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Episode 8 Understanding Transgender Health & Identity with Brett Nava-Coulter

Anthropologist on the Street
Anthropologist on the Street
Episode 8 Understanding Transgender Health & Identity with Brett Nava-Coulter

Brett Nava-Coulter (photo courtesy of Mr. Nava-Coulter)

Transgender politics have been everywhere lately, from North Carolina bathrooms to Presidential tweets, yet many are still confused about what exactly it means to be transgender. It’s not surprising there is confusion, as the category of transgender is both diverse and complicated. To help unpack these issues and politics, Brett Nava-Coulter joins the podcast to discuss his research with transgender youth. Mr. Nava-Coulter is a doctoral candidate at Northeastern University in sociology, researching LGBTQ community centers as well as hospitals that reach out to transgender youth and adults. In addition, he is an active member of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, where he helps identify issues and needs specific to the transgender community.Western cultures tend to think in terms of binaries, and male-female is a fairly fundamental one. But not all cultures and times have been so rigid. Although the word transgender is recent, the experience of people falling between categories of male and female extends back thousands of years, and across thousands of miles. Third and fourth genders have long existed for folks whose social gender doesn’t line up neatly with their biological sex, and there has always been a small but present group of intersexed folks whose physical bodies combine, or fall between, male and female.

Photo by Ted Eytan, 2017.07.26 Protest Trans Military Ban, White House, Washington DC USA 7683, https://www.flickr.com/photos/taedc/36056853011

Yet you don’t have to be considered transgender or intersex to fall between categories. As Mr. Nava-Coulter discuss, to understand the social category of transgender, you have to understand and differentiate gender, sex, sexuality, identity, behavior, biology, and performance. Once you do that, the idea that we all fit into two neat boxes of male or female becomes increasingly problematic.

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For more information on Mr. Nava-Coulter:

Mr. Nava-Coulter’s academic profile: https://www.northeastern.edu/cssh/socant/people/our-graduate-students/

More information on the material discussed in this episode:

Image from Trans Student Educational Resources (http://www.transstudent.org/gender)

“The Third Gender: Hijras in India”: http://sc2218.wikifoundry.com/page/The+Third+Gender%3A+Hijras+In+India

Dr. Sabra L. Katz-Wise, lead researcher on transgender youth health project at Boston Children’s Hospital: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/sogie/sabra-l-katz-wise-phd/

“Transactional pathways of Gender Identity Development in Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Youth and Caregiver Perspectives from the Trans Youth Family Study” by Sabra L. Katz-Wise, Brett Nava-Coulter, et al: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15532739.2017.1304312?af=R&journalCode=wijt20

News article on a new app developed to connect LGBTQ patients with safe and inclusive health care workers: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/med-students-create-app-connect-lgbtq-patients-inclusive-doctors-n793861

David Halperin’s book How to Be Gay: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674283992&content=reviews

Pod Save America “This is like a car crash” – episode discussing President Trump’s tweet about a possible ban on transgender military service members (warning – explicit): https://art19.com/shows/pod-save-america/episodes/5802b714-7b2b-4b24-a6f2-37e85c940bb5

“Sorry, grammar nerds. The singular ‘they’ has been declared Word of the Year”: http://wapo.st/1UCVv8X?tid=ss_tw-bottom&utm_term=.b800f1e8f118

Dr. Shannon Weber’s work on notions of queer identity at women’s colleges: http://www.shannonweberphd.com/research.html

“5 Homophobic Myths Destroyed by Anthropology”: http://www.relevanth.com/5-homophobic-myths-destroyed-by-anthropology/

Organizations and other resources:

Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth: http://www.mass.gov/cgly/

Youth on Fire organization that helps unaccompanied and homeless LGBT youth: http://www.harvardsquare.com/youth-fire

National Center for Transgender Equality

Transgender American Veterans Association

Camp Aranu’tiq for transgender youth: http://www.camparanutiq.org/

Fenway Transgender Health Clinic: http://fenwayhealth.org/care/medical/transgender-health/

The Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at the University of California, San Francisco: http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/

The Williams Institute is a think tank at UCLA Law that produces high-quality research with real-world relevance and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/

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