Discussion Questions!

Still at the Back of the Bus – Discuss Questions:

1. According to Gan Sylvia Rivera “contextualized political praxis, informed by her life experiences, both resisted and provisionally while simultaneously resisting reductive definition”. What is your opinion on this statement after reading the article and from what we have learned throughout the course?

2. As I was reading the article by Gan I found the comparison of Rivera to Rosa Parks to be very interesting. Do you believe that Rivera acts during the Stonewall riots are in fact comparable to Rosa Parks and the boycott in Montgomery Alabama during the struggle against segregation?

3. After reading the article, I was very intrigued by Sylvia Rivera and being a transgender woman of Puerto Rican descent but did anyone else feel that Gan almost made it seem that Rivera was the beginning of the trans liberation movement? I may be wrong but I wanted to get other opinions of this as well. After reviewing the notes the Dewey lunch counter sit in took place prior to Rivera


Marlon Bailey Discussion Questions

1.) What is it about the Ballroom Culture Bailey finds to be particularly transformative and subversive as a tactic for HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness?

2.) What does the author believe to be problematic with typical and widely used methods of informing the public (specifically certain “communities” deemed as “high risk”) about the HIV/AIDS epidemic?

3.) What stigmas are created within our culture about HIV/AIDS regarding ethnicity, geography, and socioeconomics? Why are certain communities within the population deemed as “high risk” groups?  How do these stigmas serve to perpetuate “high risk” groups?

Discussion Questions Artful Concealment And Strategic Visibility

1. Racial profiling is wrong and is not acceptable when it comes to issues regarding security. How is this type of trans profiling or gender profiling any different from racial profiling?

2. Do you think surveillance of these bodies is justified due to the need for identification and security purposes? Is it acceptable to believe that because someone is different, they may be a suspicious person?

3. Why is concealing one’s gender identity to fit male or female, or going “stealth” so important in our society?

Animals without genitals by Mel Chen and Lessons from a Starfish by Eva Hayward – Discussion Questions

1. Chen works to deconstruct the concept of what it means to be human by speaking of humans and animals together as opposed to separately. For him to further build on this, he reconstructs his approach to form a foundation that animals share these same challenges. In what ways does Chen relate being human to being an animal? How does the concept of trans-animality redefine humanity?

2. Chen largely focuses on “body without organs” as part of his theory. However what particular influences does Deleuze have on Chen’s assumptions?

3. Hayward describes instead of removing a limb as “losing” part of oneself, cutting the limb allows for growth of a new part. Her use of the term “regeneration” allows her to explain it as “reshaping ones body and redefining oneself.” Though using words such as “cutting,” she adapts it to the process of transitioning in a positive way. However, why does the current language in trans-surgeries imply a negative connotation?

Discussion Questions for “Animals Without Genitals” by Mel Y. Chen and “Lessons From a Starfish” by Eva Hayward

1. The term “animacy” emphasizes the associations between humans and non-human animals. In what ways does the concept of “animacy” influence the way transgender individuals move across space?

2. Think about how we defined the terms “transgender” and “queer” at the beginning of the semester. How does Chen embrace collaborative possibilities of thinking about transgender alongside/across queerness?

3. Last class we talked about the effectiveness of incorporating science and the concept of “animacy” into transgender studies. Does the song “i’ll grow back like a starfish” teach us about transexual embodiment? If so, what does it teach us? Consider Hayward’s description of regeneration as shaping and remaking bodily boundaries.

Discussion Questions: Sex and Diversity, Sex Versus Gender, and Sexed Bodies

1. Joan Roughgarden raises the question, “whether variation within species is good in its own right or whether it is simply a collection of impurities every species is stuck with” (pg. 147). When I was reading her question I couldn’t help but to find myself rereading her question. The words, “stuck with” had me wondering what she meant by having your impurities “stuck with you”. How did you come about Roughgarden basic question?

2. Throughout the semester we have been distinguishing the difference between sex and gender. Joan Roughgarden makes it simple and defines sex as being a mixer of genes when reproducing. She then defines gender as society’s understanding of sex, “male” or “female”. When you were reading the section titled- “Gender Defined”, what did you think about all her examples of different species that don’t follow gender conformity?

