Black Transgender Geographies

This literature review will also serve as a dissertation chapter. The dissertation is for a doctoral degree in urban and environmental planning. The core topic investigates how “intersectionality,” both a theoretical frame and applied method, manifests in urban spaces. How can we expand our knowledge of intersectionality and the competing forms of power related to physical space? To do this, the scope of the dissertation explores how Black transgender women, at the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality, created spaces for community and economic gain in a marginal part of Washington, D.C., during the 1990s and early 2000s. One finding from the exploration is that those spaces overlapped with the geographies of sex work. Therefore the research narrates an urban history of the “trans stroll,” the section of the city where trans women assembled to engage in street-based sex work and find community. Due to the nascent emergence of transgender studies and lacking literature on the implications of urban planning in shaping the spaces or geographies of Black trans women, this literature review should cover the following topics or sections:1- The relationship between space and race.2- The relationship between space and gender.3- The relationship between space and sexuality.4- The geographies of sex work, focusing on urban contexts of the Global West.5- Neoliberal forms of urban governance, focusing on the regulation of public spaces.6- Heteronormativity and urban planning.7- Geographic or spatial liminality, focusing on trans and queer perspectives.8- Right to the City discourse.10- The “Just City” concept.
Of course, they do not have to be in the order above. Also, this is a general outline. Feel free to add other sections deemed prevalent and omit others if they do not fit the narrative. The attached files are not comprehensive sources but a great starting point. An inclusion of queer and trans-BIPOC voices is ideal. Canonical queer studies may be included but should also be critically interrogated. The literature review should conclude by positing the argument that there is a persisting gap in planning literature concerning the everyday spaces of Black trans women [and trans people more generally], and that ethnographic research is critical for understanding the lived experiences of this overlooked and understudied population, to advance efforts geared toward equity and justice in the built environment. Moreover, it adds to ongoing debates about the “Just City” concept and the “right to the city.”
To sum it all up, this research is about rethinking spatial liminality in urban contexts by centering on the lived experiences of Black trans women while illuminating the complex nature of intersectionality and the challenges it poses to urban planners and planning scholarship.

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