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CFP: Conforming, Reforming, Trans*forming: Interrogating the Intersections of Trans Studies and Classics

Lambda Classical Caucus Panel

2023 Annual Meeting of the SCS/AIA

New Orleans, LA

Within the field of Classics, TransAntiquity (2017) and Exploring Gender Diversity in the Ancient World (2020) have presented us with different visions of how trans history and Classical Studies can interact. TransAntiquity emphasizes alterity, denying the possibility of being trans in world devoid of medicalization, gender clinics, and surgery. Exploring Gender Diversity in the Ancient World (2020) takes the opposite approach, using modern conceptions of trans to make the past more legible (e.g., Ash’s use of the DSM V or Adkins’ use of the hijra). With these two examples in mind, we call for a continued discussion of the intersection between trans studies and Classics. How can we make the past legible to care for and protect modern trans identities without overwriting the radical nuances of that past?

Studies in trans history are often formulated around a search for and a discussion of lives that can be understood as crossing gender boundaries, for the important rallying cry of ‘we have always been here’ (see Malatino’s ‘hirstory’ as an ethics of care [2020]). In Classics and Ancient History, this comes about by reinterpreting and reframing already well-picked-over evidence. Yet, this reframing requires intentional sets of choices. As Devun and Tortorici note, trans history presents us with a “stark choice between ancestral essentialism, on the one hand, and radical altericism, on the other” (2018).

This panel calls for moving transness away from modern conceptions of identity, the clinic, medicalization, and the modern gender binary and seeing transness as “transversal and transitive” (Snorton 2017), a moving outside of the boxes that define us all. Thus, Trans is not only a 20th and 21st century identity but also a heuristic for interrogating the unquestioned boundaries and binaries that make up our extremely gendered society today. Trans is a tool that allows us to deconstruct and reconstruct the various meanings gender has had at different times and in different places.

Some potential paper topics include:

  • Relying on textual, visual, or archaeological evidence, how can we define (trans*)gender in the Greek or Roman imaginary?
  • According to ancient textual, visual, or archaeological evidence, how do categories and conceptions of gender identity negotiate, overlap with, diverge from, and interrelate with race, ethnicity, education, class, and opportunity?
  • How do modern expectations of gender bending or gender normative behavior diverge from the apparent expectations and norms of antiquity? How do modern receptions change or transform gender to fit modern expectations?
  • Who in antiquity defied the normative expectations of their day and is gender nonconforming, and who was simply living a normative gendered life in a different configuration than we recognize today?
  • How does embodiment feature as a category that is accepted/resisted, fluid/permanent in the Greek and Roman imaginary?


Bychowski, M.W., Howard Chiang, Jack Halberstam, Jacob Lau, Kathleen P. Long, Marcia Ochoa and C. Riley Snorton. 2017. “Trans*historicities: A Roundtable discussion.” TSQ 5.4: 658–685.

Devun, Leah. 2021. The Shape of Sex: Nonbinary Gender from Genesis to the Renaissance [Introduction]. Columbia University Press.

Devun, Leah and Zeb Tortorici. 2018. “Trans, Time, and History.” TSQ 5.4:518–537.

Malatino, Hil. 2020. Trans Care [Something Other than Transcestors: Hirstory Lessons]. UMN Press.

Snorton, Riley C. 2017. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity [Introduction]. UMN Press.

Please send an anonymous abstract following SCS guidelines as an attachment (with your name and contact information in the email only) to Sarah Levin-Richardson ( by the extended deadline of April 1, 2022. Please direct any questions to Ky Merkley ( or Chris Mowat (