Recruitment advert – PAs, genders and sexualities study

Artwork by Jem Clancy

The following project might be of interest to the QDS Network. The project is in its fieldwork stage and is currently looking to speak to young disabled adults who manage their own personal support. Participants should be aged 18-30, live in England, and have some experience of managing a personal assistant. All participants will receive a £20 gift voucher for taking part.

The Support, Genders, and Sexualities research project will document and analyse the experiences of young disabled adults (aged 18-30) who employ Personal Assistants to help with their care and support needs. The study wants to know how young disabled people with different genders and sexualities make decisions about what works for them.

There are multiple ways to take part, including being interviewed about your experiences, or completing a journal which you can fill in at home.

If you’d like to take part you must be:

  • aged between 18 and 30,
  • live in England,
  • and have about 6 months experience of managing your support arrangements.

You do not have to have a PA right now. It doesn’t matter what your gender or sexuality is.

Find out more in this recruitment video for the study. Findings will be used to develop resources for use by PAs, young disabled adults, and social care organisations.

For more information please contact Ned Coleman-Fountain by email edmund.coleman-fountain@northumbria.ac.uk, text message or Whatsapp on 07838664356, or visit https://supportingsexualitiesstudy.wordpress.com/

The study is funded by the National Institute of Health Research School for Social Care Research.

The QDS Blog is open!

Thank you so much to everyone who engaged with the launch of the Queer Disability Studies Network. While the event may be ‘over’ (in a chrononormative sense – all posts will remain up and we welcome any further thoughts and reflections), the QDS blog will continue to be run as a space for new contributions.

Feel free to reach out with any suggestions for entries, or send any submissions to our email: queerdisability@gmail.com. We are happy to accept blogs in a written format, or pieces that make use of other mediums such as film, audio or illustration. You can use the blog to tell the wider network about your research, activism, or creative practice, or use it as a space to share your reflections on anything connected to trans, queer, and disability studies.

We are also happy to share events that align with the aims of the QDS Network. Just get in touch with more information and a line or two about how your event connects with the aims of the network.

We continue to think about what’s next for QDS and welcome your suggestions for events and possible collaborations at the same email.

Look out for future work and events. Or something. Snails.

QDS Snail logo, shows a purple snail against a white background

Thank you!

Tell us what you think about the QDS Launch by filling in this short feedback form.

This blog marks the end of the Queer Disability Studies launch event! Thank you for taking part, either by contributing your work or reading, watching, listening, and sharing. You can still find all the resources and materials on the event page and read our event blogs. Please keep reading, sharing, and using them in your teaching or within your communities. You can also follow the discussion as it happened over on twitter by browsing the @QueerDisability feed or checking out #QueerDisabilityLaunch

We, the current QDS administrators and organisers of this event, have been overwhelmed by the support for the event. We saw people returning each week to read, share, and reflect on the different themes, and have read many positive comments on contributions.

Our aim was to begin to build an inclusive network for people whose research, activism, creativity, and critical work speak to the intersections of trans, queer, and disability studies, and which offers a site of resistance to ableism and the normalisation of transphobic discourses and practices (including in academic spaces). We feel we made some small steps towards doing that. The event brought together people from different countries, students alongside more established academics, and many people for whom queer, trans and disability experience is not just something to be theorised but to be lived and embodied. It was a space for people to engage in their own time and way. We also saw a rich variety in the contributions, from audio-recorded performance lectures, zines, and films, to original pieces of art. We also had plenty for people to read!

As our attention moves to what comes next, we are keen for you to stay involved. At the outset we wanted this network to be built by people who agree with the network’s aims, and who feel they have something to contribute to understanding the intersections of trans, queer and disability studies. For this reason we would love you to help us think about what comes next, and to tell us how you might want to be involved in shaping the future direction of the network. 

To do this, we have set up this feedback form as a starting point for sharing your responses to what we have done so far, and what else you would like to see from the network.

We can’t wait to start thinking about how to grow this network.

Charlotte, Rhi, Ned and Jen

QDS Snail logo, shows a purple snail against a white background

(De)pathologisation at the borders of trans and disability

Go to the launch event page here to see the themes and contributions.

