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How to Make the U.S. Safe for Transgender People
Imagine being identified as a male on your driver’s license but a female on your birth certificate. That’s the Kafkaesque experience of many transgender individuals including scholar and author Paisley Currah, whose important new book, Sex Is as Sex Does, examines how sex functions as a tool of government.
Currah, a professor of Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and Brooklyn College, joins The Thought Project to talk about his book and why the state should stop regulating gender identity.
He emphasizes that ending the policing of sex is an important step toward eradicating misogyny and unequal power structures that are based on gender.
“Women still do all this care work,” he says, citing one example. Marriage is another. “Gender is always about hierarchy,” he says.
He makes the case for moving beyond identity politics to make the U.S. a more humane place for trans and queer people through broad policies that promote equality. These include implementing national health care, abolishing prisons, and attacking income inequality.
Listen in to hear more about his groundbreaking book and his vision for true gender equality.
How LBGTQ Individuals Experience Criminal Justice
In this Pride Month episode of The Thought Project podcast, we talk to Max Osborn, a recent graduate of the Criminal Justice Ph.D. program at the CUNY Graduate Center who has carved out a niche as a queer criminologist, studying how LGBTQ individuals are affected by the criminal justice system.
For his doctoral dissertation, Osborn, who is transgender and uses he and they pronouns, interviewed 42 LGBTQ individuals living in New York City to understand what their encounters with the police and with social services were like and how these interactions impacted their well-being, behavior, and sense of safety.
He found, for example, that queer people, depending on the context, “altered their presentations to be more gender normative, to stand out less, to kind of anticipate what was being expected of them and sort of conform to that.”
Osborn says that the LGBTQ people he spoke to described anticipating what would happen if the police or other authority figures discovered they were queer or trans. A persistent concern is whether they can pass as cisgender, knowing that gender nonconforming individuals are often targeted by law enforcement officials.
Osborn learned too about the obstacles that LGBTQ individuals encountered in accessing social services and health care, including cost barriers and discrimination. Some LBGTQ interviewees shared wrenching stories about being misunderstood, mis-gendered, or mistreated. Osborn also interviewed service providers and observed that many of them were doing excellent work but were overloaded with clients.
Osborn has published his work across multiple disciplines in journals including Violence Against Women, Trauma, Violence & Abuse, and the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.
Later this year, he starts a tenure-track faculty position at Villanova University.
Listen in to learn more about his timely research.
Post Roe, How to Advance Women’s Rights, LGBTQ Rights
Anne Valk, a specialist in women’s history and public history, joins The Thought Project for a Pride Month conversation that touches on the curtailing of LGBTQ rights and of women’s rights by the Supreme Court and state legislators.
Valk is a professor of History and director of the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at the CUNY Graduate Center. As a public historian, Valk focuses on the ways history is preserved and presented to people through monuments, museums, libraries, and more. Also a noted oral historian, she has written about the history of second-wave feminism and of racial segregation in the U.S. Next month, the American Social History Project will host 30 middle and high school teachers for a National Endowment for the Humanities–funded institute on teaching LGBTQ history.
Valk takes a long view of the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, noting that, “Roe has been eroded almost immediately since it was decided.” She adds, “The only way that positive change has happened is because of people pushing for it at all different levels and in lots of different forms.”
Valk also talks about LGBTQ rights and the importance of teaching of LGBTQ history in schools, touching on research showing its benefits in boosting students’ mental health and reducing bullying.
Listen in for a timely conversation about women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and what the past reveals about both.
Freeing Black People From Oppressive Mental Health Care
In this Juneteenth Thought Project episode, we talk to Britton Williams about the Black MAP Project and reinventing mental health care for the Black community.
Just over 100 years ago, a white mob lynched and mutilated Mary Turner, a Black woman who was eight months pregnant, for criticizing the lynching of her husband. How did Turner’s family and community heal from this horror? Britton Williams, a Social Welfare doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center, explores that question and related ones through the Black MAP Project.
Williams joins this Juneteenth episode of The Thought Project to talk about the Black MAP Project and her research into the ways that Black people have promoted their own health and well-being. She plans to use her findings to re-fashion mental health care so that serves Black people, free from the bias and oppression have pervaded the field.
“Enslaved peoples who sought freedom through escape were once labeled with a disorder termed drapetomania,” she writes on the website. “Black people’s drive and desire for freedom was pathologized. This is only one example of the ways in which Black people have been oppressed under the guise of ‘treatment.’”
Listen in to learn how Williams envisions mental health care that reflects and supports the Black community.
Promoting Pride at CUNY
In this Pride Month podcast, we hear from the director and associate director of the CUNY LGBTQI+ Consortium, which advocates for and celebrates the CUNY LGBTQ community. Director Jacqueline Brashears (she/hers), a.k.a. Dr. Unicorn, is a biology professor at LaGuardia Community College. She is an LGTQ advocate and trans woman who has blogged about her transition. Associate Director JC Carlson (they/them) is a student life events manager and LGBTQI+ programs coordinator at Queens College. In 2018, they founded CUNY Pridefest, which returns to Queens College this year on Friday, June 10.
Brashears and Carlson discuss the history and recent expansion of the CUNY LGBTQI+ Consortium, which began at Queens College in 2017. The consortium now includes 14 CUNY campuses across all five boroughs. The CUNY Graduate Center is the latest campus to join the consortium and is collaborating with CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies to host a program during Pride Month.
Listen in to learn more.
The Russia-Ukraine War Sets Dangerous New Precedents
The Russia-Ukraine war, now in its 11th week, continues to prove analysts wrong. This week on The Thought Project podcast, Julie George, a professor of Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and Queens College and a visiting professor at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, explains why the conflict confounds her and other regional experts.
“It's very hard to predict how the war will unfold, in part because we predict the future based on previous events,” George says, “and a lot about this war is unprecedented and very different and reflects a different tactic taken by the Russians and by the Russian leadership.”
George describes President Vladimir Putin’s stance as, "We are not going to accept failures in this war, and when faced with pushback, we will escalate and go on the offensive."
George comments on the U.S. foreign policy approach to the war, including the tight coordination with NATO and the billions of dollars in aid sent to Ukraine. She likens the weapons support for Ukraine to the World War II Lend-Lease Act, and she notes that U.S. leadership is sending a “signal to Putin that the expectation for a quick war, the expectation for an easy victory, the expectation for American acquiescence and European acquiescence to this just brazen occupation of a sovereign state is something that the U.S. will resist.”
demystifies what others are doing at the GC