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CFP for ICFA 2020: Trans Futurisms

In the first issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly, Susan Stryker and Paisley Currah write, “Transgender does not simply critique present configurations of power/knowledge; it is engaged with all manner of unexpected becomings, oriented toward a future that, by definition, we can anticipate only imperfectly and never fully grasp” (9). Trans is about the future – about transitions, becomings, evolution, and potentiality. Science fiction offers a privileged site for these trans futures – in fact, there is a long history of trans characters in SF, although that history is not yet centralized in SF studies. From Joanna Russ to Gerald Vizenor to Octavia Butler to N. K. Jemisin, trans people appear in SF as dystopian monsters, exercises in critical estrangement, casually-included minor characters, and very occasionally as the authors and protagonists of our own stories. Trans bodies themselves have historically been understood as science fictions: as artificial men and surgically-constructed women, unreal genders made up on Tumblr, or grotesque monsters who may not be men or women at all. Trans theorist Susan Stryker said it best in her 1994 essay, “My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix”: “I am a transsexual, and therefore I am a monster” (240).

This panel explores generative crossings between “trans” and “SF”: trans futures, trans speculative fictions, trans as science fiction, science fiction as trans. Potential areas of inquiry may include, but are not limited to:

• How has SF historically imagined and used trans characters?
• How can SF create more livable futures for trans life?
• What does it mean to write and read SF while trans women of color are being murdered at epidemic rates?
• How have Afrofuturist, latino futurist, indigenous futurist, and other artists of color imagined futures for trans people?
• How have trans writers, artists, and activists envisioned and built their own futures?
• What does it mean for one’s body to be read as science fictional – or to see your own body as speculative fiction?
• How does SF help extend conceptions of “trans” beyond the human?
• How do fan cultures create, rewrite, and extend trans futures?

I welcome creative contributions as well as academic presentations. Please contact Dagmar Van Engen at by October 20 with questions or proposals of <500w.