Queer U 2016 Abstract and Bios

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Dr. Lucas Crawford 

Keynote Speaker

Title The Transgender Lives of the High Line Park

Bio Lucas Crawford is the Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair in Gender Studies at Simon Fraser University and the current Critic-In-Residence of CWILA (Canadian Women in the Literary Arts). Lucas is the author of Sideshow Concessions (a book of poetry that won the 2015 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry) and of Transgender Architectonics (a book of scholarly essays that came out in December 2015). This summer, Montreal’s Matrix Magazine will publish a “trans lit” issue edited by Lucas. Over the years, Lucas has founded a drag king troupe in Edmonton; organized events and actions about justice, disability, food, and fatness; undertaken a five-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts; made and screened two short films; and a host of other fun things relating to gender, space, and bodies. Lucas is from rural Nova Scotia and has lived in London (ON), Montreal, and Edmonton on the way to Vancouver

Abstract The High Line Park floats a story and a half above the western edge of Manhattan, snaking its way from Chelsea Market to the Rail Yards, a 1.45 mile distance. By and large, the response to the High Line has been nothing short of glowing: this narrow green strip of public space has attracted five million visitors per year since the opening of its first phase in June 2009; as new phases of the High Line Park open, museums and high-end boutiques spring up weed-like alongside the park; and, High Line-inspired projects are underway across the United States.
These may seem like the happy endings to a story of urban transformation, but this talk will argue that the High Line Park is haunted by transgender in at least three ways. First, we will see that the High Line serves as an icon of the gentrification of the meatpacking district; that is, the park’s existence depends on the removal of racialized trans people from the area. Secondly, we will examine the curious fact that transgender makes no appearance in any communiqués of the park’s non-profit group, (Friends of the High Line) despite the group’s desire to “preserve” cultural history. Finally, we will see that in popular commentaries on the park, transgender is conjured up compulsively, as if fans of the park cannot escape its memory.
With these transgender ghosts among us, the High Line Park allows us to ask broader questions of LGBT Studies and its fetishes for urban design and for cities (its “metronormativity”). Can the design of the High Line Park affect visitors in a way that could be described as transgender? Can design combat the harmful outcomes of displacement? Is there a particular mode of memory or history that could be described as transgender? What is the relationship between transgender and architecture? If, as I’ll suggest, both can be thought of as types of making (of Poiesis), then how might the High Line participate in transgender “making,” despite its history? How might we find new ways for architects and LGBT scholars to collaborate? At a time when Vancouverites are brainstorming and debating fervently about projects such as the Jim Deva memorial plaza and a memorial to sex workers lost to violence, how might the case of the High Line enrich our conversations about the fascinating human habit of remembering people with public physical objects?

K Ho

Reflections on QTIPOC Visibility, Photography, and Decolonial Love

Panel – Spaces of Resistance: Challenging Normativity in Queer Place & Communities

Bio K is a queer, non-binary Chinese settler raised in unceded Coast Salish territories. They put energy into QTIPOC communities, representations, and activisms. This term, they are leading a student directed seminar titled “Voices from the Margins: Critical Perspectives on Race, Sexuality, and Settler Colonialism” (GRSJ 425A), focusing on women of colour and Indigenous feminisms, queer of colour and Two-Spirit critiques, and community- and art-based resistance movements. In their free time, they enjoy biking through cities, sitting under maple trees, and being suspended in or by the ocean. K is an editor for The Talon and a portrait photographer whose work is framed in community representation and radical visibility.

Abstract Given that queer, trans, Indigenous and people of colour (QTIPOCs) hold culturally, corporeally, and ancestrally-specific experiences, and live out queer realities that do not necessarily endorse white homonormative agendas, how can QTIPOC communities embody forms of anti-/decolonial queer allyship? What practices of relational solidarity do queer settlers of colour need to take on to be more accountable to Indigenous queer, trans, and Two-Spirit community members and the unceded lands upon which we live? What can we learn from each other, and where might there be opportunities for deeper, more critical engagements?
This presentation is a reflection on a photo project on QTIPOC visibility and anti/de-colonial love that I undertook in the fall of 2015. My project had a two-fold objective: first, to amplify positive and much-needed representations of queer racialized peoples through photography, and second, to spark conversations about love, community, and land, gleaning reflections from photo subjects on “practices of allyship, activism, and decolonization […] within intimate geographies of the home, the family, and between friends and lovers” (Hunt and Holmes 158). This presentation will provide a visual overview of the photo project, offer critical reflections, and highlight places for further engagement and anti-/decolonial accountability on the part of QTPOC settler communities.

