As the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu notes, social institutions regulate in part by working “on and through aspirations, on and through time, by controlling time and the rate of fulfillment of expectations.” Waiting is a common aspect of medicalized gender transition – trans people seeking hormones or surgery are often made to wait for years. This talk explores temporal dimensions of medicalized gender transition – in particular, the waiting lists, waiting periods, setbacks, refusals, and structural delays imposed on trans patients. Can the attachment constituted in long-term waiting be sustaining, or is it a threat to one’s well being? How is waiting managed, accepted, and contested by people who are subjected to it? These questions take on a necropolitical cast in the context of high rates of suicide and violence against trans people. This discussion is part of a broader study that uses critical social theories and an eclectic archive to address waiting as a relation between time, power, and social being. It argues that through regimens of waiting, biopower can enfold people into life-making practices while also rendering them neglected and disposable.
Victoria Pitts-Taylor is author of three books and editor of two volumes on the body and culture. Her latest book, The Brain's Body: Neuroscience and Corporeal Politics, won the Feminist Philosophy of Science Award from the Philosophy of Science Association, and the Robert K. Merton Book Award from the American Sociological Association. Her other books are In the Flesh: the Cultural Politics of Body Modification, Surgery Junkies: Wellness and Pathology in Cosmetic Culture, The Cultural Encyclopedia of the Body (ed.), and Mattering: Feminism, Science and Materialism (ed.).