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The Clinic and Elsewhere Speaker Series: Aren Aizura, "Hell Holes or Saviors: Transnational Visions of Southeast Asian Trans Surgery"

Aren Aizura, Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of Minnesota, investigates the spectrum of perspectives on the quality of care in Southeast Asian clinics providing transgender surgeries, paying particular attention to the marginalization of low-income trans people.
by Betsy VanNoy Jan 15, 2019
When Jan 23, 2019
from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Where Foster Auditorium
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Aren Aizura, Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of Minnesota, investigates the spectrum of perspectives on the quality of care in Southeast Asian clinics providing transgender surgeries, paying particular attention to the marginalization of low-income trans people.


Gender and Sex Equity Speaker Series: The Clinic and Elsewhere - Critical Conversations on Trans and Intersex Wellness

Speaker: Aren Aizura

Title: Hell Holes Or Saviors: Transnational Visions of Southeast Asian Trans Surgery

Abstract: This talk investigates political economies of risk logic by looking at how transnational trans and queer studies comprehend trans people’s patronage of “back alley surgeons.” I compare online reviews of and videos about Pratunam Polyclinic, a walk-in aesthetic surgery clinic in Bangkok, Thailand with a large trans clientele, which some consider a “hellhole” but which others describe as a renowned center for transgender surgeries. This comparison troubles the exceptionalist logic that global north nations offer the best surgical care and yield the most satisfied trans surgery candidates. Arguing that the spectral other of the “high quality” or “caring” surgical procedure is a subject thought to be condemned to mutilation, disfigurement, and unimaginable pain and suffering, I show how this spectralizes and marginalizes low-income trans people (particularly trans and gender nonconforming people outside the global north) who access low-cost surgical procedures as naturally risky or insensitive to “bad” care.

BioAren Aizura is an Assistant Professor in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including  Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Medical Anthropology: Cross-cultural studies in health and illness, Asian Studies Review, and ADA: A Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology and the edited collections Queer Necropolitics, Trans Studies: Beyond Homo/Hetero Normativities, Transfeminist Perspectives in and beyond Transgender and Gender Studies, Transgender Migrations: The Bodies, Borders, and Politics of Transition (ed. Trystan Cotton, Routledge, 2011), and most recently an essay on queer/trans archives in Samuel Steward and the Politics of the Erotic (Ohio University Press, 2017). With Susan Stryker, he co-edited the Transgender Studies Reader 2 (New York: Routledge, 2013) and is also the co-editor of a special issue of TSQ, “Decolonizing the Transgender Imaginary” (1:3-4, 2014). He is on the Editorial Board of TSQ, Environment and Planning, Society and Space, and the Expanding Frontiers series at University of Nebraska Press. His current book project, Mobile Subjects: travel, transnationality and transgender lives, is forthcoming from Duke University Press in November.

The Clinic and Elsewhere speaker series is sponsored by the Gender and Sex Equity Initiative of the Rock Ethics Institute (REI) and is convened by Hilary Malatino, a core faculty member of the REI and Assistant Professor in the Department of Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State.