Atmospheres of Violence: Structuring Antagonism and the Trans/Queer Ungovernable (Duke University Press, 2021)

Advances in LGBTQ rights in the recent past—marriage equality, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the expansion of hate crimes legislation—have been accompanied by a rise in attacks against trans, queer and/or gender-nonconforming people of color. In Atmospheres of Violence, theorist and organizer Eric A. Stanley shows how this seeming contradiction reveals the central role of racialized and gendered violence in the United States. Rather than suggesting that such violence is evidence of individual phobias, Stanley shows how it is a structuring antagonism in our social world. Drawing on an archive of suicide notes, AIDS activist histories, surveillance tapes, and prison interviews, they offer a theory of anti-trans/queer violence in which inclusion and recognition are forms of harm rather than remedies to it. In calling for trans/queer organizing and worldmaking beyond these forms, Stanley points to abolitionist ways of life that might offer livable futures.

Trap Door Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (MIT Press) edited by Tourmaline, Eric A. Stanley and Johanna Burton

The increasing representation of trans identity throughout art and popular culture in recent years has been nothing if not paradoxical. Trans visibility is touted as a sign of a liberal society, but it has coincided with a political moment marked both by heightened violence against trans people (especially trans women of color) and by the suppression of trans rights under civil law. Trap Door grapples with these contradictions.

The essays, conversations, and dossiers gathered here delve into themes as wide-ranging yet interconnected as beauty, performativity, activism, and police brutality. Collectively, they attest to how trans people are frequently offered “doors”—entrances to visibility and recognition—that are actually “traps,” accommodating trans bodies and communities only insofar as they cooperate with dominant norms. The volume speculates about a third term, perhaps uniquely suited for our time: the trapdoor, neither entrance nor exit, but a secret passageway leading elsewhereTrap Door begins a conversation that extends through and beyond trans culture, showing how these issues have relevance for anyone invested in the ethics of visual culture.

Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex  (AK Press, 2011/2015) edited by Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith

Pathologized, terrorized, and confined, trans/gender non-conforming and queer folks have always struggled against the enormity of the prison industrial complex. The first collection of its kind, Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith bring together current and former prisoners, activists, and academics to offer new ways for understanding how race, gender, ability, and sexuality are lived under the crushing weight of captivity. Through a politic of gender self-determination, this collection argues that trans/queer liberation and prison abolition must be grown together. From rioting against police violence and critiquing hate crimes legislation to prisoners demanding access to HIV medications, and far beyond, Captive Genders is a challenge for us all to join the struggle.


“The Affective Commons: Gay Shame, Queer Hate, and Other Collective Feelings,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Volume 24, Number 4, October 2018. A pdf  is here

“Anti-Trans Optics: Recognition, Opacity, and the Image of Force,” The South Atlantic Quarterly, 116:3, July 2017. A pdf is here.

“Decolonizing Transgender: A Roundtable Discussion,” co-authored with Tom Boellstorff, Mauro Cabral, Micha Cardenas, Trystan Cotten, Kalaniopua Young, and Aren Z. Aizur in TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1:3 August 2014. A pdf is here.


“Gender Self-determination,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1:1, May 2014. A pdf is here

“Queer Love Economies: Making Trans/Feminist Film in Precarious Times,” co-authored with Wu Tsang and Chris Vargas, Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory. Here is the pdf  Queer_love_economies.

“Queering Prison Abolition Now?” co-written with Dean Spade and the authors of the book Queer (In)Justice in the journal American Quarterly you can download a PDF of the article here.

“Near Life, Queer Death: Overkill and Ontological Capture” in the journal Social Text you can download a pdf of the article Near Life Queer Death.

Book Chapters:

“Known Unknowns: An Introduction to Trap Door”, Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley and Johanna Burton, Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley and Johanna Burton, eds., Trap Door Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility, (MIT Press, 2017). A pdf is Here

“Slow Boil: AIDS and the Remnants of Time,” Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, ed., Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and Desire to Conform, (AK Press, 2012)

“Marriage is Murder: On the Discursive Limits of Matrimony,” Ryan Conrad and Yasmin Nair, eds., Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage (Against Equality Publishing Collective, 2010).

“Race Haunted, Otherwise,” Mattilda B. Sycamore, ed., Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (Seal Press, 2006).

“Dealing Discourse: Drugs and the (Re)invention of Resistance,” Mattilda B. Sycamore, ed.,  That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, (Softskull Press, 2004).