Conversations about the need for a Queer Disability Studies Network began in the UK early 2020 for several reasons:
- In recognition of a growing numbers of Disability Studies scholars drawing on queer and trans theory (particularly those who are early career and PhD level), but little in the way of formal networking to bring us together. We want to create a space where we can hear and learn from one another.
- In response to growing transphobia in academia, with limited institutional support or recognition of this issue. Whilst there is a particular context and problem with transphobia in the UK, where our conversations began, we wish for the network to respond to and challenge transphobia by developing forms of dialogue and research that is explicitly identified as trans-inclusive within – but also beyond – the UK context.
- We want to more formally acknowledge that transphobia exists and has been institutionalised across academic spaces, including within Disability Studies. There is strength in developing collective responses to such incidents, and we seek to develop a structure through which to make such responses possible.
Creating queer disability studies spaces
We recognise that there are scholars (particularly those who are early career and PhD level) who are currently working at the intersections of queer/trans and disability/crip studies, but lack a space or network for sharing ideas and getting feedback, collaborating, and/or providing support.
Our aim, in the short term, is to set up an online hub through which we can bring together those who are doing disability and trans/queer research. We would hope that the network would allow members to share their research and ideas, and create networking opportunities, and from this build collaborations for future research.
We recognise that the idea for this network developed within a particular context, and that we are in no way representative of the different ways in which people’s lives, bodies and work are shaped by queerness and disability. Thinking more long-term, therefore, we want to find ways for this network to collaboratively grow and evolve. This could mean aiming to secure funds to put on an event or series of events, or subgroups forming within it. It may also mean other people joining, or taking over, as administrators of the network – the composition of our group is fluid.
We hope for this endeavour to be a collective one which allows for the building of queer disability studies, and for producing trans-inclusive disability studies theory and knowledge.
Responding to transphobia
We want this network to be about building collective and socially just responses to transphobia, and other forms of marginalisation, in academia and within Disability Studies. Most pressingly at the time-being, the network is explicitly trans-inclusive, and acknowledges and positions itself in opposition to transphobia in academia, including in Disability Studies.
As such, we want to explore ways in which building a trans-inclusive Disability Studies may practically and ethically be done. For example, we would value conversations about who gets a voice within Disability, Queer and Trans Studies and how we work within institutions that can be at odds with our politics and principles. We welcome discussions which try to make sense of emerging transphobic discourse within Disability Studies, and challenge the harm that such discourses pose to trans disabled people. We see potential in collectively thinking through citational practices – how practically to manage, for example, calls to boycott journals that have been linked to organisations deemed to be transphobic, and the different ways in which such a boycott may impact those who experience particular forms of marginalisation, or who are at different career stages. We would like to create a space for building allegiances and solidarities between those (sometimes simultaneously) feared, demonised and construed as vulnerable. We envision this network as a reflective space within which there is a willingness to think about and challenge ourselves within our own work and beyond.
Members of the network further commit to being responsive to ableism, queerphobia and transphobia, as well as intersexphobia, sexism, racism and classism as it occurs within Disability, Queer and Trans Studies.