This panel will explore two modes of cultural production within Thai LGBTI and queer communities: the role of gender reassignment in shaping identities and identifications of queer and LGBTI persons, and the privileging of male-based homonormativity. Homonormativity is a term that is associated with reactive, and at times, regressive developments within some LGBTI communities. Lisa Duggan writes, “[it] is a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions, but upholds and sustains them.” Among Southeast Asian queer literature, this is often pinned to patriarchal heteronormative beliefs in the West and cultural mores inscribed within tradition. As a consequence, there has been both an overemphasis on men’s sexuality in public and private discourse, and systematic exclusions of lesbian, queer, intersex, and transgendered persons.
When negotiating the role of homonormativity in Thailand, the panel will contemplate ways in which spaces and practices of gender reassignment either reinforce or combat restrictive narratives such as patriarchy, liberalism, and capitalism. As a booming industry in Southeast Asia, the practice of gender reassignment has brought transnational migrations to the region at unprecedented levels and has had marked influence on its economies and societies. The panel will explore the impact of migration to and from Thailand due to sexual reassignment practices and will unpack the distortive effects that ensue.
Questions we hope to explore include: How have lesbian, intersex, and transsexual persons been implicated by patriarchal homonormativity? In what ways has the practice of gender reassignment surgery either reinforced or departed from cultures of homonormativity? How have transnational migrations of persons seeking gender reassignment surgery impacted local queer imaginaries and realities? What are critiques of homonormativity as they relate to queer of color and feminist of color perspectives? How have Thai transgendered persons organized within the country and internationally?
Moderated by Brandon Fischer, speakers include:
- Professor Noa Ben-Asher, LLB, Professor of Law at Pace Law School
- Aren Aizura, PhD, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University
- Byung’chu Dredge Käng, Doctoral Student in the Department of Anthropology at Emory University, MPH with a focus on Global Epidemiology
- Hua Boomyapisomparn, lead organizer with the Thai Transgender Alliance
Reception to follow.