Trans Discourses

Where do today’s representations of trans people come from? How have gender variant people been represented by historians, physicians, feminists, and critical theorists? How should we interpret different gender variant people prior to and after the advent of terms like “transvestite,” “transsexual,” or “transgender?” What do we make of the various written representations of gender variant people?

Trans* Lounge is excited to present this 3-part summer mini-series that explores TGI/ENBY+ history that provides surveys of discourse on trans bodies, experiences, and psychology by different experts throughout the last few centuries.

These classes will explore trends in how the concept of a “trans-” or gender variant person, has been constructed, often without their input. Historical interpretations will be explored through lecture, opposing viewpoints and discussion.

    These classes will focus on medical literature, including early sexology, psychiatry, and differing ideas on the classification of gender diagnoses from the late-nineteenth century up to the late-1980s. It is important to note that medical and sexological history is an integral part of understanding where the concept of “trans-” came from.
    This second class will be on the historiography of gender variance, with an overview of the different ways historians and activists have interpreted gender variance through the ages. Students will be encouraged to form their own opinions about what historical interpretations suit the preservation of historic memory best, especially in the case of gender variant people.
    This final class will be on radical feminist literature and postmodern critical theory, as well as a look at how trans writers responded to both the former and the latter. These are considered some of the most provocative, thoughtful, even enraging texts depending on which ideological camp someone is from.


Arkaz Vardanyan (he/she) is a genderqueer employed in the Los Angeles Community College District, tutoring students on their writing assignments while studying History and Queer Studies at CSU Northridge. His passion for history intersects with his facilitation experience as he has organized and led workshops for college students. He collaborates on and oversees experimental changes in educational programming within his department. Arkaz strives to bring interactive learning strategies to classrooms and workshops and make diverse populations both aware of their histories and empower them with the tools to use that knowledge.

As a member of the Trans Lounge, Arkaz aspires not only to bring new experiences to others, but also to learn from the people he meets.