Week 4 of Questions in Queer Disability Studies

The final week’s theme of the #QueerDisabilityLaunch explores (de)pathologisation at the borders of trans and disability. In some ways, this is where the network began. In the midst of increasing transphobia within academia (including disability studies) we wanted to build a space which is explicitly trans inclusive. Without such a space, it felt difficult to have solidarity-building, productive and meaningful conversations about the entanglements of trans and disability. The three contributors this week would perhaps not always be in agreement; nevertheless, they all offer nuanced and thoughtful accounts of the tensions, overlaps and possibilities of trans and disability; never neglecting the materiality of trans disabled lives. 

In ‘Gender Pandemic’, Max Thornton notes that one of the major currents in 21st-century transphobic rhetoric describes transness as a plague, an epidemic, or a contagion. Thornton’s piece explores some of the implications of transphobia’s “epidemiological turn” from a queer disability perspective. He highlights that the medicalisation and pathologisation of transness has meant that some trans people attempt to destigmatise by drawing lines between trans and disability/madness. Thornton argues, however, that instead of disavowing disability, trans people should embrace the coalitional and transformational possibilities of our political struggles. 

In ‘The Ramblings of a Chronically Ill Mad Trans Femme’, Madeline Stump too explores the ways in which trans, disabled, and indeed fat, body-minds have been medicalised and pathologised. Importantly, Stump draws attention to the absence of disabled trans women and femmes from the fields of feminist, trans, and disability studies. She argues that the questions should not be ‘is trans, disability?’, naming such a question as boring and unhelpful. Instead, Stump recognises that many trans women and femmes are some kind of mad/disabled/sick/neurodivergent/chronically ill/crip. ‘Our body-minds don’t quite fit into “normal” in innumerable ways.’ Through a practice of radical vulnerability, Stump offers careful conversations about the intersections of ableism, misogyny, and cissexism through her own experiences as a Mad and chronically ill trans woman.

Finally, in ‘Xenogenders, Neopronouns, and the transMad Toolbox’, [Sarah] / Cavar explores how xenoidentities, genders and pronouns honor queer, Mad, and alien(ated) modes of identification. Alongside an audio and written prose piece, Cavar offers us a toolbox of questions to use to interrogate our own feelings about and relationships to gender, pronouns and xenoidentities. They argue that xenoidentities pose exciting possibilities for trans disabled people by exploring the ways that a “transMad” xeno-analytic forwards a project of anarchic trans joy and liberation.

Share your thoughts on this week’s theme and contributions using the hashtag #QueerDisabilityLaunch

View the submissions here

Gender Pandemic by Max Thornton

The Ramblings of a Chronically Ill Mad Trans Femme by Madeline Stump

Xenogenders, Neopronouns, and the transMad Toolbox by [Sarah] / Cavar

Queer-Crip Time

Go to the launch event page here to see the themes and contributions.

Week 3 of Questions in Queer Disability Studies

This week’s theme on ‘Queer-Crip Time’ explores the tensions between different temporal and spatial forms, and the constraints and pressures often created by the ableist sanctions of clock time. The contributors consider how their own perceptions of time involve non-normative approaches to work, rest, sex, performance, and creativity – sometimes interrupted, overwhelmed, or unstable – but nevertheless often imaginative, inspired, gratified. Whilst this week’s theme places a particular focus on time, queer/crip temporality has been a central thread to many of the contributions presented in our launch month, and therefore offers the potential for drawing connections between and across themes and weeks (moving beyond calendar time!).

In Sarah Hopfinger’s audio performance lecture, she discusses her recent audio piece, ‘Pain and I’, combining beautifully poetic reflections with her own commentary, to explore the complexities of living with chronic pain and consider performance making as crip practice. Hopfinger invites her audience to take command over their own space and time as they engage with her contribution to our event, just as she describes doing in her own creative practice, which is structured in short episodes in response to her pain. Hopfinger explores this fractured way of working as complex; at once both insightful and unwelcome. Adam Hubrig’s blog post is also interested in the potential of chronicity, here as a process to heal from trauma, and to reclaim and revel in queer-crip sexual agency. Through chronicity, Hubrig proposes that bodies can be understood as unstable and in flux, leading us to explore new and alternative ways of negotiating sexual intimacy, erotic practices, and desire, and move us away from harmful cis/het-normative and non-disabled expectations.

