A little over a month has passed since SEAC 2015. This was my first SEAC, my first time meeting many of the southeastern archaeologists whose work I’d been engaging with as a graduate student, and my first “out” conference as a trans woman. I wrote about the experience at Binary Opposition, not expecting more than a dozen people to read it. I wrote as a means of catharsis, as a way of processing personal victories and traumas. I wrote mostly for myself, as I generally do. Then I published it on my blog, because why not?
My heart leapt into my throat when I checked my browser about an hour later to see that the post had reached over 100 views. By the next morning the count was over 300. I wished I’d taken more time to proofread and edit. If I had been out before, now I was really out. Over the next few weeks, I heard from colleagues who had taken the time to consider my essay. We talked about the future of the SEAC Sexual Harassment Survey; about the possibility of a formal ethics statement; about panels, committees, and initiatives to increase the diversity and inclusivity of southeastern archaeology; about making the field, the lab, and the classroom safe for trans* experiences, trans* perspectives, and trans* bodies. It was encouraging to meet with such openness and such willingness to engage with the issues that I had wrestled with, but been unable to bring up directly, over the last few years.
As Shayle Matsuda’s recent piece in Wired pointed out, trans* people face unique barriers in field science. In order to make room in southeastern archaeology for more trans* scholars, we need to be willing to recognize and address those barriers in the classroom, lab, and field. In order to open our discourse to trans* perspectives, we need to be willing to listen to trans* voices. That many SEAC members have expressed a desire to do these things leaves me humbled, overwhelmed, and proud to be a part of this particular corner of archaeology. As a graduate student and a relatively new member of SEAC, I’m incredibly excited for the future.
I hope to turn my humble blog at Binary Opposition into a place not only to share my own perspective but to amplify queer voices from across the anthropological discipline. Maybe that’s not so humble, but we’ll see where it goes. I welcome submissions from queer anthropologists within the SEAC community and beyond regarding personal experiences, practical concerns, and theoretical discussions. It’s sort of open-ended. Things may be slow for a while, but I hope you’ll all keep listening.
A big thank you to Sarah for writing SEAC Underground’s first guest post! We look forward to reading more at Binary Opposition and hope more trans voices are heard across the scientific community.
We (the SEAC Underground staff writers) think it is important to continue the discussion of how southeastern archaeology can be a more inclusive place for all. Let’s keep the conversation going!