Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility
Book Launch and Conversation
This special panel discussion celebrated the launch of Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility(edited by Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton), was led by the editors and featured a selection of the book’s contributors. Panelists included 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 engaged 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 part of the New Museum’s publication series, Critical Anthologies in Art and Culture.