Jules Gill-Peterson researches and teaches in transgender studies, queer studies, critical race theory, childhood studies, and the medical humanities. Her book, Histories of the Transgender Child, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in Fall 2018 and won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction, as well as the Children’s Literature Association’s Book Award. She has also been recognized with a Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award from Pitt. Histories of the Transgender Child shatters the widespread myth that transgender children have only existed for the past few years, uncovering their widespread medicalization during the twentieth century. Through a trans of color critique of medicine, it contextualizes the history of transgender children within the whiteness of gender’s plasticity and its corollary exclusion of black and trans of color children from the medical model. This critique opens up an array of possibilities for reimagining today’s clinic by learning to listen to what trans children know about themselves, grounding medical care in the recognition of their selfhood, and critiquing binary models of transition and dysphoria that continue to confine children to narratives ending in heterosexual masculinity or femininity.
Gill-Peterson is currently at work on a book project entitled Gender Underground: A History of Trans DIY, which reframes the trans twentieth century not through institutional medicine, but the myriad do-it-yourself practices of trans people that forged parallel medical and social worlds of transition. Beginning in the mid century, when doctors would not provide surgeries requested by trans people, and exploring trans diasporas connecting the US to the Caribbean and Mexico, it uncovers a rich underground tradition that found inventive access to hormones, alternate routes to surgery, and care for the self and others. The book also examines some of the first clinics and counseling organizations formed by and for trans people, many which maintained intimate connections to trans of color activist groups. DIY is not just the object of the book, but a theory and a method. Gender Underground argues that “DIY trans studies” affirms practices of survival, archiving, and creative world making from the least visible and enfranchised positions, those of low income and trans of color people.
Gill-Peterson currently serves as a General Co-Editor of Transgender Studies Quarterly (Duke University Press). She has also published numerous articles and essays on race, transgender medicine, and queer childhood, including in Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Transgender Studies Quarterly, and GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. She is also co-editor of “The Child Now,” a special issue of GLQ, and “The Biopolitics of Plasticity,” a special issue of Social Text.