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Who cares? Trans experiences within and beyond hegemonic spaces of care

Authors: Theodore Davenport*, University of Washington
Topics: Gender, Historical Geography
Keywords: transgender, care geographies, feminist geography
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Feminist geographers have emphasized how care is mutidirectional, place-based, and gendered. However, very little work currently exists at the intersection of trans geographies and care ethics. This exploratory paper draws from my in-progress master’s thesis to better understand the care geographies of trans and gender variant people in the United States. I ask: 1) Where and how have transgender people in the United States formed spaces of care from the mid-twentieth century to 2019? and 2) What are the relationships between hegemonic institutions of care (such as medical institutions, the legal system, and nuclear families) and other forms of care in relation to transgender subjectivity?

I evaluate 25 oral histories from the New York City Trans Oral History Project, one of the largest trans oral history community archives in the United States, to analyze the relationship between geographies of care and historical geographies of trans experiences in the United States from the mid-twentieth century to today. My coding focuses on how interviewees describe their experiences with traditional institutions of care and where they have found support in relation to trans identity and subjectivity. This paper will discuss preliminary findings, including activism as a fraught form of care, digital trans geographies, and the importance of physical queer and trans spaces. This paper thus builds on and contributes to feminist geographic scholarship by theoretically and empirically expanding the gendering of care beyond a cisgender, binary framework.

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