Beck Tadman’s short film provides a commentary on navigating the intersecting realities of queer/crip time, space, thought, and embodiment. The film – described by Tadman as ‘an experiment’ – is an incredible composition of video extracts, image, music, and soundscapes, which give a sense of the scale, persistence, and intensity of our daily temporal and spatial surroundings. Beyond time, Tadman problematises a range of sensations, observations, and perceptions – exploring how normative evaluative models and visual judgements shape ways of queer-crip being. Towards the end of her lecture, Hopfinger’s vital reflections on the importance of queer-crip spaces during the ongoing pandemic feel especially pertinent, both in respect to our drive to hold this launch event despite the circumstances – to bring us together, asynchronously – but also for building the network in the future, with all the questions and possibilities, but also the frustrations and devastations, we have experienced since early 2020.

Share your thoughts on this week’s theme and contributions using the hashtag #QueerDisabilityLaunch

View the submissions here

Chronic Pain and Crip Performance Practice by Sarah Hopfinger

Umm, Chronicity is Hot, Actually by Adam Hubrig

BODY : SPACE : TIME : MIND : by Beck Tadman

Representation and Absences


by Rhi Harvey Humphrey @rhihumphrey

Go to the launch event page here to see the themes and contributions.

Week 2 of Questions in Queer Disability Studies

The contributions in this week’s theme offer creative critiques of representation, or lack of, across non-binary and deaf experiences.

Representations and Absences

Society’s unwelcome gaze
In harsh uncomfortable light
In C.P’s paper wounds ablaze
Visibility is a trap
In Being (in)visible in Light and Dark

Inching forwards, inching backwards,
Cutting sideways, panning across,
Show possibilities between
Space in absences Plum shows us
In Non-binary Heads

Facing back powerful writing
Scored out, erased words leave traces
On hands and faces reflecting
In Joseph’s critique of TV
In Explosives Sentences #1

Representations and Absences

Ahmed taught us citing is finding paths
That citations can be feminist bricks
But I have lost my way in discourse vast
There’s no home in trans/ feminist conflicts

As I forge a path in new disciplines
I must learn a who’s who of not for you
Discover citational might have beens
Reluctant journal submissions withdrew

How now can we build trans coalitions
If our feminist foundations crumble?
Where are queer trans disabled positions?
Feminist mortar infested with fungal

How do we know which journal welcomes us?
And which would rather we sheltered elsewhere?
Where is our space to build our shared focus?
With less bricks, with less mortar, what’s out there?

Share your thoughts on this week’s theme and contributions using the hashtag #QueerDisabilityLaunch

View the submissions here

Being (in)visible in Light and Dark by C. P.

Non-binary Heads by Winter Plum

Explosives Sentences #1 by Mélanie Joseph

Queer-crip pedagogies and academic resistance

Go to the launch event page here to see the themes and contributions.

Week 1 of Questions in Queer Disability Studies

The contributions included in the ‘Queer-Crip Pedagogies and Academic Resistance’ theme ask questions about queer disability studies (QDS): who it is for, whose voices and work get recognised within it, how QDS relates to other fields of critical enquiry, what knowledge it produces, and how and for who that knowledge is made accessible? You will find analyses of academic institutions, who makes it in these spaces and who is ‘outside’ of them, and how QDS can be built as a transformative space by and for those whose lives are shaped by trans, queer, disability and neurodivergent experience. You will get insight into the critical, creative work of trans, queer and disabled scholars.

One issue we are invited to consider is how QDS can make a difference to researchers working in queer, trans and disability studies but who may struggle to find space, support and recognition for their academic labour. Many contributors reach the conclusion that QDS cannot be just another academic field, and cannot sit comfortably in the neoliberal university. Its potential to make change can be undermined by entanglements with university structures and academic norms and the inequalities these produce. Atkinson remind us that current academic conventions are set in the context of neoliberal norms around productivity. Pressures to ‘perform’ can marginalise those who are producing the most critical knowledge from situations of difference and serve to depoliticise QDS. Stamp argues for a rejection of academic temporalities, and work to create accessible academic spaces and open networks.

