Susan Stryker and “Transgender Studies”

In 2010, as part of my research for The Victims’ Revolutiona book about the parlous and ever-proliferating phenomenon of identity studies in universities, I attended a Queer Studies conference at Humboldt University in Berlin. One of the stars of the event was Susan Stryker, a male-to-female transsexual who was born in 1961, raised in Oklahoma, received a Ph.D. in history at Berkeley, and at the time of the Berlin event was a high-profile professor at Indiana University, to which she commuted regularly from her home in San Francisco. At her session in Berlin, the deep-voiced, broad-shouldered, square-jawed Stryker spent the first few minutes serving up a jumble of standard-issue leftist comments about various aspects of postwar America; she then settled down, for a while anyway, on a single topic: the Tea Party, which she described as fascist and racist, but nonetheless saw as promising because it at least represented a “non-elite” reaction to America’s “neo-liberal” capitalist establishment.