This past month, Women’s and Gender Studies had the honor of hosting Dr. Jules Gill-Peterson. Currently working as an associate professor of History at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Gill-Peterson focuses her research on Transgender History, the History of Sexuality, Gender and Race, and the History of Science and Medicine. She is the author of Histories of the Transgender Child (2018) and a co-editor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, with her next book, A Short History of Trans Misogyny, which is to be released in January 2024.
On September 27, 2023, the Department of WGST hosted Dr. Jules Gill-Peterson for “Sex Work and Speculation: What is Trans Womanhood’s History.” Dr. Gill-Peterson began her discourse with the founding questions of “When? How? And Why? did trans ways of life come into existence as WE recognize them?” This discussion engaged a radically incomplete and libelous archive of Mary Jones, a Black trans woman who entered into the written record of arrests as a sex worker in Antebellum, New York. Jones’s lifelong speculations on the mobility and peril of free, Black womanhood ignites grounds for historicizing modern trans womanhood as one way of life that grew in the wake of the planetary dispossessions of colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and the rise of the capitalist wage labor system.
Along with her lecture, and a “Trans History as Public History” roundtable, Dr. Gill-Peterson was hosted by two of USC’s WGST Student Assistants, Olivia Tiseth and Sophie Conrad, onto the up-and-coming student-run WGST podcast, Women’s and Gender Studies: Unboxed! Dr. Gill-Peterson is joined on the podcast by Historic Columbia’s Director of Outreach Engagement, Kat Allen, and USC’s Bri Newton who serves as Assistant Director of LGBTQIA+ Education in the Office of Student Multicultural Affairs. While listening, audience members get a look into how Dr. Gill-Peterson found her passion and took the steps to achieve her current position as a scholar as well as looking into how she wrote her first book, Histories of the Transgender Child, and the research she is continuing with this topic today.