Public Events: June 5 – 9th, Summer Institute in Sexuality Studies

SISS schedule poster, June 5-9, 2017


The Centre for Feminist Research at York University presents:

Summer Institute in Sexuality Studies (SISS) 2017

Perversion at the Crossroads of Critical Race Studies, Psychoanalysis, and Queer Theory


Public Events Schedule


Date: Monday, June 5, 2017

Time: 12-1.30pm

Location: 519 Kaneff, YorkU

Lecture by Dr. Aparna Mishra Tarc

“Pedagogy and the perverse in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child”

Introduced by Toby Wiggins


Date: Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Time: 10am-11.30am

Location: TBD, YorkU

Lecture by Dr. Trish Salah

“Race as Kink: Reading Trans-Racial Fetishism”

Introduced by Dr. John Greyson


Date: Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Time: 5pm-7pm

Location: 25 Seaforth Ave

Art Exhibition & Reception

FAG Feminist Art Gallery

With Emelie Chhangur, Jennifer Chan, and Jesika Joy

Co-sponsored by the Graduate Program in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies


Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Time: 10am-11.30am

Location: 519 Kaneff, YorkU

Roundtable: Performing Perversion

Dr. Amber Jamilla Musser & Dr. Trish Salah in conversation with Dr. John Greyson, Dr. Sheila Cavanagh and Emelie Chhangur

Chaired by Dr. Allyson Mitchell


Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Time: 12.30-2.30pm

Location: 519 Kaneff, YorkU

Lecture by Dr. Amber Jamilla Musser

“Carrie Mae Weems and the Question of Brown Jouissance”

Introduced by Dr. Sheila Cavanagh


Date: Thursday, June 8, 2017

Time: 10am-11.30am

Location: 519 Kaneff, YorkU

Lecture by Dr. David Eng

“Race as Relation”

Introduced by Dr. David Murray


Date: Friday, June 9, 2017

Time: 10am-11.30am

Location: 519 Kaneff, YorkU

Roundtable: Thinking Perversion Transnationally

Dr. David Eng & Dr. Aparna Mishra Tarc in conversation with Dr. David Murray and Dr. David Seitz

Chaired by Dr. Dai Kojima


All events are free, but please RVSP to confirm your attendance via EventBrite:

For more information, please visit

Inquiries? Contact us at


With support from a SSHRC Connection Grant and York University:

Office of the Vice President Academic & Provost; Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation; the Faculty of Education; the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; the Faculty of Graduate Studies; the Graduate Program in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies; the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies; Glendon Gender and Women’s Studies Program; the Sexuality Studies Program; Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode Hall Law School; Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought; Department of Anthropology; Department of History; Department of Political Science; Department of Social Science; and the Centre for Feminist Research.


Upcoming Training: Transgender Competency for Crisis Intervention & Mental Health Service Providers

On May 30th and 31st I will be providing a workshop for Say Outloud Bellville and a day-long trans competency training for Victim Services for Victims and Survivors of Crime week. 

Transgender Competency Training for Crisis Intervention and Mental Health Service Providers

This day-long training will provide a strong foundation in trans issues and terminology, while additionally introducing some more complex issues faced by this community, including social determinants of health, institutional violence, and diversity within trans identity. Crisis intervention workers and health service providers will explore a range of topics and materials that highlight trans resilience, while also identifying tangible tools to make services more accessible to trans people.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will acquire a foundational understanding of transgender identity, terminology, and the diversity of transgender lived experience
  2. Participants will become knowledgeable about the social determinants of transgender health and evaluate the accessibility of their own organizations
  3. Participants will be introduced to the new crisis line “Trans Lifeline” and explore the facilitation of transgender resiliency
  4. Participants will begin the process of making their crisis work and mental health services more accessible to trans* individuals in their own region.

Victim Services, Hastings, Prince Edward and Lennox & Addington Counties offers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week short-term crisis support, practical assistance, information, and referral program to victims of crime and tragic circumstance.

Say Outloud is an alternative youth group that offers a warm, inviting and safe place in the community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, inter-sex, two spirited, queer, questioning youth and their allies.

For more information or to register:

Sexuality Studies Institute 2017 lecturers

The Summer Institute for Sexuality Studies faculty has been finalized! 

Make sure to check out the institute’s official website for updates. I will be posting about the public events soon…..

Dr. David Eng (University of Pennsylvania)

The SISS 2017 thematic focus originates from the call of David Eng for building analytical linkages between psychoanalysis, queer theory and ethnic studies, which he had vocalized in a number of publications. He is well-known to students of queer and critical race theories as an author of canonical books The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy (Duke, 2010)and Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America
 (Duke, 2001), and also as a co-editor with Jack Halberstam and José Esteban Muñoz of the special issue of Social Text: What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now (2005). The SISS 2017 will particularly benefit from Eng’s expertise in queer theory, transnational racial relations, the history of law, and his analysis of race in psychoanalytic clinical cases.


