Born in 1961 and raised in Oklahoma, Susan Stryker was a male at birth but now identifies as a lesbian transsexual female. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Letters from the University of Oklahoma in 1983 and a Ph.D. in American History from UC Berkeley in 1992, Stryker held a Ford Foundation/Social Science Research Council post-doctoral …
Born in 1961 and raised in Oklahoma, Susan Stryker was a male at birth but now identifies as a lesbian transsexual female. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Letters from the University of Oklahoma in 1983 and a Ph.D. in American History from UC Berkeley in 1992, Stryker held a Ford Foundation/Social Science Research Council post-doctoral research fellowship in Sexuality Studies at Stanford University. She also worked for many years as an independent scholar and filmmaker specializing in transgender history and theory.
In 1992 Stryker co-founded Transgender Nation, an “anti-transphobia” group that organized a protest at the 1993 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association to demand that the APA no longer classify transgenderism as a pathology.
From 1999-2003, Stryker was the executive director of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco.
Stryker’s 2005 documentary, Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, told the story of a 1966 uprising in San Francisco where transsexuals and drag queens engaged in what one media outlet has described as “the first known instance of collective militant queer resistance to police harassment in U.S. history.”
Over the years, Stryker has held positions as a visiting faculty member at Harvard University, UC Santa Cruz, Simon Fraser University, and Macquarie University. After a stint as an associate professor of Gender Studies at Indiana University, Stryker in 2011 took a faculty post at the University of Arizona (UA) and continues to teach there. When it looked as though another university was about to hire Stryker away from UA in 2013, Stryker agreed to stay at Arizona in exchange for the university’s pledge that it would establish a Transgender Studies program as a subfield of LGBT Studies.
In 2013, Stryker and University of Minnesota gender studies professor Aren Z. Aizura co-edited The Transgender Studies Reader 2, a collection of essays which was published as a follow-up to The Transgender Studies Reader (2006). In the Introduction to the 2013 volume, Stryker and Aizura write that “current trans of color critique resists imperialist forms of knowledge production precisely by calling attention to which transgender bodies – and they are almost always the non-white ones – are made to represent the traumatic violences through which claims for rights are articulated.” Further, the editors explain that the purpose of their book is to ask how Transgender Studies can “advance an anti-colonialist agenda” and “resist the subsumption of non-western configurations of personhood into western-dominant frameworks that privilege either ‘homo’ or ‘trans’ or assume the ontological given-ness of the concepts man and woman.”
In 2014, Stryker co-founded a journal called Transgender Studies Quarterly.
On November 9, 2016, Stryker used her Facebook page to describe Donald Trump’s presidential election victory as a “nightmare” and a “disaster,” emphasizing that it was vital “never to underestimate the power of white settler economic grievances, or of fragile white masculinity, when it is channeled into racism and xenophobia.” While noting that Trump’s election signaled the dawn of an era where “hate and oppression” would “fall on me as a white queer/trans person,” Stryker said: “[M]y heart is truly broken for my friends in this country who are Muslim and Latinx, who are brown and black, who are immigrants, who speak English with an accent. Already today I am hearing from friends who are afraid to go to work or even to go outside.” To strike back at Trump and his agenda, Stryker vowed to support and participate in a wide variety of “resistance” activities and movements.
In late January 2017, Stryker took part in a mass resistance rally that effectively shut down San Francisco International Airport to protest President Trump’s temporary restrictions on immigration from nations that were hotbeds of Islamic terrorism. On January 30, Stryker wrote: “There are so many individual battles to fight, why not just one big collective ‘no’ to the new regime?… What if millions of people took to the streets and demanded a new government that reflects the ideals of the majority?”
Soon afterward, Stryker promoted the idea of a nationwide general strike to be held on February 17, 2017, writing: “[L]et’s shut this country down for a day. Gather your tribes and posses and family members and get everybody to call in sick, not go to class, and not buy stuff. Do nonviolent civil disobedience by occupying a federal building. Hold a sanctuary campus rally at your school. Use the day to make calls jamming the phone lines in elected officials’ offices letting them know you oppose whatever outrage the Trump regime will be perpetrating in two weeks. Make Pennsylvania Avenue impassible [sic].”
On August 25, 2017, Stryker participated in a successful effort to shut down a San Francisco rally organized by Patriot Prayer, a conservative Christian group whose members the professor described as “enablers of white supremacy and anti-semitism.” The following day, Stryker took part in the “Stand against Hate at Alamo Square Park” in San Francisco, which Stryker said was intended to “shut…down…alt-right activity” by “occupying public space in a way that speaks louder than the actions of others who enable white supremacy, anti-semitism, misogyny, and queer- and transphobia in the name of ‘free speech.’” Affirming on Facebook that “I’m in the ‘it’s ok to punch nazis’ camp,” Stryker on August 27 participated in a “Bash the Fash” (i.e., “fascism”) rally in Berkeley alongside members of the violent Marxist/anarchist Antifa movement. And on September 5, 2017, Stryker protested outside the San Francisco Federal Building in support of young-adult illegal aliens in the United States.
Stryker has described the conservative Tea Party movement as a fascist and racist phenomenon. Stryker also regards capitalism as a highly destructive and unjust economic system.