Trans ‘Theirstory’ and Non-binary Thinking

A workshop and reading group with researcher, artist and composer Clair le Couteur
From minor beginnings in the left-wing liberal communities of San Francisco and New York in the late 1980s, transgender has become a globally-recognised term, culminating in a so-called “trans tipping point” of media recognition in 2015.
This workshop and reading group will examine some key themes and texts of the ‘trans’ phenomenon, investigating the issues that trans raises for the fundamental philosophical structures we use to understand ourselves, our bodies, and our cultures.
We will read widely together, exploring in detail some of the founding essays of the trans movement from the 80s and 90s, a range of cultural media artefacts and current online culture wars. We will also discuss the UK’s first major exhibition of trans artefacts – E. J. Scott’s Museum of Transology – which will soon re- open in Brighton.
The focus of the workshop will be on developing situated, embodied methods of ‘reading trans’, attempting to move seamlessly between personal and political, detail and context, practice and theory. Using the practices we develop together, we will open up other trans-questions: trans- disciplinarity, trans-culturalism, trans-lation, trans-formation etc.
The workshop will be led by Clair Le Couteur, a non-binary research artist and singer currently completing a PhD at the Royal College of Art. All key texts for the session will be provided as PDF documents beforehand, along with supporting material. Participants are asked to please print, highlight and annotate the texts beforehand as part of their preparation. Our manuscripts will form a key part of the outcome.
But, life being life, not everyone will be able to do this. We will read aloud together on the day, so if you can’t prepare for the workshop, or you have trouble with reading, no problem: everyone is welcome to attend, to listen, and to join the discussion. Likewise, no prior knowledge of gender theory is necessary; all ideas will be discussed from first principles.
Clair Le Couteur is a non-binary researcher, artist and composer writing up their PhD – ‘Mislabelling and the Fictive Museum’ – at the Royal College of Art in London. Clair makes transmedia assemblages, entangling fact and fiction, research and creation, tradition and contemporaneity. Recent projects include: Put You Through (2015), an installation for Pride in London with the Switchboard archive; writing on gender and species in folktales for Gender Forum #55; Transportation Blues (2016), live-looped folksong at the Horse Hospital; Roots Between the Tides (2016), a network of 188 images at Warrington Museum; and Reading Trans (2017), a workshop series for Goldsmiths fine art MA.