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Upcoming online seminar: Disabled young people’s experiences of Personal Support: Intimacies, identities and embodiments in Personal Assistance Relationships

Ned Coleman-Fountain, University of Northumbria
Harvey Humphrey, University of Strathclyde
Alex Toft, Nottingham Centre for Children 
15:30 – 17:00
25th May 2022
Online
To book your place: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/327938732577
This presentation will explore some themes from an ongoing project looking at young disabled adults’ experiences of getting support from Personal Assistants (PAs). PAs are social care workers employed directly by disabled people. They provide important support that enable disabled people to live independent lives. This project has asked young people with a range of different genders and sexualities about their experiences of choosing and working with PAs. This presentation will explore how gender and sexuality, understood in relation to identities and embodiments, matter for the decisions young LGBT people make to ensure they get the right support.

Ned Coleman-Fountain (he/him) Senior lecturer in Sociology at the University of Northumbria, where he is currently EDI lead in the Department of Social Sciences. His current research focuses on the intersections of disability, gender, and sexuality in the contexts of adult social care

Alex Toft Research Fellow in the Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families at Nottingham Trent University. His research focuses upon sexuality, gender, disability, spirituality and identity. He currently works with a Young Disabled LGBT+ Researchers Group exploring the lived experiences of young people who are autistic and LGBT+.

Harvey Humphrey
(they/them/their)
eally likes poetry
creative flair
A poststructuralist sociologist
they really like language, discourse and bodies
they’re just a bit interdisciplinary
and into creative methodologies
On an ESRC postdoc fellowshipat the University of Strathclyde
making a play out of scholarship
writing poems on the side

Our reasons for withdrawing from the FGEN conference

On 14th March we emailed the ‘Living Gender in Diverse Times: Feminist Gender Equality Network Conference’ organisers to ask about their intentions for the conference, given that the first day lands on a strike day for 29 universities. They signalled their intention to go ahead due to it being an activist conference. Below is our response and our reason for withdrawal.

Dear all,

Thank you for the information provided here about remote participation. We have read and discussed your replies regarding the strike action as a group but we will not be attending the ‘Living Gender in Diverse Times: Feminist Gender Equality Network Conference’, and would like to withdraw our paper ‘The Queer Disability Studies Network Roundtable’. 

Whilst we appreciate that there is an activist element to the conference – as there is to our own work – we would nevertheless be attending as academics, and discussing an academic-activist network, and to do so would be crossing picket lines, including at some of our own institutions.

We disagree that the conference is wholly activist – academics are listed first as FGEN network members on the conference eventbrite, and international keynote speakers are billed as being from ‘trans, gender and sexuality studies’. Many of us were planning to share our research, and learn from others’ research. It has also been advertised as being attached to the ESRC funded ‘Living Gender in Diverse Times’ project, including in the event title, blurb, and notes academic affiliations, including to the University of Sheffield for whom the Friday is a strike day. 

Your decision to go ahead on the striking Friday means that we do not feel comfortable attending on either day of the conference, despite the Saturday not being an official striking day. 

Academic-activist work during times of strike action remain issues which we as activist-academics continue to think through. We will be sad to not attend. The Queer Disabiltiy Studies Network was set up in a large part because we felt the need for trans inclusive spaces within Disability Studies and academia more broadly – the latter is something which FGEN is without a doubt trying to create. We also know from experience the time, effort (and stress) it takes to organise a conference, and the disappointment in canceling events which have taken so much effort. However, whilst we think such spaces are important, we have to connect our work in creating such spaces to material conditions. Pension cuts, pay gaps and job insecurity are issues that affect all of us, particularly disabled people who face a 9% pay gap and for whom the cost of living can often be higher. Those of us who work in areas cutting across social justice themes often see the ways that those issues disproportionately affect the most marginalised in our academic communities and more broadly reflects the unjust ways our society privileges some people over others. We also recognise the benefit of our efforts in creating such networks and spaces to the academy (and universities as institutions) more broadly, and how they can be instrumentalised by management. We therefore strongly feel that going ahead with the conference undermines the demands of the strikes.

We understand that not everyone will share our position but we hope you can understand where we as a collective are coming from in withdrawing from the conference. We hope that those involved will continue to observe the digital picket line in solidarity with striking colleagues and avoid posting about the event on social media.

All the best,

 Queer Disability Studies Network

 

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!