Trauma, Memory, and Political Upheaval

Trauma, Memory, and Political Upheaval

I am so pleased to have work appearing in Christine Kray, Tamar Carroll and Hinda Mandell’s (Eds) powerful volume, Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: Gender and Race in the 2016 US Presidential Election. This book, quite frankly, names names and pronounces swift and clean judgement on what was ultimately a spectacle that preceded the degradation of a democracy. I’ve written elsewhere about transgender children and children’s and families’ trauma under Trumpian faux populism, but this chapter represents a unique moment. I was inspired by the editors to offer searing, but scholarly, critique. The authors in this book are unafraid and I’m so pleased to be among them.

The editors write, “Anthropologist Sally Campbell Galman, in her ethnography of the parents of transgender children in chapter 20, found them employing ‘negative memory’ in the aftermath of the election, looking to historical referents, particularly 1930s Vienna, to reframe their family narratives from hopeful to traumatic. Concern over the rollback of transgender rights and persistence in advocacy for their children, Galman shows, led some parents to reframe activism as they ‘constructed the everyday as a form of protest'”(p. 17)

I wrote my chapter while the horrors of the Trump administration were unfolding, acknowledging then, as now, that we have yet to hit bottom and are certainly still falling. I put this work forward in hope, however, as the editors note in the final page of acknowledgements, “On April 4, 2018, as we write these final lines for the book, the nation is marking the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. May we all strive to live up to the dream” (p. xvi).

Keep fighting the good fight, folks. We ain’t beat yet. 

Galman, S. C. (2018). This is Vienna: Parents of transgender children from pride to survival in the aftermath of the 2016 election. In C. Kray, H. Mandell & T. Carroll (Eds.), Nasty women and bad hombres: Historical reflections on the 2016 presidential election (pp. 276-290).  Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

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