Trans* Studies in Higher Education Syllabus

Syllabus Origins

Lately, I have become conscious of just how often I and other trans* people are asked by cisgender people some iteration of the following question: “how can I do better/learn more about trans* issues in higher education?”  This question, and the foundational assumptions at its core, bother me for two interrelated reasons, namely that:

  1. trans* people must continue to do unpaid labor to define and explain our existence, needs, and importance to a cisgender audience that continues to eschew their own responsibility for active learning and engagement; and
  2. trans* people/scholars have not already been answering this question through our research and (non-)scholarly contributions.  

Put another way, cisgender people continuing to ask me and other trans* people this question is, at its best, a manifestation of cisgender privilege.  At worst, it makes clear the complete sense of disinterest cisgender people have in using the research, resources, and literature trans* people and our accomplices have already given our lives to producing.  What’s more, this lack of engagement and lack of investment is often couched in the language of “wanting to do better,” and having an “ongoing investment in equity and diversity.”  The non-performative nature of these statements is profound, particularly when it comes from people, organizations, and institutions that have only begun to think about trans* people when forced to do so through resistance, draconian laws, and/or other measures.  

Because I and other trans* people are tired of answering this question, I have generated the Trans* Studies in Higher Education Syllabus.  Whilst I understand the potential irony of doing so (this syllabus could very well be seen as a comprehensive answer to a decidedly problematic and oppressive question), I have begun this syllabus as an act of resistance for and alongside my trans* kin and our accomplices.  I also sincerely hope people will use the syllabus, and this will reduce the amount of cisgender people who feel the need to ask what they can do to learn about trans* populations, as if: (1) we haven’t always already been in your midst; (2) empirical, affirmative-based research has not existed for quite some time; and (3) cisgender people should take it upon themselves to answer their own question rather than requiring trans* people to do the (additional unpaid) labor for them.  

How To Use This Syllabus

Similar to social justice syllabi that predate this one, the Trans* Studies in Higher Education Syllabus is broken up into a series of weekly reading lists.  Each week is framed by a central theme around which the readings revolve.  While the syllabus could be followed as a guided reading list, people could also move around the syllabus depending on need and specific area(s) of interest.  The syllabus should be understood as an always already impartial list of readings.  The field of trans* studies in higher education is dynamic, and is undergoing seismic changes as I type.  Thus, this syllabus will shift and change over time, as it should.  

Contributing to the Syllabus

Should you want to contribute to the syllabus, you can do so by contacting Dr. Z Nicolazzo directly with your addition.  You can send her a direct message on Twitter (@trans_killjoy) or email her ( 

Should any cisgender person want to honor the labor and effort it takes to create and maintain this syllabus, you can contribute financially to trans* people in several ways, including:

  1. Making a one-time or ongoing donation to community-based trans* organizations;
  2. Contributing to causes and initiatives tagged with the #TransCrowdFund hashtag; and
  3. Ensuring that trans* people, particularly trans* women of color, are brought to your campus/organization/association and compensated fairly for their intellectual contributions.  

You can also volunteer your time to work alongside trans*-centered and led organizations.  Should you want help identifying organizations to contribute to financially and/or with your time, please reference Week 14 of the Weekly Readings section of this syllabus.  If you would like help identifying other organizations in your areas, you can reach out to Dr. Z Nicolazzo via Twitter, email, or hir website ( and ze will work with you individually to identify organizations.  

Weekly Readings

Week 1: Starting with Definitions

Aultman, B. (2014). Cisgender. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(1/2), 61-62.

Garner, T. (2014). Becoming. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(1/2), 30-32.

Hall, K. Q. (2015). Gender. In R. Adams, B. Reiss, & D. Serlin (Eds.), Keywords for disability studies (pp. 89-91). New York: New York University Press.

Jourian, T.J. (2015). Evolving nature of sexual orientation and gender identity. New Directions for Student Services (no. 152), 11-23.

Lennon, E., & Mistler, B. J. (2014). Cisgenderism. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(1/2), 63-64.

Spade, D. (2011). Some very basic tips for making higher education more accessible to trans students and rethinking how we talk about gendered bodies. Radical Teacher, 92, 57-62.

Taylor, E. (2010). Cisgender privilege: On the privileges of performing normative gender. In K. Bornstein & S. B. Bergman (Eds.), Gender outlaws: The next generation (pp. 268-272). Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Tompkins, A. (2014). Asterisk. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(1/2), 26-27.

