White Institute Calendar

LGBTQ STUDY GROUP with Chris Straayer, Ph.D.

Date: 1 2022 20:30



The LGBTQ STUDY GROUP of the William Alanson White Institute  






Chris Straayer, Ph.D.



Trans Phantom Penis: Theoretical and Ethnographic Considerations



Wed. June 1, 2022



8:30 - 10:00 pm (EST)


Register Here





“Phantom penis” refers to a feeling that one’s body includes a penis that is not concretely present. This lecture combines insights from my 2020 article “Phantom Penis: Extrapolating Neuroscience and Employing Imagination for Trans Male Sexual Embodiment” (Studies in Gender and Sexuality 21.4) and the “Trans Phantom Penis” (TPP) project, for which I interviewed 112 trans masculine and nonbinary individuals (NYU IRB-FY2019-3565). My article contemplated trans phantom penis within the context of phantom limbs. One distinguishing characteristic of phantom penis is that it is associated with pleasurable sensation, in contrast to phantom limb pain. Also, while cis phantom penis results from the loss of a concrete penis, trans phantom penis recalls a meant-to-be penis. In 2021, Kit Rachlin Ph.D. and I presented “The Paradoxical and Bittersweet Trans Phantom Penis: A Conduit for Dysphoria and Euphoria” at the TransFormations conference at PCGS/ICP. That paper foregrounded TPP testimonies describing phantom penis experiences of simultaneous consciousness of presence and absence, affirmation and limitation, sadness and joy, certainty and wonderment. Although trans phantom penis evades physical pain, it cannot ensure against bottom dysphoria. This LGBTQ Study Group/WAWI lecture juxtaposes theoretical and ethnographic methodologies to complicate the question and parameters of “What is a trans phantom penis?”





Chris Straayer is an associate professor in the Department of Cinema Studies at New York University, where he teaches interdisciplinary courses such as Gender and Madness, Structures of Passing in Film and Literature, The Body: Sex/Science/Sign, and Trans/Queer Studies. He is the author of Deviant Eyes, Deviant Bodies (Columbia University Press), and his articles and reviews have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. His most recent publications are “Trans men's stealth aesthetics: navigating penile prosthetics and 'gender fraud'” (Journal of Visual Culture, 19.2, 2020) and "Phantom Penis: Extrapolating Neuroscience and Employing Imagination for Trans Male Sexual Embodiment" (Studies in Gender and Sexuality 21.4, 2020). Straayer has served as Curator, Program Advisor, and Co-organizer for a variety of programs and exhibits including “Lesbian Genders” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Transmutation: International Transgender Festival in London, and Gender Reel NYU: Transgender Film Festival. Straayer has sat on the editorial boards of Postmodern Culture, Velvet Light Trap, GLQ: Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, and, most recently, Transgender Studies Quarterly, for which he co-edited (with Eric Plemons) TSQ 5.2 The Surgery Issue. Straayer's research combines trans and queer studies with interests in science, social science, art, and cultural studies. He is currently engaged in two works in progress: Trans Phantom Penis: A Qualitative Analysis of 112 Interviews with Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals, and Trans-Physicalities, which addresses transgender desire for a biological basis, neurological renditions of sexual corporeality, and trans-future medicine.



For inquiries regarding the LGBTQ Study Group please contact Esin Egit, PhD (Chair): e.egit@wawhite.org