Dr. Amber Jamilla Musser (Washington University)

Amber Jamilla Musser’s expertise includes three pivotal theoretical perspectives of the SISS 2017: queer theory, critical race studies, and psychoanalysis. Musser has researched and published on brown femininity, whiteness, affect, masochism, and interracial relations. Her recent book Sensational Flesh: Race, Power and Masochism (NYU Press, 2014) offers an innovative methodological perspective employing masochism as a diagnostic tool to understand systemic racism, patriarchy and colonialism. Musser’s lecture will introduce students to her current work on contemporary art and the concept of brown jouissance.


Dr. Trish Salah (Queen’s University)

Trish Salah’s work is situated in the areas of postcolonial, feminist, and sexual minority literatures; comparative analysis of race and racisms; sexualities, genders and modernities; transnational cultural production; psychoanalysis and affect theory; sex work; transgender studies; and un/popular culture. Her books of poetry Wanting in Arabic (Mawenzi House, 2013) and Lyric Sexology (SPD, 2014) creatively explore diasporic trans and queer subjectivities, and employ the lyric as a lens to read transgender fantasies encoded in feminist, autobiographical, anthropological, and psychoanalytic archives. At SISS 2017, Salah’s unique expertise in transgender and diasporic cultural production will be employed in the creative and experimental writing workshop on poetry, perversity and power.


Dr. Aparna Mishra Tarc (York University)

Aparna Mishra Tarc is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education York University. Her scholarship examines the dynamic place of pedagogy in the ongoing subject formation of person.  Mishra Tarc is the author of many articles and the book Literacy of the Other: Renarrating Humanity (SUNY Press).  She is currently working on the book length project Pedagogy in the Novels of J.M. Coetzee (Routledge).



Trans art (therapy) in 1948

During today’s research on this history of clinical psychoanalytic opinions on transgender people, I stumbled across a fascinating article from 1948. Martin Grotjahn’s “Transvestite Fantasy Expressed in a Drawing” (Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 17:340-345) is not unique in its analysis of his patient’s “perversion” – Grotjahn argues that this image is a representation of the trans person’s disavowal of castration through the creation of a fetish (cross-dressing). For example, on left side of the drawing, you can discern the depiction of a scrotum without a penis, on the right, a life-like vagina bloodied and lacking a hymn. He states:

“It is noteworthy in the drawing that the castration is symbolized, but that it is clearly conceived as a literal castration denoted by the bleeding vagina, and testes without a penis. In typical transvestite fashion, the symbolic denial of castration is already implied: the testes may be found behind the curtain (under the clothes). The woman’s clothing becomes a substitute for the missing penis.”

His interpretations aside, what I actually find most captivating about this find, is the drawing itself, that has been preserved through the psychiatrist’s pathologizing clinical report. As Susan Stryker has articulated in the introduction to the first Transgender Studies Reader, it is up to trans studies scholars to return to these histories, combing over their records to uncover and rewrite stories of trans experience. This “Renarration” allows trans people to treat sexologist’s “immense body of clinical work as its archive” (Stryker 14).




1948, artist unknown


This sketch, clearly influenced by surrealism (and it also reminds me of Sybil Lamb’s work), reflects the balance of dream states and reality; fantasy and desire. Broadly, I see negotiations between polarized gendered embodiments, the struggle of the path this “patient” walks, of being observed, of feeling stuck, the shame of being seen or seeing, interiorities and exteriorities (holes and poles), and violence. Yet any analysis of the piece, without a conversation with the artist themselves, will also do much to reflect both the psyche of the one doing the analysis and their particular socio-political context. This is another reason why the medicalized archive to trans people could be of significant use for uncovering the resonant anxieties that have lubricated clinical transphobia. In other words, can we look at medical reports to determine cis people’s defensive responses to gender variance?

The kind of shame surrounding genitals and their medical documentation has always captured my attention. During the early 1990s, all psychiatric reports were accompanied by detailed measurements of the body, and exhaustive descriptions of privileged body parts (forehead, skull, pelvis, clitoris). The truth of mental illness was to be found in the flesh, as biological positivism had a weighty hold.

Trans and intersex people’s anatomies were documented through image and text that measured and compared their corporeal deviations to a measured norm – an all-encompassing phallometrics, obsessively filed and registered.

And despite the undisputable violence of this history, I can’t help but find such profoundly beautiful queer aesthetic in the kinds of sublime mutations captured through scientific record.