Also see glossaries/list of definitions in:

Bornstein, K. (2013). My new gender workbook: A step-by-step guide to achieving world peace through gender anarchy and sex positivity (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Google online search engine.

Nicolazzo, Z. (2017). Trans* In College: Transgender Students’ Strategies for Navigating Campus Life and the Institutional Politics of Inclusion. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

The complete issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(1/2).

Teich, N. M. (2012). Transgender 101: A simple guide to a complex issue. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Stryker, S. (2008). Transgender History. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Week 2: Epistemologies of Trans*ness

Bey, M. (2017). The trans*-ness of blackness, the blackness of trans*-ness. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 4(2), 275-295.

Driskill, Q-L. (2016). Asegi stories: Cherokee queer and two-spirit memory. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press.

Nicolazzo, Z. (2017). Imagining a trans* epistemology: What liberation thinks like in postsecondary education. Urban Education. Advanced online publication. DOI: 10.1177/0042085917697203.

Salamon, G. (2010). Assuming a body: Transgender and rhetorics of materiality. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Stryker, S. (1994). My words to Victor Frankenstein above the village of Chamounix: Performing transgender rage. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 1(3), 237-254.

Week 3: Trans* People of Color

BCRW Videos. (2014, March 31). CeCe McDonald, Reina Gossett, and Dean Spade: Police + Prisons Don’t Keep Us Safe - We Keep Each Other Safe [Video file]. Retrieved from 

Gossett, C. (2014). We will not rest in peace: AIDS activism, Black radicalism, and queer and/or trans resistance. In J. Haritaworn, A. Kuntsman, & S. Posocco (Eds.), Queer necropolitics (pp. 31-50). New York, NY: Routledge.

Grace. (2015, May 5). Touch one another - talk by Reina Gossett and Grace Dunham. Retrieved from 

Patton, L. D. (2014). Preserving respectability or blatant disrespect?: A critical discourse analysis of the Morehouse Appropriate Attire Policy and implications for intersectional approaches to examining campus policies. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 27(6), 724-746.

Snorton, C. R. (2017). Black on both sides: A racial history of trans identity. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Stewart, D-L. (2015). Black queer (re)presentation in (white) academe. In F. A. Bonner II, a. f. marbley, F. Tuitt, P. A. Robinson, R. M. Banda, & R. L. Hughes (Eds.), Black faculty in the academy: Narratives for negotiating identity and achieving career success (pp. 89-101). New York, NY: Routledge.

UChicago LGBTQ Student Life. (2014, October 17). LGBTQ Student Life | A Trans Revolution | CeCe McDonald [Video file]. Retrieved from 

Week 4: Trans* Feminism(s)

Ahmed, S. (2016). An affinity of hammers. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 3(1/2), 22-34.

Aizura, A. Z. (2014). Trans feminine value, racialized others and the limits of necropolitics. In J. Haritaworn, A. Kuntsman, & S. Posocco (Eds.), Queer necropolitics (pp. 129-147). New York, NY: Routledge.

Baker, S. S., Cox, K., Cox, M., Dean, D., & Tsou, S-C. (Producers), & Baker, S. S. (Director). (2015). Tangerine [Motion picture]. United States: Duplass Brothers Productions.

Barnard Center for Research on Women. (2014, May 13). Dean Spade: Why do trans women belong at women's colleges? [Video file]. Retrieved from

Enke, F. (Ed.). (2012). Transfeminist perspectives in and beyond transgender and gender studies. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Green, K. M., & Bey, M. (2017). Where Black feminist thought and trans* feminism meet: A conversation. Souls, 19(4), 438-454.

Marine, S. B. (2011). "Our college is changing": Women's college student affairs administrators and transgender students. Journal of Homosexuality, 58(9), 1165-1186.

Nanney, M., & Brunsma, D. L. (2017). Moving beyond cis-terhood: Determining gender through transgender admittance policies at U.S. women’s colleges. Gender & Society, 31(2), 145-170.

Nicolazzo, Z, & Harris, C. (2014). This is what a feminist (space) looks like: (Re)Conceptualizing women’s centers as feminist spaces in higher education. About Campus, 18(6), 2-9.

Serano, J. (2007). Whipping girl: A transsexual woman on sexism and the scapegoating of femininity. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Also see:

The complete issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 3(1/2).

