By Andrea DeHaan, CHaSS Communications Editor
Susan Stryker and Taylor Petrey will visit Utah State University next month as part of the LGBTQIA+ Health and History Series. Coordinated by USU History faculty, the series was created to augment awareness of LGBTQ issues through visiting speakers.
Chris Babits, temporary assistant professor of history, and Julia Gossard, associate professor of history, worked together to oversee the series, which received support from six colleges and various centers, departments, and units across campus. This includes funding from the Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research, the USU Inclusion Center, and the Tanner Talks Series. Patrick Mason, professor and Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture, is also providing support for Petrey’s visit to USU.
Stryker, the premier theorist and historian for trans issues and professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, will visit the Logan campus on April 6 and 7. Her talk at 6 p.m. on April 6, “What Transpires Now: Trans History in the Present,” will focus on her current book project, “Changing Gender,” a look at the contemporary culture war narrative around trans issues and the surrounding historical context.
“Dr. Stryker suggests that trans identities are contentious in the present because they challenge widely held assumptions about the nature of reality and the meaning of bodily difference,” said Babits.
USU will screen Stryker’s Emmy-winning documentary “Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria” on April 7 at 6 p.m. and hold learning circles during her visit. Applications to participate are still being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis at the following link: https://usu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7NG5InTpkUImLki
Stryker’s work is considered foundational to understanding the history of trans Americans, and her documentary films have earned “critical and scholarly praise for highlighting the role that trans individuals played in the LGBTQ+ activism of the 1950s and 1960s,” Babits said.
The three-part series of Tanner Talks, organized in cooperation with the Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research’s Sexuality and the Body cluster, kicked off with a visit from social and cultural historian Jen Manion. Manion’s Logan campus presentation in October 2022 focused on their most recent work, “Female Husbands,” a study of trans identity at the turn of the nineteenth century.
Events will conclude with Taylor Petrey on April 13. An associate professor of religion at Kalamazoo College and author of “Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism,” Petrey will present a lecture at 6 p.m. entitled “Queer Kinship in Latter-day Saint History and Thought.”
“Dr. Petrey is one of the most important scholars working today at Mormonism’s theological and historical intersections with gender, marriage, and sexuality,” Mason said. “Recognizing these are inherently difficult and often controversial subjects to discuss, Petrey’s work is marked by deep research in the archives and abundant respect for all of his subjects.”
According to Babits, organizers hope the LGBTQIA+ Health and History Series will educate the USU community about trans and queer history and serve as venues for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff to feel welcome and valued at USU.