A paper drawn from Gender Underground that I gave at Tuning Speculation VI in Bloomington, Indiana, in October 2018.
I am currently at work on a book project entitled Gender Underground: A History of Trans DIY. This project aims to re-narrate the second half of the trans twentieth century not through institutional medicine and sanctioned archives, but the myriad do-it-yourself practices of trans people that forged rich, parallel social worlds. Beginning in the mid century, when doctors would not provide surgeries requested by trans people, and exploring trans diasporas connecting the US to the Caribbean and Mexico, Gender Underground uncovers a rich underground tradition that found inventive access to hormones, alternate routes to affirming transness, and spiritual or magical care for the self and others. The book also examines some of the first clinics and counseling organizations formed by and for trans people, many which maintained intimate connections to trans of color activist groups. DIY is not just the object of the book, but a theory and a method. Gender Underground argues that “DIY trans studies” affirms practices of survival, archiving, and creative world making from the least visible and enfranchised positions, those of low income and trans of color people.
I will be using this blog to share and explore some of the materials and ideas of the project as I spend time in trans community archives around the United States and Canada.