An Open Letter from Queer Studies Scholars

To Whom It May Concern,

We write to respond to Christopher Reed and Christopher Castiglia’s unfortunate letter regarding Grace Lavery’s essay on using appropriate pronouns in the classroom context. While we debated taking up the many points of Professor Castiglia and Professor Reed’s very long essay, we feel that the best response is a simple reiteration of the final lines of Professor Lavery’s essay:

Deadnaming and misgendering are not acceptable scholarly practices, and they are not covered by the principle of academic freedom.

We reject the idea that misgendering is an exercise of academic freedom. As teachers and scholars, we take very seriously the responsibility to challenge our students intellectually, but that responsibility in no way translates into the capacity to selectively refute their dignity and right to self-definition. That is not academic freedom; it is a form of self-serving aggression worthy of Title IX intervention on the part of the institution. That aggression makes itself felt across Professor Reed and Professor Castiglia’s entire letter, in its negation of Professor Lavery (whom they call “Grace”) as “adolescent” and “acting out.”

In short, we entirely reject Professor Reed’s manifesto, we reject the position taken in the letter written by both Professor Castiglia and Professor Reed, and we ask that our colleagues in the field take a position in the classroom in support of using chosen pronouns and names and protecting students’ Title IX rights to an educational environment free of harassment, just as many institutions have done. We have compiled a list of university guidelines on using pronouns below. We also direct our colleagues to Professor Dean Spade’s trenchant and precise response on this issue here.

Selected guides to teaching beyond the gender binary culled from university websites:

Princeton University

Vanderbilt University

Yale University

University of Kansas

University of Michigan

University of Pittsburgh

Duke University

Boston University

Carleton College

University of Maryland

School of Social Work, Smith College

Western Michigan University

University of California, Berkeley

Binghamton University

San Jose State University

California State University, Northridge

Mount Holyoke

The New School

Swarthmore College

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee



Cassius Adair, Independent Scholar in Transgender Studies

Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor of Feminist Studies at UCSC, Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature, UCLA; author of For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India, co-editor (with Geeta Patel) of  “Area Impossible: The Geopolitics of Queer Studies,” special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

Aren Z. Aizura, Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies,

University of Minnesota; author of Mobile Subjects: Transnational Imaginaries of Gender Reassignment

Aimee Bahng, Assistant Professor, Gender & Women’s Studies, Pomona College; Executive Treasurer, GLQ Caucus for the Modern Languages

Krista Benson, Grand Valley State University; Co-Managing Editor of Feral Feminisms

Thomas J Billard, University of Southern California; Archival Fellow, National Center for Transgender Equality

Sarah Blackwood, Associate Professor of English, Pace University 

Tyler Bradway, Assistant Professor, English, SUNY Cortland, co-editor of After Queer Studies: Literature, Theory, and Sexuality in the 21st Century (2019) and author of Queer Experimental Literature: The Affective Politics of Bad Reading (2017)

Fiona Brideoake, Assistant Prof of Literature, American University; author of The Ladies of Llangollen: Desire, Indeterminacy, and the Legacies of Criticism.

Jennifer DeVere Brody, Professor of Theater and Performance Studies, Stanford University; co-editor, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 

Karl Bryant, Associate Professor, Sociology and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, State University of New York, New Paltz

Jill H. Casid, Professor of Visual Studies, Departments of Art History and Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Karma R. Chávez, Associate Professor, University of Texas-Austin; book review editor, QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking; author, Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities

Mel Y. Chen, University of California, Berkeley; Coeditor, Anima book series, Duke University Press

Peter Coviello, Professor of English, University of Illinois at Chicago; author of Tomorrow’s Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America.

T.L. Cowan, Assistant Professor, Media Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough

Alicia Cox, Assistant Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine

Axil Cricchio, California State University Monterey Bay; contributor to Trans Bodies/Trans Selves

Paisley Currah, Professor of Political Science and Women’s & Gender Studies, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY; co-editor, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly

Ann Cvetkovich, Director, LGBTQ Studies, Garwood Centennial Professor of English, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Texas at Austin, former editor, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

Erin L. Durban, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, author of “Postcolonial Disablement and/as Transition: Trans* Haitian Narratives of Breaking Open and Stitching Together,” in TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly

Finn Enke, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, History, LGBTQ Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Book Review Editor, Transgender Studies Quarterly

Ramzi Fawaz, Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; author of The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics, co-editor, “Queers Read This!” special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

Stephanie Foote, Jackson and Nichols Professor of English, West Virginia University

Kathleen Frederickson, Associate Professor of English, University of California, Davis; author, The Ploy of Instinct: Victorian Sciences of Nature and Sexuality in Liberal Governance.

Elizabeth Freeman, Professor of English, University of California, Davis; former editor, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies; author of Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories.

Matt Franks, Assistant Professor of English and Director of Gender & Sexuality Studies, University of West Georgia

Dustin Friedman, Assistant Professor, Department of Literature, American University; author of Aestheticism Before Queer Theory: Art, Eroticism, and Subjectivity (forthcoming, Johns Hopkins University Press).

