My Trans Barbie Dream House: Media Fantasies of Bad Gender Play

October 13, 2022 at 5:30–7:30pm
Hybrid: Online and In-Person

Milieux seminar room, EV 11.705
1515 St-Catherine Street W., Concordia University


Mattel advertises its 2022 Laverne Cox Tribute Barbie Doll as a “superhero” class toy that “amplifies the message of moving beyond societal expectations to live more authentically.” And yet, the co-existence of the Cox Barbie with an avalanche of bills seeking to prevent US children from accessing gender transition calls into question the value of such “good” representational trans objects and their imagined styles of play. This talk seizes on the gap between the trans media objects we have and the trans politics we need as a dream space (or “dream house”) that can sustain trans people’s desire for alternative fantasies of gender play. Contrasting Mattel’s Cox Barbie doll with the culture jamming and video activism of the Barbie Liberation Organization, it calls us to expand the boundaries of trans cultural production beyond the representational to include forms of play whose mediation might activate and spread resistant modes of trans desire.

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Cáel M. Keegan is incoming Associate Professor of Critical Sexuality Studies and Film/Media at Concordia University. He is author of Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender and co-editor of Somatechnics 8.1 and the JCMS In Focus, “Transing Cinema and Media Studies.” His writing has also appeared in Genders, Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture, Transgender Studies Quarterly, Mediekultur, The Journal of Homosexuality, The Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Film Quarterly, and FLOW. Currently, he is special editor for Arts and Culture at Transgender Studies Quarterly.

Also join us on October 14th from 12:00-1:30pm at the FMS for the seminar, Getting Disciplined: A Conversation with Cáel Keegan.