Week 5: Trans* Masculinities

Bailey, V. (2014). Brown bois. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(1/2), 45–47.

Brown Boi Project. (2012). Toward healthy and whole: Rethinking gender and transformation for bois of color. Oakland, CA: Author.

Catalano, D. C. J. (2015). "Trans enough?": The pressures trans men negotiate in higher education. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 2(3), 411-430.

Catalano, D. C. J. (2015). Beyond virtual equality: Liberatory consciousness as a path to achieve trans* inclusion in higher education. Equity & Excellence in Education, 48(3), 418–435.

Jourian, T.J. (2017). Trans*forming college masculinities: Carving out trans*masculine pathways through the threshold of dominance. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30(3), 245-265.

Pusch, R. S. (2005). Objects of curiosity: Transgender college students’ perceptions of the reactions of others. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues in Education, 3(1), 45–61.

Week 6: Non-Binary Trans* Identities

Bilodeau, B. (2005). Beyond the gender binary: A case study of two transgender students at Midwestern research university. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues in Education, 3(1), 29–44.

Goldberg, A. E., & Kuvalanka, K. A. (In press). Navigating identity development and community belonging when “there are only two boxes to check”: An exploratory study of nonbinary trans college students. Journal of LGBT Youth. DOI: 10.1080/19361653.2018.1429979.

Mattilda. (Ed.). (2006). Nobody passes: Rejecting the rules of gender and conformity. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Stewart, D-L. (2017). Trans*versing the DMZ: A non-binary autoethnographic exploration of gender and masculinity. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30(3), 285-304.

Nicolazzo, Z. (2016). “It’s a hard line to walk”: Black non-binary trans* collegians’ perspectives on passing, realness, and trans*-normativity. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 29(9), 1173-1188.

Week 7: Trans*gressing Multiple Identities

Adair, C. (2015). Bathrooms and beyond: Expanding a pedagogy of access in trans/disability studies. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 2(3), 464-468.

Cháves, K. R., Conrad, R., & Nair, Y. (2016). Against equality, against inclusion. In S. Bakshi, S. Jivraj, & S. Posocco (Eds.), Decolonizing sexualities: Transnational perspectives, critical interventions (pp. 215-230). London, UK: Counterpress.

Clare, E. (2017). Brilliant imperfection: Grappling with cure. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Clare, E. (2015). Exile and pride: Disability, queerness, and liberation (2nd Ed.). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Clare, E. (2003). Gawking, gaping, staring. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 9(1-2), 257-261.

Shanks, M., & jackson, k. (2017). Decolonizing gender: A curriculum. Issuu. Retrieved from 

Spade, D. (2015). Normal life: Administrative violence, critical trans politics, and the limits of law (2nd ed.). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Spade, D. (2010). Be professional! Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, 33(1), 71-84.

Spade, D. (2002). Dress to kill, fight to win. LTTR, 1, 15.

Week 8: Community, Kinship, and (Dis)Connection

Bilge, S. (2016). Theoretical coalitions and multi-issue activism: ‘Our struggles will be intersectional or they will be bullshit.’ In S. Bakshi, S. Jivraj, & S. Posocco (Eds.), Decolonizing sexualities: Transnational perspectives, critical interventions (pp. 108-122). London, UK: Counterpress.

Duran, A., & Nicolazzo, Z. (2017). Exploring the ways trans* collegians navigate academic, romantic, and social relationships. Journal of College Student Development, 58(4), 526-544.

Marine, S. B. (2011b). Stonewall’s legacy: Bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender students in higher education. ASHE Higher Education Report, 37(4).

Marine, S. B. & Nicolazzo, Z. (2014). Names that matter: Exploring the complexities of the experiences of trans* individuals in LGBTQ centers. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 7(4), 265-281.

Nicolazzo, Z, & Marine, S. B. (2015). “It will change if people keep talking”: Trans* students in college and university housing. Journal of College and University Student Housing, 42(1), 160-177.

Nicolazzo, Z, Pitcher, E., Renn, K., & Woodford, M. (2017). An exploration of trans* kinship as a strategy for student success. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30(3), 305-319.

