Vinita Chaudhry

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Northwestern U.

Grant number

Gr. 9400

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Chaudhry, Vinita, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'The Price of Transgender Justice: Funding, Advocacy, and Racial Politics in Philadelphia, PA,' supervised by Dr. Shalini Shankar

Preliminary abstract: ‘Transgender’ as a category has received widespread media attention due not only to unprecedented moments of visibility in the public sphere, but also inequalities with regard to legislation, health, poverty, and violence. Across the United States, nonprofit and social service organizations are looking to take advantage of this moment in order to serve marginalized transgender communities. Yet, they often do so with inconsistent understandings of what ‘transgender’ signifies, particularly to gender nonconforming communities of color, who experience multiple forms of economic and social marginalization. This project examines linguistic and economic negotiations among funders, advocates, social service providers, and gender nonconforming people seeking services in Philadelphia, PA, which boasts a rich history of transgender community building. Using ethnographic methods drawn from linguistic and cultural anthropology, including participant observation, interviews, and discourse analysis with these actors in Philadelphia, the project will document the varying institutional uses of ‘transgender’ and the moralized scripts that funders, advocates, and gender nonconforming people develop in order to achieve funding-related goals. The project will thus highlight how, in the production of scripts and in negotiations focused on gendered and racialized communities, these actors redefine and reshape broader meanings of gender, sexuality, race, and class. Through ethnographic investigation, this project will offer on-the-ground perspectives on the institutional production of ‘transgender’ as an economically, materially, and socially pertinent category.