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Lucy D. Curzon

BOOK REVIEW

Ann Travers. 2018. The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution. New York: New York University Press.

Ann Travers's new book, The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution (hereafter The Trans Generation) is a highly persuasive investigation that sheds much-needed scholarly light on a grossly marginalized, precarious community. Travers interviewed 36 transgender children, and many of their parents, to reveal the challenges they face in everyday use of bathrooms, locker rooms, and other rigidly gendered spaces, as well as in interactions with friends, parents, and siblings, as well as schools, and local and state or provincial governments. Apart from the scope of this study, what is remarkable about The Trans Generation is its accessibility. Instead of presenting a quantitative analysis, which can be alienating to readers outside academia, Travers offers an exhaustive qualitative study parsed in highly thoughtful, eloquent, and open terms—one that prizes the individuality, indeed the knowableness, of each child interviewed. And, although The Trans Generation is not explicitly dedicated to discussions of girlhood, the focus of this journal, it nonetheless offers, I argue, valuable new paradigms or strategies for thinking about girls’ lives and identities.

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Non-normative Bodies, Queer Identities

Marginalizing Queer Girls in YA Dystopian Literature

Miranda A. Green-Barteet and Jill Coste

Abstract

In this article we consider the absence of queer female protagonists in dystopian Young Adult (YA) fiction and examine how texts with queer protagonists rely on heteronormative frameworks. Often seen as progressive, dystopian YA fiction features rebellious teen girls resisting the restrictive norms of their societies, but it frequently sidelines queerness in favor of heteronormative romance for its predominantly white, able-bodied protagonists. We analyze The Scorpion Rules (2015) and Love in the Time of Global Warming (2013), both of which feature queer girl protagonists, and conclude that these texts ultimately marginalize that queerness. While they offer readers queer female protagonists, they also equate queerness with non-normative bodies and reaffirm heteronormativity. The rebellion of both protagonists effectively distances them from the queer agency they have developed throughout the narratives.

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Not Just a Phase

Queer Girlhood and Coming of Age on Screen

Whitney Monaghan

Abstract

In this article, I seek to interrogate the visibility of queer girls in contemporary cinema. I demonstrate how queerness has long been associated with a passing phase of adolescent development in the teen media sphere. I reflect on the nuanced relationships between queerness and girlhood in four contemporary US independent queer films, arguing that Pariah (2011), Mosquita y Mari (2012), First Girl I Loved (2016), and Princess Cyd (2017) are representative of a new wave of queer girlhood on screen. Rejecting the pervasive tropes of coming out as coming of age and just a phase, these films use queer girlhood to challenge linear models of girlhood.

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Repetitions of Desire

Queering the One Direction Fangirl

Hannah McCann and Clare Southerton

Abstract

Like other fangirls, fans of former boyband One Direction (“Directioners”) have often been represented in media discourse as obsessive and hysterical, with fan behaviour interpreted as longing for heterosexual intimacy with band members. Subverting this heteronormative framing, a group of Directioners known as “Larries” have built a sub-fandom around imagining a relationship (“ship”) between two of the band members, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. Representation of the Larry fandom has gone beyond pathologizing fangirls to framing their shipping practice in terms of “fake news.” The conspiracy theory panic around Larries misses the complex ways that subtext and queer reading are mobilized within the fandom to invoke feelings of queer intimacy and belonging. Drawing on a digital ethnography conducted on Twitter with Larries, we argue that these fans engage in queer reading strategies to explicitly imagine and interrupt dominant heterosexual narratives, and thus queer the figure of the fangirl.

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“Your Young Lesbian Sisters”

Queer Girls’ Voices in the Liberation Era

Amanda H. Littauer

Abstract

Drawing on letters and essays written by teenage girls in the 1970s and early 1980s, and building on my historical research on same-sex desiring girls and girlhoods in the postwar United States, I ask how teenage girls in the 1970s and early 1980s pursued answers to questions about their feelings, practices, and identities and expressed their subjectivities as young lesbian feminists. These young writers, I argue, recognized that they benefitted from more resources and role models than did earlier generations, but they objected to what they saw as adult lesbians’ ageism, caution, and neglect. In reaching out to sympathetic straight and lesbian public figures and publications, girls found new ways to combat the persistent isolation and oppression faced by youth whose autonomy remained severely restricted by familial, educational, and legal structures.

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Building the Femorabilia Special Collection

Methodologies and Practicalities

Nickianne Moody

Abstract

In this article I examine the potential of the Femorabilia Collection of Women’s and Girls’ Twentieth Century Periodicals for the study of girlhood in Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations and I explain why the collection was originally created and describe its current purpose and policy to promote future research. I consider the importance of material and reading cultures as well as approaches to understanding the content of these varied publications and discuss the difficulties of working with mass culture, ephemeral texts, and the problem of obtaining examples, and I consider the collection’s particular focus on popular fiction. I consider the development of the collection, examples of methodology and practice, and its use in pedagogy, research, and public engagement.

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Contemporary Girls Studies

Reflections on the Inaugural International Girls Studies Association Conference

Victoria Cann, Sarah Godfrey, and Helen Warner

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Claudia Mitchell

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Growing Up Married

In Conversation with Eylem Atakav

Zahra Khosroshahi

Abstract

Child marriage affects many young girls and women all over the world, and yet, while the number of cases is extremely alarming, there appears to be hardly any awareness of the subject, never mind public visibility. The consequences of forced marriage are dire with severe psychological, physical, and social impact on girls and women. If we are to raise awareness, the silence surrounding forced child marriage needs to be broken. In her documentary film Growing Up Married (2016), feminist media scholar Eylem Atakav faces the issue head-on. Her film brings to the screen four women from Turkey who were forced into marriage as children; as adults, they recollect their memories, on camera, for the first time. Growing Up Married—a milestone of feminist filmmaking in its celebration of women’s narratives of survival—foregrounds their voices as they tell their stories of having been child brides.

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Holding Up Half the Sky

Global Narratives of Girls at Risk and Celebrity Philanthropy

Angharad Valdivia

Abstract

In this article I explore the Half the Sky (HTS) phenomenon, including the documentary shown on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network in 2014. I explore how the girls in whose name the HTS movement exists are represented in relation to Nicholas Kristoff and six celebrity advocates. This analysis foregrounds Global North philanthropy’s discursive use of Global South girls to advance a neoliberal approach that ignores structural forces that account for Global South poverty. The upbeat use of the concept of opportunities interpellates the audience into participating in individualized approaches to rescuing girls. Ultimately girls are spoken for while celebrities gain more exposure and therefore increase their brand recognition.