Pryor, J. T. (2015). Out in the classroom: Transgender student experiences at a large public university. Journal of College Student Development, 56(5), 440-456.

rad fag. (2017). Happening now: Trans-led coalition shuts down Chicago pride parade. Radical Faggot. Retrieved from 

Week 9: Sexual Violence

Cantor, D., Fisher, B., Chibnall, S., Townsend, R., Lee, H., Bruce, C., & Thomas, G. (2015). Report on the AAU campus climate survey on sexual assault and sexual misconduct. Association of American Universities. Retrieved from 

Marine, S. B. (2017). For Brandon, for justice: Naming and ending sexual violence against trans* college students. In J.C. Harris & C. Linder (Eds.), Intersections of identity and sexual violence on campus: Centering minoritized students’ experiences (pp. 83-100). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Marine, S. B., & Nicolazzo, Z. (In press). Campus sexual violence prevention educators' use of gender in their work: A critical exploration. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

New, J. (2015, September 25). The ‘invisible’ one in four. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from  

Tillapaugh, D. (2017). “The wounds of our experience”: College men who experienced sexual violence. In J.C. Harris & C. Linder (Eds.), Intersections of identity and sexual violence on campus: Centering minoritized students’ experiences (pp. 101-118). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Tillapaugh, D. (2016). Resisting erasure: Critical influences for men who survived sexual
violence in higher education.
Social Alternatives, 35(3), 11-17.

Week 10: Trans* Educators

Forbes, K. (2012). "Do these earrings make me look dumb?": Diversity, privilege, and heteronormative perceptions of competence in the academy. In A. Enke (Ed.), Transfeminist perspectives in and beyond transgender and gender studies (pp. 34-44). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Jourian, T.J., Simmons, S. L., & Devaney, K. (2015). "We are not expected": Trans* educators (re)claiming space and voice in higher education and student affairs. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 2(3), 431-446.

Keenan, H. B. (2017). Unscripting curriculum: Toward a critical trans pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 87(4), 538-556.

McKinnon, R. (2012). On the market as a transgender candidate. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from 

miller, s.j. (2016). (Un)becoming trans*: Every breath you take and every… In s.j. miller & N. M. Rodriguez (Eds.), Educators queering academia: Critical memoirs (pp. 103-112). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Pitcher, E. N. (2017). “There’s stuff that comes with being an unexpected guest”: Experiences of trans* academics with microaggressions. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30(7), 688-703.

Pitcher, E. N. (2016). Undone and (mis)recognized: Disorienting experiences of a queer, trans* educator. In s.j. miller & N. M. Rodriguez (Eds.), Educators queering academia: Critical memoirs (pp. 137-144). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Simmons, S. L. (2017). A thousand words are worth a picture: A snapshot of trans* postsecondary educators in higher education. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30(3), 266-284.

Week 11: Normalization, Cultural Studies, and Population Management

Butler, J. (2006). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York, NY: Routledge.

Butler, J. (2004). Undoing gender. New York, NY: Routledge.

Catalano, D. C. J., & Griffin, P. (2016). Sexism, heterosexism, and trans* oppression: An integrated perspective. In M. Adams, L. A. Bell, D. J. Goodman, & K. Y. Joshi (Eds.), Teaching for diversity and social justice (3rd ed.). (pp. 183–211). New York,
NY: Routledge.

Edelman, E. A. (2014). ‘Walking while transgender’: Necropolitical regulations of trans feminine bodies of colour in the nation’s capital. In J. Haritaworn, A. Kuntsman, & S. Posocco (Eds.), Queer necropolitics (pp. 172-190). New York, NY: Routledge.

Garvey, J. C., Chang, S. H., Nicolazzo, Z, & Jackson, R. (Eds.). (2018). Trans* policies and experiences in housing and residence life. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Jaekel, K. (2016). What is normal, true, and right: A critical discourse analysis of students' written resistance strategies on LGBTQ topics. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 29(6), 845-859.

Marine, S. B. (2017). Changing the frame: Queering access to higher education for trans* students. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30(3), 217-233.

Marine, S. B. (2009). Navigating discourses of discomfort: Women’s college student affairs administrators and transgender students. Dissertation Abstracts International, 70(2), UMI 3349517.

Namaste, V. K. (2006). Genderbashing: Sexuality, gender, and the regulation of public space. In S. Stryker & S. Whittle (Eds.), The transgender studies reader (pp. 584–600). New York, NY: Routledge.

Nicolazzo, Z. (2017). Trans* in college: Transgender students’ strategies for navigating campus life and the institutional politics of inclusion. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Preciado, P. B. (2013). Testo junkie: Sex, drugs, and biopolitics in the pharmocopornographic era. New York, NY: Feminist Press.

