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Hellholes or Saviors: Transnational Visions of Southeast Asian Trans Surgery

Event Type
gender, health care, lgbtq, queer identity, social justice
Department of Gender and Women's Studies
1205 W Nevada St
Apr 23, 2019   6:00 pm  
Aren Aizura
Free and open to the public
Originating Calendar
Asian American Studies

This talk investigates political economies of risk logic by looking at how transnational trans and queer studies comprehend trans people’s patronage of “back alley surgeons.” Aizura compares online reviews of and videos about Pratunam Polyclinic, a walk-in aesthetic surgery clinic in Bangkok, Thailand with a large trans clientele, which some consider a “hellhole” but which others describe as a renowned center for transgender surgeries. This comparison troubles the exceptionalist logic that global north nations offer the best surgical care and yield the most satisfied trans surgery candidates. Arguing that the spectral other of the “high quality” or “caring” surgical procedure is a subject thought to be condemned to mutilation, disfigurement, and unimaginable pain and suffering, Aizura shows how this spectralizes and marginalizes low-income trans people (particularly trans and gender nonconforming people outside the global north) who access low-cost surgical procedures as naturally risky or insensitive to “bad” care.

Aren Aizura is an assistant professor in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota and the author of Mobile Subjects: transnational imaginaries of gender reassignment (Duke UP, 2018). He is the co-editor of the Transgender Studies Reader 2 (Routledge 2013) and his work has appeared in numerous journals and books, including Queer Necropolitics (Routledge, 2014) and Trans Studies: Beyond Homo/Hetero Normativities (Rutgers University Press, 2015). He is currently working on a new project on mobility, space, and transgender representation in film.

This event is paid for by the Student Cultural Programming Fee, and co-sponsored by Anthropology, Asian American Studies, the LGBT Resource Center, and the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

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