice—an initiative that aims to use sociology to promote racial justice—S4TJ organizes for justice for trans and non-binary communities through and within sociology. We launched a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sociologistsfortransjustice) and spread the word of our new group through various ASA section listservs. Fortunately, S4TJ was able to secure a meeting time and location at the 2016 ASA meeting at the last minute, where we were overjoyed to see the room so packed that some attendees had to stand. Clearly, sociologists are committed to working to advance trans justice!

Read the article from July/August 2017 ASA Footnotes

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