To resist ableist conventions of time and metrics for quantifying ‘success’, which deepen the exclusion of disabled academics, Pereira advocates for more collective, collaborative, and interdependent forms of knowledge production, which accommodate a greater diversity of embodiments and enable more academics to take their time to make a difference. This emphasis on collaborative, collective forms of knowledge production and communication are picked up in Super’s excellent discussion of the importance of undergraduate programmes for creating spaces of imagination. Super encourages a curriculum that brings the stories of activists into the university, with the aim of fostering critical dialogue about how a range of experiences of structural oppression intersect. Finally, the centrality of the body to academic work is brought home beautifully by Cooper who, through zine making, reflects on spaces of academic knowledge production which are very distant from the place we call the University.

Share your thoughts on this week’s theme and contributions using the hashtag #QueerDisabilityLaunch

View the submissions here

Employment, Ableism and Uber-performance by Ana Bê Pereira

A genealogy of bedrooms by Lilith Cooper

Questions on routes into Queer Disability Studies by Vickery Stamp

Collaboration: the importance of activism for undergraduate pedagogy in queer/trans/crip studies by N. Super

A few thoughts on QDS’s future by Toby Atkinson

One week to go until the Questions in Queer Disability Studies launch event!

Earlier in the year, we published a call for contributors to respond to some questions we asked about the future of queer disability studies, and we received lots of really exciting responses. In order to launch the Queer Disability Studies Network, on each Monday of October we will be sharing short written pieces, audio recordings, films, illustrations, and zines, according to theme:

Queer-crip pedagogies and academic resistance (Monday 4th October)

Representation and absence (Monday 11th October)

Queer-crip time (Monday 18th October)

(De-)pathologisation at the borders of trans and disability (Monday 25th October)

All the brilliant contributions will be published on the launch event page, but you can also follow our QDS Twitter handle and subscribe to the blog for regular updates.

Please share widely with your networks!

Welcome to The Queer Disability Studies Network!

Our idea for setting up a Queer Disability Studies network arose from discussions in the UK about how Disability Studies should respond to transphobia. Conversations about transphobia echoed concerns felt by a wider international community of academics, activists and practitioners, who understood the need for Disability Studies to be explicitly trans-inclusive. For us, the field’s commitment to inclusion, respect, and liberation makes trans-inclusion uncontroversial. Overlapping concerns (e.g. with prejudice, bodily difference and determination, and medical gatekeeping and domination) also suggests that Disability and Trans Studies have a lot to contribute to one another. Antagonistic arguments that portray transgender bodies and communities as ‘dangerous’ can undermine the work that needs to be done across these areas. Ableism and transphobia have converged explicitly when moral panics around trans youth frame neurodivergent young people in particular as ‘vulnerable’ to the ‘brainwashing’ of trans adults.

Our concern is more than academic, however, and our aim for this network is for it to pay more than lip service to queer theory. We want a space for people whose experiences, research, or activism cut across categories of trans, queer, and disability issues to come together and share their ideas. We especially want to create a space for people who work in these areas but whose position in or outside of academia is more precarious, and who may feel less at home in established Disability Studies spaces. We also want a space that brings together people from across the international community.

This network has three aims. It hopes to: 

  1. Provide a space for collaboration and feedback between queer disability studies academics and activists, 
  2. Allow for the generation of trans/queer affirmative ideas that can inform disability studies theory and practice, and 
  3. Support opposition to trans exclusionary ideas, within our institutions and more widely.

We created this network because we felt a need for it. However, we are aware that we, as the current network administrators (Charlotte, Jen, Rhi and Ned) are in no way representative of the different ways in which people’s lives, bodies and work are shaped by queerness and disability. We therefore hope for the network to be a dynamic one, and for others to get involved in running activities, or taking it in new and exciting directions. 

To kick off the network’s activities, and to get others involved in helping shape it, including its aims and scope, we have decided to host an online launch event in October: ‘Questions in Queer Disability Studies’. We want to hear from others about the work they are doing, and/or what they think queer disability studies is or should be. Below you will find our call for contributions to the network blog launch. We are looking for blog posts, videos and other creative contributions to help make the network a reality, and to start building a space for queer disabled solidarity (in the UK and beyond)

You will find information about the call below. You can also follow this page to get updates when we post them, or get in touch if you have any questions.