David J. Getsy, Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Colby Gordon, Bryn Mawr College, Assistant Professor of English on the Helen Taft Manning Fund for British History; Co-Editor, special issue of The Journal For Early Modern Cultural Studies on Early Modern Trans Studies

Timothy M. Griffiths, Postdoctoral Fellow in English and African American Literature, University of Virginia

Leon J. Hilton, Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies, Brown University

Laura Horak, Associate Professor of Film Studies/WGST, Carleton University; author of Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934

Katie Horowitz, Assistant Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies and Writing, Davidson College; author of The Trouble with “Queerness”: Drag and the Making of Two Cultures (under contract with Routledge)

Nat Hurley, Senior Director, Office of Interdisciplinary Studies, Associate Professor, Department English and Film Studies, University of Alberta; author of Circulating Queerness: Before the Gay and Lesbian Novel

Karen Jaime, Assistant Professor, Performing and Media Arts/Latina/o Studies Program, Cornell University

Rana M. Jaleel, MFA, JD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies, University of California, Davis

Miranda Joseph, Professor and Chair, Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, University of Minnesota

T.J. Jourian, Oakland University

Benjamin Kahan, Associate Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies, Louisiana State University; Humanities Book Review Editor, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

Cáel M. Keegan, Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Liberal Studies, Grand Valley State University; Author of Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender;  Co-editor of Somatechnics 8.1, “Cinematic Bodies” (March 2018).

Patrick Keilty, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto; Co-Lead Editor, Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience; Archives Director, Sexual Representation Collection, Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto

Dai Kojima, PhD, Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto; Director of Undergraduate Studies; Co-editor, “QUEER/ASIAN/CANADIAN” special issue (2017) in TOPIA: Journal of Cultural Studies

Regina Kunzel, Director, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Princeton University

Rachel Levitt, Assistant Professor, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, Kansas State University

Dana Luciano, Associate Professor of English, Rutgers University; co-editor; Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities; former Humanities Review Editor, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies; co-editor, “Queer Inhumanisms,” special issue of GLQ

Tey Meadow, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Columbia University, author of Trans Kids: Being Gendered in the Twenty-First Century.

Lisa Moore, Incoming Director, LGBTQ Studies Program, University of Texas at Austin; author of Lambda-winning Sister Arts: The Erotics of Lesbian Landscapes

Amber Jamilla Musser, Associate Professor of American Studies, The George Washington University; Author of Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance

Hoang Tan Nguyen, Associate Professor, Literature, Affiliate Faculty, Ethnic Studies | Critical Gender Studies, University of California, San Diego; author of A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation

Mimi Thi Nguyen, Associate Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies and Asian American Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Z Nicolazzo, PhD, Assistant Professor, Trans* Studies in Education, University of Arizona

Marcia Ochoa, Associate Professor, Feminist Studies/Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz; author of Queen for a Day: Transformistas, Beauty Queens, and the Performance of Femininity in Venezuela, co-editor, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

Katie R. Peel, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Member, Ad Hoc Review Board for The Journal of Homosexuality

Ann Pellegrini, Professor of Performance Studies and Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University; co-editor of Sexual Cultures book series, NYU Press, co-editor, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, Director (2008-2017), NYU’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality

Joseph M. Pierce,  Assistant Professor, Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature, Stony Brook University; author of Argentine Intimacies: Queer Kinship in an Age of Splendor, 1890-1910 (forthcoming, SUNY Press),  co-editor with Fernando A. Blanco and Mario Pecheny,
Derechos Sexuales en el Sur: Políticas del amor y escrituras disidentes

Eric Plemons, Professor, University of Arizona School of Anthropology and Transgender Studies Initiative  Author of The Look of a Woman: Facial Feminization Surgery and the aims of Trans- medicine

Jasmine Rault, Assistant Professor, Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto Mississauga

Mark Rifkin, Director of the Women’s and Gender  Studies Program and Professor ofEnglish, University of North Carolina Greensboro; author of Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination

Don Romesburg, Professor and Advisor to Queer Studies Minor, Women’s and Gender Studies Department, Sonoma State University; editor, The Routledge History of Queer America

Roxanne Samer, Clark University, Editor, “Transgender Media” special issue, Spectator: The University of Southern California Journal of Film and Television Criticism 37.2 (Fall 2017).

Ellen Samuels, Associate Professor, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Author of Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race

Cannon Schmitt, Professor & Director of Graduate Studies, Department of English, University of Toronto

Bethany Schneider, Associate Professor of English, Bryn Mawr College

Kyla Schuller, Associate Professor, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick; author of The Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century

Dana Seitler, Associate Professor of English, Director, Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies University of Toronto; author of Reading Sideways: The Queer Politics of Art in Modern American Fiction

Sandra K. Soto, Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies, University of Arizona; author of The De-Mastery of Desire: Reading Chican@ Like a Queer 

Susan Stryker, Associate Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Arizona; Founding Co-Editor, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly

Dan Tillapaugh, California Lutheran University

Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Associate Professor of English and Gender and Women’s Studies, Pomona College; co-editor, “On the Visceral,” special double issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

Karen Tongson, Associate Professor of English, Gender & Sexuality Studies, and American Studies & Ethnicity, University of Southern California; Editor, Postmillennial Pop series at NYU Press, CCI Faculty Liaison to the ONE National LGBT Archives at USC Libraries

David Valentine, University of Minnesota; author of Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category, Editorial Board member, GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies

Rachel Wagner, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, Clemson University

Harlan Weaver, Assistant Professor, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, Kansas State University