Andrée McKee with guest speaker, Natasha Adsit

Geographies of Homonormativity: The complicity of queer spaces

Panel – Spaces of Resistance: Challenging Normativity in Queer Place & Communities

Bio Andrée McKee is a first-year Master’s student at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at UBC. They are a transfemme genderqueer white settler whose research interests lie somewhere at the interstices of transgender studies, queer mobility studies, critical race theory, somatechnics, and media studies. Andrée graduated with a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Dartmouth College, where she received the 2015 Ezekiel Webber Memorial Award for queer activism. They are also a 2015-2016 Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth Fellow.

Guest Speaker Bio Natasha is 42 years old. She is a north west coast native who has grown up in the cities. Natasha first started transitioning at 16 years of age. Being rejected by family has meant she grew up on the streets. As an adult she is finding herself and a sense of peace and stability.

Abstract My presentation will explore the ways in which homonormativity plays out spatially and delineate the consequences for gender variant and racialized queer people. Building on Lisa Duggan’s (2002) definition of homonormativity as “a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions but upholds and sustains them while promising the possibility of a demobilized gay constituency and a privatized, depoliticized gay culture anchored in domesticity and consumption” (179), I will use Davie Street in Vancouver as an example of how queer social spaces are often predicated on consumption and cater to mostly white, cisgender customers. Spaces that are specifically geared toward transgender people are almost always medicalized due to the pathologization of gender variance. Although some social events that are explicitly welcoming of trans and gender variant people do occur, they are almost always held in venues whose primary function is not the creation of trans-affirming space. Due to the transitory nature of queer spaces that are welcoming of gender variance or aimed at transgender people, access to their events and services requires significant personal capital and mobility. Although some university departments and groups create queer spaces that are inclusive and critical, they are often open only to students who have the privilege of attending an institution of higher education. My presentation will make use of auto-ethnography and online discourse analysis to critique the ways in which many queer spaces come to collude with neoliberal capitalism, transphobia, and white supremacy.

Max Kepler

Embodiment of gender in partner dance:  An interactive workshop

sponsored and co-organized by the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, and co-organized by the GRSJ Graduate Studies Association (GRSJ GSA)

Bio Max Kepler founded Queer Seattle Tango in 2010 to provide a welcoming space for learning and dancing tango for GLBTQ-identified individuals and couples, anyone who enjoys dancing with same-sex partners, people everywhere on the gender spectrum, and everyone who appreciates the opportunity to dance outside narrowly defined traditional gender roles. She is also an avid dancer of lindy hop and balboa and has been teaching open role swing classes since 2007.  Max teaches from a feminist perspective and for an inclusive audience.  All of her Seattle-based classes are wheelchair-accessible.  She holds a master’s degree in cognitive neuroscience and considers herself gender-fluid.


* No prerequisites – absolute beginners to dance welcome

* People of all genders welcome

* No partner needed – all present will have the opportunity to move and learn with different people throughout the workshop

In today’s social dance world we can choose our partners freely based on our mutual preferences and tastes.  An attitude of self-respect and respect for differences can go a long way in helping us to feel comfortable in our own skin and to create a positive experience for our current and future dance partners. In this workshop, participants adopt a positive attitude of self-respect by learning to communicate their ideas with intention and clarity, practicing the art of suggestion and accompaniment, inventing stylistic interpretations of partnered movement in keeping with their own gender identity, and experimenting with new means of projecting static gender or allowing for gender fluidity.

Anne Barringer

Ulcerative Colitis, Sexuality, and the Limits of the “Leaky Body”

Panel – Claiming our Bodies: Destabilizing Normalcy in Sexuality

Bio Anne Barringer, a self-described “sex geek,” is completing the final term of her undergraduate degree at UBC, where she is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Critical Studies in Sexuality. As a sexuality researcher and educator, Anne’s research interests include non-heteronormative and stigmatized sexualities and communities, intersectional feminism, the liberatory potential of sexual pleasure, and the relationship between sexuality, gender, and health.

