Image: Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (2017). Cover image: Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel, Happy Birthday, Marsha!, 2018 (still). Video, sound, color. © Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel. Courtesy the artists
Celebrate the launch of Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (edited by Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton) with a special panel discussion led by the editors and featuring a selection of the book’s contributors. Panelists include Che Gossett, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Juliana Huxtable, and Toshio Meronek.
The increasing representation of trans identity throughout art and popular culture in recent years has been nothing if not paradoxical. Trans visibility is touted as a sign of a liberal society, but it has coincided with a political moment marked both by heightened violence against trans people (especially trans women of color) and by the suppression of trans rights under civil law. Trap Door grapples with these contradictions.
The essays, conversations, and dossiers gathered in this volume delve into themes as wide-ranging yet interconnected as beauty, performativity, activism, and police brutality. Collectively, they attest to how trans people are frequently offered “doors”—entrances to visibility and recognition—that are actually “traps,” accommodating trans bodies and communities only insofar as they cooperate with dominant norms. The volume speculates about a third term, perhaps uniquely suited for our time: the trapdoor, neither entrance nor exit, but a secret passageway leading elsewhere. Trap Door begins a conversation that extends through and beyond trans culture, showing how these issues have relevance for anyone invested in the ethics of visual culture.
Panelists will engage with the critical inquiries collected in this publication, coming together to reflect on the fraught politics of visibility in our cultural climate.
Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility, co-published by the New Museum and MIT Press, is the most recent volume in the New Museum’s newly relaunched publication series, Critical Anthologies in Art and Culture.