Short-Circuited Trans Care, t4t, and Trans Scenes

Transgender Studies Quarterly 9 (1):9-27 (2022)
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This essay discusses short-circuited trans care by focusing on failures of t4t as an ethos both interpersonally and within particular trans scenes. The author begins by recounting an experience working at a bar/restaurant that appealed to its identity as a caring trans community space as part of its exploitation of trans workers. This dynamic inspires the main argument, that t4t can become an ethos of scenes and institutions beyond the interpersonal while short-circuiting practices of trans care. Short-circuited trans care is then traced to t4t by drawing from Hil Malatino's work on trans care and t4t, Kai Cheng Thom's work on community dynamics, and trans literature to argue that practices of t4t often include abuse, expulsion, and assumptive care. This short-circuited trans care is linked to trans scenes by discussing the ethos of t4t in the history of Topside Press and trans cultural production. The author does not condemn t4t and to this effect offers a critique of tethering trans cultural production to prestige instead of care. Rather, the goal of this essay is to openly discuss aspects of t4t and trans care that are often obscured through the projection of a highly questionable “we” or universalized “trans community.”

Author's Profile

Amy Marvin
Lafayette College


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