Abstract In this presentation, I explore the intersection of sexuality, bodies, and illness through an autoethnographical lens. Drawing on theories from gender, disability, and queer studies, I examine how intersecting identities such as gender, sexual orientation, and disability affect an individual’s lived realities in relation to the management of ulcerative colitis.  This paper considers how sexuality and sense of self are affected by the day-to-day struggles of ulcerative colitis, and critiques the relationship of the “leaky body” to Foucault’s conceptualization of the utopian body. I problematize society’s limiting expectations of the female body and its intersection with illness as it reflects on my own lived experience — not only as a woman with ulcerative colitis, but also as a woman who once perceived her sexuality as the defining aspect of her identity. The presentation also addresses the confluence of sexuality and the limits of the “leaky body” as the reality of illness troubles the ideals of what is an acceptably sexual, feminine, and “healthy” body. Addressing issues of community and wellness, I consider the various methods of disease management utilized by individuals with ulcerative colitis, from self-care practices to relationship and community support, and integration of illness, health, and sexuality.

Sonja Cvoric 

“Jilling Off”: How Cisgender Women Internalize and Subvert Heteropatriarchal Scripts through Masturbation and Sex Toys

Panel – Claiming our Bodies: Destabilizing Normalcy in Sexuality

Bio Sonja Cvoric is an avid reader and occasional poet and critic studying English Literature and Philosophy at UBC; she’ll be graduating in May and then taking a (brief? indefinite?) break from academia. If not reading for school or pleasure, you can still find her involved in literary goings-on as Secretary for UBC’s English Students’ Association and Membership Coordinator with Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. She subsists mostly on tea, brisk walks, and reorganizing her bookshelves.

Abstract The socializing forces of education and media perpetuate scripted and normative assumptions about women’s masturbatory practices and their use of sex toys. My analysis of women’s desire within the Western capitalist heteropatriarchy situates Caitlin Moran’s young adult novel, How to Build a Girl – told through a teenage cisgender female protagonist, Johanna Morrigan’s perspective – amidst topical academic scholarship to investigate the complexities and paradoxes of women’s internalization and subversion of sexual and masturbatory narratives. School-based sexual education (SBSE) typically follows a problem-oriented model, framed around the negative outcomes of pregnancy and STIs. This approach inevitably couples female sexual development with menstruation and reproduction, and therefore male presence, entirely erasing a discourse of female desire. Moran’s book serves as an informal, sex positive, educational alternative to the SBSE’s normative constructions and depictions of female sexuality. Johanna offers readers an alternative model of a sexual female teen subject, one who embraces her sexual desires and masturbates regularly but is nonetheless frustrated to discover she has “no template for where [to] fit [her own orgasm] into sex” (Moran 239). Johanna’s socio-economic status and age mark her as ineligible in using sex toys that are marketed as such; instead, she resorts to “doubling [the] functionalities” of personal care products, working her way from the family hairbrush to her own personal “Starter Dildo,” a shoplifted roll-on deodorant (39). Although this may come across as anti-capitalistic and subversive, Johanna believes the deodorant brand “knew” “millions of teenage girls were fapping themselves senseless” with their products, “carefully contoured” to resemble pink-lidded, “cheerful, chunky cock[s]” (39). Her view actually marks even women’s subversive masturbatory activities as (pre)scripted and foreseen by corporations who market products specifically catered to women’s subversive, rebellious behaviour. Johanna’s private thoughts about masturbation take part in two publicly recognizable and opposing discourses: masturbation as self-abuse and as queer self-love. I think we can eliminate the need for the distinction by queering masturbation in a way that encompasses this precise dialectic – comparing it to BDSM with one’s self. This kind of outlook even makes space in women’s masturbatory practices for the (arguably self-abusive) internalized heteropatriarchal normative scripts and for the (arguably self-loving) uninhibited fantasies to exist paradoxically and simultaneously at the same time. Literary characters and the authors that write them should continue to articulate and experiment with possibilities for women’s identities as sexual and human beings in order to challenge, and hopefully one day overthrow, normative scripts and standards.


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