Whose Cis-Story Is This?

Event Date: 

Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • UCen Harbor Room

A. Finn Enke


Center for Research on Women and Social Justice
Department of Feminist Studies
Hull Lecture 2013
A. Finn Enke
Whose Cis-Story Is This?
Challenging Cis/Trans/Gender Oppositions in Feminist History
Thursday, February 7th
4pm UCen
Harbor Room
The last decade has seen the elaboration of histories of trans exclusion from feminist venues, and also the institutionalization of the term “cis.” Both pose binary oppositions between transgender and not-trans that emphasize trans bodies as the critical signifier of gender identity. In this talk, I first consider narrative tropes of 1970s feminist exclusion of trans people and question the investment in defining feminism as that which is not trans. I suggest alternative histories and ask whether we can analyze transphobic processes without ceding the history of feminism to its most trans-exclusive elements. Second, I refer to the work that “cis” has done to consolidate a binary opposition between trans and not trans by reducing trans to its most medicalized and exceptional model. Both narratives—the historical and contemporary—produce the particularity of trans while erasing trans subjects. In contrast, a transfeminist historical perspective encourages recognition of the centrality of transgender subjects to iconic feminist formations as well as the contemporary uncontainability of all bodies and transitions.
A. Finn Enke is associate professor of History, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Director of LGBT Studies at University of Wisconsin, Madison. Enke is currently working on a history of trans and feminist activism titled, Gender Changes: Transfeminist Activism from the 1960s to the New Millennium, and a graphic novel about the 1960’s and 1970s titled, With Finn and Wing: Growing Up Amphibious in a Nuclear Age. Enke’s previous works include Finding the Movement: Sexuality, Contested Space, and Feminist Activism (Duke U. Press, 2007), and (as editor) Transfeminist Perspectives: Within and Beyond Gender Studies (Temple University Press, 2012).


Co-sponsored by the Hull Chair in Feminist Studies, the Center for Research on Women and Social Justice, the Research Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the History Department, and the Sociology Department.