Temple Professor: The American Home Is an Oppressive Cisgender Space

Freedom_From_Want Norman Rockwell
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

A recently published academic journal article from a professor at Temple University makes the case that the typical American household reinforces oppressive cisgender normalities.

Max J. Andrucki, a professor of geography and urban studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, penned a recent academic journal article on the oppressive nature of the American household. The article, which was recently highlighted by the popular New Real Peer Review Twitter account, is entitled “Trans objects: materializing queer time in US transmasculine homes,” was published last week in the academic journal Gender, Place and Culture. The article, at its core, argues that traditional American homes fail to embrace “trans objects.”

Andrucki says that transgender individuals should fill their living spaces with objects that remind them of the trans experience. He argues “that photographs and items of décor – particular, meaningful objects in trans homes – function to materialize the queerness of transition, and thus constitute a material expression of queer time.”

Well, what exactly is queer time? Andrucki provides a definition from New York University Professor Carolyn DinShaw. “As Carolyn Dinshaw writes, queer time is a specific mode of indexing ‘experiences not regulated by “clock” time or by a conceptualization of the present as singular and fleeting’ Queer time is thus ‘the felt experience of asynchrony’ (190),” Andrucki explains.

Jack Halberstam, a professor at Columbia University, defines queer time as “the dark nightclub, the perverse turn away from the narrative coherence of adolescence – early adulthood –marriage – reproduction – child rearing– retirement–death.”

There are many questionable claims in Andrucki’s article including one that focuses on the political role that family photos play when displayed in the American home. Andrucki explains that the placement of family photos reinforces certain expectations of what a family should look like.

“Morrison’s work on heterosexual couples suggests that a household photograph is an image-object which, through ‘the mundane practice of displaying and viewing […] reproduces specific sexed and gendered subjectivities in relation to domestic space,'” he writes.

Andrucki notes that even the telephone is a significant, intrusive object in the home of a trans person, as it serves as a mechanism for “transphobic actors” to enter the space. “Moving autoethnographically through the spaces of her home, Doan notes that even behind closed doors there are gradations of privacy as, for instance, the telephone can serve as a conduit for the intrusion of transphobic actors,” Andrucki writes.

 

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