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New journal a place to publish about the material realities of trans life

The Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies is published by Northwestern University Libraries and the Center for Applied Transgender Studies
A member of the Feminist Liberation front plants a transgender pride flag at the base of Democracy Monument during a 2021 rally in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo by Getty Images

The Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies (BATS), the first journal with an entirely trans editorial board, published its first open-access double issue today (June 13). The board’s members cover seven countries, from four continents and range from Harvard University professors to members of community nonprofits.

There are just three journals focusing on trans scholarship today, leaving an enormous gap in how much is published about trans life. Much like the independent nonprofit the Center for Applied Transgender Studies (CATS), BATS will also be by and for trans people, with an additional emphasis on public policy impact, said TJ Billard, editor of BATS and executive director of CATS.

Billard, an assistant professor in the School of Communication, spoke to Northwestern Now about the promise of the new publication.

What’s the significance of BATS?

“There are currently only three journals that focus on trans scholarship, and they’re usually filled with studies and papers written by cis doctors debating hormone dosages,” Billard said. “There’s nowhere to publish about the material realities of trans life, especially not open access. We have an important opportunity to change what the trans studies landscape looks like and set the publishing standard for other universities.”

How is it different from traditional academic journals?

“As a library-based publisher of open-access (free) scholarship, we provide faculty with a mission-driven alternative to the market-driven academic publishing industry,” said Chris Diaz, the Northwestern digital publishing librarian who built the journal’s website, set up the peer-review system and established indexing — all a first for NUL.

What can we expect to see in the journal?

“In our first double issue, you can expect to see researchers answering: What can applied trans studies do, and why do we need it?” Billiard said. “We have a paper on trans activism in India, one on children’s’ experience navigating gender clinics, fertility concerns and a paper exploring trans identity and autism.”

Where does trans studies stand as a field, specifically at Northwestern?

“There aren’t departments of trans studies at universities,” Billard said. “I’m one of few scholars in applied trans studies. But there’s an increasing investment in gender and sex at Northwestern, and we want to build that up further.”

How can the journal inform current events and the media?

“The kind of work we’re doing is part of increasing trans representation in the academy and being available as a resource to the scholars doing this work,” Billard said. “It’s also about the importance of rigorous and verified trans knowledge that can inform public policy right now. As anti-transgender advocates peddling misinformation are trying to shape policy, it’s our responsibility as academics to shape it in helpful ways.”

For Journalists: view the news release for media contacts