The guest editors of the Somatechnics Special Issue, ‘Trans Temporalities‘, draw on their inspirations for the issue theme, as well as highlighting experiences of gender nonnormative subjects and the significance of time, discourse and materiality in understanding the [complicated] lives of trans people.
How did this special issue materialise?
This special-issue on ‘Trans Temporalities’ grew out of a dynamic conference by the same name at the University of Toronto, Canada, in April, 2016.1
Organized by Ido Katri, Simon Fisher and our colleague Celeste Pang, the conference featured scholarship from graduate students, community artist-activists, lay scholars, and faculty addressing the unique relationships between time, narrative, discourse and bodies. Defining these concepts as interrelated enables us to better understand trans temporalities and the widely and forcefully held linear conceptions of ‘progress’ and ‘development’ that constrain them.
What do you mean by Trans Temporalities?
Trans studies has focused on the troubling mind/body dualism central to the dominant ‘wrong-body’ trope4 but less attention has been devoted to the temporality of this narrative.
Kadji Amin’s definition of ‘temporality’ in the inaugural issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly inspired our conference call for proposals, and thus, this special-issue. In it, he recommends a ‘critical focus on the temporal underpinnings of transgender [which]…may open the way toward a more transformative politics of justice’ (2014: 219). We were engaged by the way ‘trans’ and ‘time’ come together as trans temporality to offer critical interventions into existing scholarship and into politics of justice. Throughout this special-issue, our authors intersect these two analytical frameworks which enable us, also, to consider how we may practically intervene to make a more livable life for trans people, particularly those who are racialized, disabled, poor, incarcerated and/or otherwise marginalized.
How significant is this special issue?
In ‘Trans Temporalities’ we offer original insight into the time(s) of trans life experience. The articles featured here demonstrate how the linearity of this normative trope—the traumatic past, the intervening present and the hopeful future—informs, shapes, shadows and haunts trans lifeforms and discourses. They offer critical insight into the historical-socio-medical construction of the hegemonic ‘trans’ body narrative and its disciplinary affects. Furthermore, the articles offer trans-specific narratives that give form and shape to alternative, intersectional and multi-disciplinary theorizations of time.
The authors in this special-issue draw from literature in trans studies, both foundational and cutting-edge, and bring these texts together with a wide range of literatures from other critical scholarships, such as disability studies, mad studies, carceral studies, queer studies, affect studies, Chicanx/Latinx studies, Indigenous studies, Afrofuturism and speculative fiction. Thinkers from within these fields, and outside trans studies, have been exploring and challenging for decades the specific temporal dimensions of structural oppression and subaltern subject formation. It is crucial to acknowledge that the intellectual lineage of this trans-centered project features theory and creative work authored by and about marginalized non-trans authors and communities.
This special-issue collectively demonstrates the necessity of a thoroughly intersectional approach to trans temporality, and trans studies topics more generally. ‘Trans Temporalities’ offers readers a series of tools with which to critically engage with the mutual imbrications of materiality, discourse and time. It does so through the analytical framework of trans, a constantly evolving category that reflects the experiences of gender nonnormative subjects who live at the intersections of social-structural formations such as race, post/coloniality, dis/ability, sexuality, class and, of course, gender. It is our hope that these conversations continue across discipline and geography, through scholarly and creative narrative forms, and inspire further engagement along, around, through and against this exciting survey.