3. Roughgarden says, “Changing sex has been suggested as a better way of obtaining a heterosexual pairing than moving somewhere else to find a partner of the opposite sex when traveling around is risky” (pg. 153). This reminded me of Kokumo and her video called, “There Will Come A Day” and how transgender violence will always continue even after genital reconstruction surgery. What are your thoughts about getting a sex change to fit into society’s categories?

Sex and Diversity, Sex Versus Gender, and Sexed Bodies

1. In this innovative celebration of diversity and affirmation of individuality in animals and humans, Joan Roughgarden challenges accepted wisdom about gender identity and sexual orientation. A distinguished evolutionary biologist, Roughgarden takes on the medical establishment, the Bible, social science—and even Darwin himself. When it comes to culture how does cultural transmission work in human populations?

2. A significant portion of this excerpt is dedicated to breaking down the gender and sexuality binary in the animal world. While I have some reservations regarding the scientific vigor of these chapters, I do feel the writer has made her point about the diversity of gender and sexuality. When it comes to gender and sexuality are “men” and “women” distinguished social categories?

3. Third Gender in biology. In addition to male and female sexes (defined as the production of small or large gametes), Joan Roughgarden argues that more than two genders exist in hundreds of animal species. How can the environment trigger the sex change in a social organization?

“‘My Father Didn’t Have a Dick’: Social Death and Jackie Kay’s Trumpet” – Matt Richardson

1. Black Manhood, as described by Matt Richardson, is a stigmatized identity that is brought into closer analysis when Joss Moody is “discovered” to be a designated female at birth. How does Joss enable the reproduction of black masculinity? How does playing Jazz music allow Joss to create his own identity?

2.  Richardson argues that social death, as experienced by African American people, did not end with the abolition of slavery. Having a queer identity, Joss Moody allows us to see another form of social death. Categories such as “family, man, woman, marriage, heterosexual, lesbian, and ordinary” (363) are being put into new perspectives. How can thinking about these categories help us understand the social death that Coleman experiences?

3. “I am especially interested in how Colman comes to see himself as socially dead as well — a black man who is ultimately in a feminized position in relationship to legitimate patriarchal white masculinity.” (Richardson 362). Do the feminine characters of the novel, like Millie, Edith, and Sophie, reinforce Coleman’s black masculinity? Do they compromise his black masculinity? How?

4. Richardson uses some of the imagery from the novel to introduce a Freudian idea of reproducing masculinity. Coleman’s memory of touching the trumpet (seen as a phallic symbol) creates nostalgia towards connecting to the father. What other figurative/literal symbols reinforce Joss Moody’s masculinity according to Richardson?


Discussion Questions for the novel Trumpet P152-278

1) The media in today’s world attempt to report the story that people want to hear. The truth is sometimes twisted and forged when they are published, even though its interpretation would not be understood in the way it’s supposed to be. What kind of expectations do you think people have when they listen to a story of a life of a transgender person?


2) In this novel, the author Jackie Kay mentions “African American identity” a lot of times. Not only focuses on transsexaulity, but she also puts emphasis on some characters seeking the answer to a question “who they are” in their roots. What is the importance of examining one’s intersectional identity when we try to understand someone else?


3) Joss’s tight bandage around his breasts symbolized that he had a female body, but he was living his life as a man. Appearance is one of the most decisive factors of defining one’s gender. Consider how this cultural value of appearance has been affecting our society. Also, shaving and going to a barbershop are referred as the signs of masculinity. Do you think taking these masculine/feminine actions into the real life would help transsexual people feel more natural or close to their real selves?

Discussion Questions: Trumpet pg 1-151

1. Considering this week’s theme is “Trans Narratives”, what does it mean to have the fictional life of Joss Moody– a trans man– being narrative through everyone other than himself?

2. Considering the readings from our week of “Politics of Violence” by Bettcher, Lamble, Snorton, and Haritaworn, how is Joss Moody experiencing violence after his death?  How is Joss Moody’s character “remembered”? Does Jackie Kay writing this narrative challenge or further perpetuate the way transgender bodies are imagined? Consider pronoun usage, intersecting identities, and “secrecy”/”pretender”/”deceiver”.

3. This text provides a platform to challenge given identities, where several characters have been mentioned to have different names than what is on their legal documents (adoptions, jazz names, ext), yet there are still conflicts with Joss Moody’s identity. Considering cultural values, what dictates when, how, and why identities can be changed?