Seelman, K. L. (2014). Recommendations of transgender students, staff, and faculty in the USA for improving college campuses. Gender & Education, 26(6), 618-635.

Seelman, K. L. (2014). Transgender individuals' access to college housing and bathrooms: Findings from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 26(2), 186-206.

Spade, D. (2000). Mutilating gender. Make Zine. Retrieved from

Week 12: The Need for Prison Abolition

Gares, J. (Director & Producer). (2016). Free CeCe! [Motion picture]. USA: Jac Gares Media, Inc.

Grant, J. M., Mottet, L. A., Tanis, J., Harrison, J., Herman, J. L., & Keisling, M. (2011). Injustice at every turn: A report of the national transgender discrimination survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Mogul, J. L., Ritchie, A. J., & Whitlock, K. (2012). Queer (in)justice: The criminalization of LGBT people in the United States. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Stanley, E. A., & Smith, N. (2015). Captive genders: Trans embodiment and the prison industrial complex (2nd ed.). Chino, CA: AK Press.

Sylvia Rivera Law Project. (2007). “It’s war in here”: A report on the treatment of transgender and intersex people in New York state men’s prisons. New York, NY: Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

Week 13: The Trans* Research Process

Catalano, D. C. J. (2017). Resisting coherence: Trans men’s experiences and the use of grounded theory methods. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30(3), 234-244.

Green, K. M. (2016). Troubling the waters: Mobilizing a trans* analytic. In E. P. Johnson (Ed.), No tea, no shade: New writings in black queer studies (pp. 65-82). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Jourian, T.J. & Nicolazzo, Z. (2016). Bringing our communities to the research table: The liberatory potential of collaborative methodological practices. Educational Action Research. Advanced online publication. DOI: 10.1080/09650792.2016.1203343.

Nicolazzo, Z. (2014). Identity as inquiry: Living and researching from the borderlands. In R. N. Brown, R. Carducci, & C. R. Kuby (Eds.), Disruptive qualitative inquiry: Possibilities and tensions in education research (pp. 205-226). New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

Renn, K. A. (2010). LGBT and queer research in higher education: The state and status of the field. Educational Researcher, 39(2), 132-141.  

Week 14: Queer and TGNC-centered Community-Based Organizations

Against Equality

Audre Lorde Project

Black and Pink

Brown Boi Project

Chicago BTGNC Collective


Gender JUST

Sylvia Rivera Law Project

TGI Justice Project

TransLatin@ Coalition

Transgender Education Network of Texas

Transgender Law Center

Trans Oral History Project

Trans Tech Social Enterprises

TransWomen of Color Collective

Week 15: Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming Artists, Activists, and Authors

Corey Alexander

Joshua Allen

Star Amerasu

Ryka Aoki

Kay Ulanday Barrett

Micah Bazant

b. binaohan

Justin Vivian Bond

Mickyel “Micky” Bradford

Precious Brady-Davis

Laverne Cox

Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi

La Espiritista

Big Freedia

Che Gossett

Reina Gossett

Laura Jane Grace

Jennicet Gutiérrez

Tobi Hill-Meyer

Lourdes Ashley Hunter


Saby Labor

Jamal Lewis

Miss Major

J Mase III

CeCe McDonald

Luna Merbruja

Tiq Milan

Janet Mock

Isa Noyola

Morgan M. Page

Jack Qu’emi

Jen Richards

Angelica Ross

Mey Rude

Bamby Salcedo

Venus Di’Khadijah Selenite

Rae Senarighi

Julia Serano

J. Skyler

Mattilda B. Sycamore

Mya Taylor

Kai Cheng Thom

Jos Truitt

Alok Vaid-Menon

Kiyan Williams

Raquel Willis

Kortney Ryan Ziegler

Week 16: Trans* Compendiums and Collections

Léger, T., & MacLeod, R. (Eds.). (2012). The collection: Short fiction from the transgender vanguard. New York, NY: Topside Press.

The complete issue of the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 30(3).

The complete issue of Radical Teacher, 92.

The complete issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 2(3).

Stryker, S., & Aizura, A. Z. (Eds.). (2013). The transgender studies reader 2. New York, NY: Routledge.

Stryker, S., & Whittle, S. (Eds.). (2006). The transgender studies reader. New York, NY: Routledge.