Questions in Queer Disability Studies

To launch the Queer Disability Studies (QDS) Network, we are very pleased to announce a month-long online event throughout October 2021. We hope this launch month will be a way for us all to collectively shape the work of the network, to learn more about each other and the exciting work already being done in this field globally, and to re-imagine the direction and purpose of QDS as an interdisciplinary field and community.

Those interested in taking part in Questions in Queer Disability Studies may want to consider or respond to the following questions:

  1. How would you want Queer Disability Studies (QDS) to look as field, and what would you like it to do? What new and creative spaces do we need to build within QDS for dialogue, support, and community, as well as for resistance and critique? How does this fit with the work that you’re doing now?
  2. Does existing literature across Queer, Trans, and Disability Studies adequately respond to the intersections, interchange, and potential alliances between these areas (and communities), and how might this work be developed in the future?
  3. Who is acknowledged and listened to, who gets spoken for or over, and whose language is protected and promoted in Queer, Trans and Disability Studies? And how can we work towards correcting or remodelling this?
  4. What new or transformative ways of re-thinking academic conventions (such as public speaking, conference organisation, and journal publications) are needed to make our ways of working, organising, or thinking more accessible and equitable? 
  5. Does QDS help us to think in different – perhaps more radical or disruptive – ways about accessibility? Has the pandemic had any impact on our approaches to this?
  6. Why is accessibility important to working within Queer, Trans and Disability Studies, and are there any access needs that we need to be especially attentive to, which address the intersections of the lives of queer, trans and disabled people?
  7. Does QDS provide us with any tools or strategies to think differently about managing ableism, transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, and other intersecting forms of oppression such as intersexphobia, racism, sexism, fatphobia or class inequality, particularly in academic contexts? How might our work in QDS help us to respond to current – often individualising – approaches taken by academic institutions, such as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives, unconscious bias training and equality protocols?
  8. Why is it important to make connections between activism, practice, and academia within QDS? How can we do this in ways which are collaborative, non-exploitative, productive, and meaningful?
  9. Why are citational practices important, and how might we manage the ethics of citing authors and/or journals with views or politics that are diametrically opposed to our own?
  10. What have we overlooked in the questions that we’ve asked above? We write these questions from our positions as social scientists in the UK – what difference does positionality, geography and/or disciplinary context make to the requirements from such a network? How might the questions and the network be approached or imagined differently?

We welcome contributions in a range of formats, including longer written contributions between 800-1500 words in total, and videos between 3-5 minutes in length, as well as other creative formats such as poetry, short stories, or artistic visions. We’re open to different ideas and experimental formats. Please consider ways of making your final contributions accessible to a wide audience (e.g. captioning videos and images, providing a script of audio, audio-recording written text). If you have questions or concerns about content, format, accessibility or anything else, you are welcome to get in touch for a conversation, prior to submission.

Contributions will be shared on our blog post at intervals throughout the month of October. The event itself and all contributions we share will be asynchronous (i.e. none of us will need to be online at the same time to participate), so you can engage with the work at your own pace and at a time that suits you. However, the blog post comments sections will be open for responses and discussion (after admin approval), and we will be encouraging the use of Twitter and a private platform for contributors only. 

We will facilitate anonymous contributions if this is your preference. We will be in touch with information about safety before the event, and we welcome questions or comments about this by email if you have any concerns. Please feel free to contact any of the current network administers using the contact details provided here.

Pitch your idea

To contribute to our launch event, please send an informal proposal of up to 200 words, using our submission form by 24th May 2021. Please also provide a short bio (up to 150 words). We are also asking for some brief information about how you intend to make your contribution accessible. We’ll get back to you with feedback in July before asking you to submit your final contribution.

We have ten £50 QDS Network Awards to give to successful contributors who currently receive a low or no income/stipend, are unemployed, or are in precarious employment. This is to recognise the value of contributions from early-career researchers, PhD students, activists and others on low/no income. If we receive more than ten applications for these awards, original and insightful proposals which best fit the aims of the event will be prioritised. 

Key dates
Proposal deadline – 24th May 2021
Notification emails – 1st July 2021
Final submission of contributions – 1st September 2021
Questions in Queer Disability Studies Month – Throughout October 2021

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