Welcome to the SSA | Bienvenue a l'AÉS
This conversation will reflect on the moral panic, in the United Kingdom, the United States, and now Canada, around (1) gender nonconforming minors’ (and in some cases adults’) access to medical transition, and (2) minors’ exposure to expressions of gender or sexual non-normativity (e.g., in drag, in school curricula). This panic, stoked by the reporting of major outlets, has had a significant legislative impact in the UK and the US. While Canadian provinces have been slower to implement anti-trans legislation, there is evidence of growing anti-trans ideology and action. The conversation’s title is a nod to Paula Treichler’s sexuality studies classic, How to Have Theory in an Epidemic: Cultural Chronicles of AIDS (Duke University Press, 1990), which diagnosed an “epidemic of signification,” or a surplus of contradictory meanings, around HIV/AIDS. Our opening provocation is that gender variance has, over the past few years, been burdened with an excess of signification that poses epistemic and material problems that sexuality and childhood studies ought to take up. The conversation will consider how to have a theory of child sexuality—how to know anything about it, and how to negotiate the public circulation of one’s research on the topic—at a moment when the mere suggestion that “child” and “sexuality” are not antithetical categories invites accusations of predation.
The conversation will feature Jules Gill-Peterson, author of Histories of the Transgender Child (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) and an associate professor of History at Johns Hopkins University; and Celeste Orr, the author of Cripping Intersex (University of British Columbia Press, 2022) and a part-time professor of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa. The conversation will be hosted and moderated by Ann Marie Murnaghan, a coeditor of Children, Nature, Cities (Routledge, 2015) and an assistant professor in the Children, Childhood, and Youth Program in York University’s Department of Humanities; and Jean-Thomas Tremblay, the author of Breathing Aesthetics (Duke University Press, 2022) and an assistant professor of environmental humanities in York University’s Department of Humanities.