APA Eastern Call for Papers: Trans Erotics

The Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love invites papers that explore trans erotics for the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division meeting in Philadelphia, January 8-11 2020.

In his 2011 poem, “How to Make Love to a Trans Person“, Gabe Moses provides an evocative description of coding, learning, loving, and pleasuring that challenge pre-existing notions of arousal, attraction, and being with through an account of the body.

Bodies have been learning each other forever.
It’s what bodies do.
But we could never forget how to use our hearts
Even if we tried.
That’s the important part.
Don’t worry about the bodies.
They’ve got this.

In her 2014 essay “When Selves Have Sex: What the Phenomenology of Trans Sexuality Can Teach About Sexual Orientation” Dr. Bettcher offers an account “erotic structuralism”.  This account makes the case for an “eroticized self” within an “interactional account” of desire and distinguishes between attraction and arousal.  For Bettcher, a consequence of this is a “blurring” of the gender identity / sexual orientation distinction for there is a “core gender-inflected erotic self in addition to a persistent attraction to a type of gendered persons” (618).  Bodies figure it out in space and time with other bodies.

Both thinkers present both different modes of exploring trans erotics and accounts of being with others in erotic encounters.  At times in tension with each other, these accounts invite us to seriously, ethically, generously, and lovingly trouble binaries of bodies, pleasures, intimacies, and notions of the self.

SPSL takes quite seriously Dr. Bettcher’s reminder to us that “we’re talking about people—people who are in the room, people trying (and succeeding) to philosophize themselves” not things.  And so we invite papers that carefully and care-fully take up trans erotics.

We invite submissions that include but are not limited to papers that:

  • Engage with the ethics described in Moses’ poem.
    • What ethical preconditions—or responsibility to ourselves and others (and ourselves with others)—might be required in the recoding that Moses offers?
  • Take up the claims made in Dr. Bettcher’s essay
    • Do we have a “core gender-inflected erotic self”?
    • Is Bettcher using a Lordean account of the erotic in her piece?
  • Discuss the relationship (either tensions, commonalities, or both) between the erotics of other precaritized bodies.

We specifically invite work from trans thinkers (particularly trans people of colour).

Papers should be no more than 3000 words long.
Full paper submissions should be sent to: jordan.pascoe@manhattan.edu; Deadline August 2, 2019.

For more information on the APA Eastern, visit: https://www.apaonline.org/event/2020eastern

Happy New Year!

…at least for those people filing birth certificates in New York City.

New York City’s new non-binary gender option—gender “X”—is officially in effect. New Yorkers can now change their birth certificates to reflect their gender preferences, and parents can choose “X” for their newborns.

The new law brings NYC in line with California, Oregon and Washington D.C.; a similar provision will be enacted in New Jersey in February.


“It’s a clean slate–and a new world.”

Josie Totah’s (of the television sitcom Champions) personal essay at Times.com about her identity as a transgender woman is generous, thoughtful, and hopeful.  I am excited for her “clean slate,” her “new world,” and most importantly, all of her exciting new acting roles!

There are still things that scare me. Identity documents can be hard for transgender people to change. I’m afraid of that moment when someone looks at the ID, looks at the photo, looks at the gender marker – looks at you. I never want to feel like I’m not allowed in somewhere because of who I am. I’m scared that being transgender is going to limit me in that way. And I’m scared that I’ll be judged, rejected, made uncomfortable, that people will look at me differently.

But when my friends and family call me Josie, it feels like I’m being seen. It’s something everyone wants, to feel understood. And, as a semi-religious person who went to Catholic school, I have come to believe that God made me transgender. I don’t feel like I was put in the wrong body. I don’t feel like there was a mistake made. I believe that I am transgender to help people understand differences. It allows me to gain perspective, to be more accepting of others, because I know what it feels like to know you’re not like everyone else.

Also, hat tip to Jazz Jennings and her groundbreaking series I am Jazz for helping young trans people (and their loved ones) like Josie.