That said, I’ll leave you with the final image I found today, a watercolour depiction of a vulva from 1892, housed at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Archives & Museum. The genitals have been scarred by ulceration – which can be the result of any number of factors including STIs, sexual trauma, psoriasis, and fixed drug eruptions. The cause is not documented.

by Leonard Portal Mark, 1892


SISS 2017, Call for Participants

The Summer Institute in Sexuality Studies
June 5-9, 2017—York University, Toronto
Perversion at the Crossroads of Critical Race Studies, Psychoanalysis, and Queer Theory

Perversion is a slippery signifier, prolific in meanings and genealogies. It is most often associated with any type of sex which deviates from an expected trajectory or desired outcome. In 1905, Freud notoriously spoke of a child’s disposition as “polymorphously perverse.” This assertion was considered scandalous in its unveiling of childhood sexuality, but also in the contention that all subjects begin from a place of perversion, and that these unsound origins are perhaps not so easily abandoned. Perverse thoughts, objects, and acts extend beyond assumed aims, lingering uncomfortably upon that which should be quickly bypassed. They are sticky, insurgent, and out of place. They get sidetracked and fail to arrive on time. And because of these multifarious digressions, they are considered strange, abject, and to be avoided. In this way, parallels can be found between the social construction ofsiss_1 “perversion,” and ideologies surrounding race and queerness. Queer and critical race theorists have written at length about similar divergences: being disoriented and “slanted” (Ahmed 2006), failing (Halberstam 2011), disidentifying (Muñoz 1999), growing sideways (Stockton 2009), aberrating from gendered and eroticized liberal economies (Ferguson 2004).

The 2017 Summer Institute in Sexuality Studies (SISS) explores questions surrounding perversion from three key vantage points: critical race studies, psychoanalysis, and queer theory. Psychoanalysis and sexology have a conflicted relationship to the perverse, as both fields created taxonomies that pathologized certain sex acts and queer embodiments. These imperial taxonomies associated people of colour with excessive sexuality, taboo, fetishism, deviance, and moral depravity. The consequences of these destructive systems of classification still resonate today, yet have also been transformed and complicated through globalization, neoliberalism, the normalizations of LGBT people, interracial sexual relations, and visibility of sex. Some canonical queer theorists, including Michel Foucault, Lauren Berlant, and Leo Bersani, called for the recognition of queer, sadomasochistic, and public sex as subversive to heteronormative sexual politics. However, numerous queer of colour theorists (Eng, 2010; Muñoz, 2009; Musser, 2014; Reddy, 2011) point out that conceptualizing perversion as subversive overlooks the ways in which this concept has been employed as a tool in systems of racial oppression. Today, for example, the perverse psyche of “the other” is used to justify war on terrorism, torture of political prisoners, and exclusions of people of colour from citizenship in Europe and North America.

Given perversion’s complex history, its foundational ties to colonization, and continued relationship to systemic marginalization, how may we best make use of this concept today? Participants at this year’s Summer Institute pursue this question, exploring facets of perversion through brown jouissance; reconceptualizations of race; emotions, affects and the flesh; black aesthetics; trans racial intersections; BDSM and fetish; citizenship and homonationalisms; visual art, poetry, and more.

Over the course of five days, the participants will engage in lectures, master classes, roundtables and creative workshops using a wide variety of approaches to consider the intersections of perversion, psychoanalysis, queer theory, and race. By bringing together internationally renowned lecturers and graduate students from a variety of disciplinary and geographical backgrounds, the Summer Institute provides an international and multidisciplinary platform for learning, sharing and developing research and theory in the area of sexuality studies. SISS has partnered with FAG Feminist Art Gallery to provide a series of cultural events throughout the week led by their artist in residence. For more detailed information regarding lecturers and the schedule of classes and events, see our website or email with inquiries at

Apply to the 2017 Summer Institute in Sexuality Studies by filling out the SISS 2017 Application Form Here.

Apply for a travel subsidy for the 2017 Summer Institute in Sexuality Studies by filling out the SISS 2017 Financial Assistance Form Here.

Access the Preliminary SISS 2017 Schedule Here.

Institute participants will receive a certificate of participation upon completion.

Welcome to my site!

Welcome to my newly updated personal website. Here you can find information about current events, community organizing, my art practice, research, and writing, as well as a comprehensive archive of past work.

The site will be updated regularly with details about new ventures as they emerge. You can navigate through my scholarly work, including my current Ph.D. research at York University, under the “Academic” section (top right). You can also find information about hiring me for workshops, training, or guest speaking under “Consultation.” Check out “Community Support” for my developing mental health-related and clinical practice. Finally, for links to my videography and photography can be found through “Visual Art“.

Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with any inquiries, including artistic or academic collaborations.

Warm Wishes and Happy New Year.

Tobias B. D. Wiggins

“The future belongs to the impure. The future belongs to those who are ready to take a bit of the other, as well as being what they themselves are” (Hall, 1998: 299).