The taxpayer-funded University of Arizona will officially launch America’s first transgender studies program.
The program, which will confer master’s degrees, is slated to launch as early as fall 2017, reports Inside Higher Ed.
Arizona’s transgender studies program will focus on sex, gender, cultural issues, political issues and the life experiences of men who act like they are women and women who act like they are men.
The transgender studies program will be the end result of the public school’s Transgender Studies Initiative, which was introduced in 2013.
In preparation for Arizona’s transgender studies program, administrators have hired three professors. They are currently housed in the departments of women’s studies, anthropology and religious studies.
The school expects to hire a fourth professor for the new program as well.
“The three people who had been hired were all white, and we were really trying to prioritize hiring faculty of color,” Susan Stryker, the taxpayer-funded professor in charge of the transgender studies program, told Inside Higher Ed.
Stryker currently leads Arizona’s Institute for LGBT Studies.
“I’ve been working on this issue since the early 1990s,” she told Inside Higher Ed. “I have far more work on my plate right now than I feel I can actually do well. It’s like wanting to have an appetizer, main course and dessert, and they bring it all at once.”
Stryker is an associate professor of women’s studies at Arizona. Her body of written work includes “the massive, two-volume ‘Transgender Studies Reader'” and “Queer Pulp: Perverse Passions from the Golden Age of the Paperback.” She also directed a documentary called “Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria.”
On her Facebook page, Stryker likes Al Jazeera English, Occupy San Francisco, Going to Yoga. Barack Obama and, of course, Arianna Huffington.
One of the three people who have already been hired is anthropology professor Eric Plemons. He teaches a course called Sex, Gender, Science, Medicine. He is also designing a course focusing largely on sex reassignment surgery, he said.
This fall, the Arizona campus will host an anonymously-funded conference called “Trans*studies: An International Transdisciplinary Conference on Gender, Embodiment and Sexuality.” About 200 people have already signed up for the four-day event, which will feature presentations, art exhibits and various performances.
“There are some really interesting trans performance artists working in Latin America and Spain, and we’re going to be able to bring a number of those people,” Stryker told Inside Higher Ed.
Since 2014 Arizona’s Transgender Studies Initiative has hosted a transgender journal, “TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly.”
While Stryker gets “the paperwork all lined up” for the master’s degree program, the school could begin offering a transgender studies certificate.
Earlier this year, the University of Victoria in Canada established what is believed to be the first endowed chair in transgender studies in the world.