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Dr Emily Cousens

  • Overview



    My research is at the intersection of feminist philosophy and trans history. I am currently interested in feminist (trans, queer, lesbian radical) print cultures from the 1970s, prefigurative politics of liberation, and alternative visions for gender. 

    I joined Birkbeck in September 2023, after holding a fellowship at the London School of Economics (2021-2023) and a Visiting Lecturership at the University of Oxford (2018-2022).


    • BA/Leverhulme funded project: Second Wave Trans Feminisms in Print (2021-2023)

      Contributing to recent scholarship that reassesses the dominant perception of second-wave feminism as politically misguided and theoretically naive, this timely project explores an archive of 1970s print culture and academic arguments to open up the possibility of reading a second-wave trans feminism. It investigates the rich - and as yet overlooked - archive of independently produced newsletters and journals written by and for trans people in North America and Canada in the 1970s, and discusses the articulations of sex and gender contained therein. It argues that these documents reveal a lively, intersectional trans feminist engagement with the women's liberation movement. Using ‘trans’ as an umbrella term to include a range of trans femme identities and subjectivities, such as male women, transgenderist and cross-dresser, this project explores the different investments in and contributions to second-wave feminism of trans people of colour, working class trans people and queer trans people.

    • New book: Trans Feminist Epistemologies in the US Second Wave

      Why do “second wave” and “trans feminism” rarely get considered together? Challenging the idea that trans feminism is antagonistic to, or arrived after, second wave feminism, Emily Cousens re-orients trans epistemologies as crucial sites of second wave feminist theorising. By revisiting the contributions of trans individuals writing in underground print publications, as well as the more well-known arguments of Andrea Dworkin, this book demonstrates that valuable yet overlooked trans feminist philosophies of sex and gender were present throughout the US second wave. It argues that not only were these trans feminist epistemologies an important component of second wave feminism's knowledge production, but that this period has an unacknowledged trans feminist legacy.

    • Recent article: Entering the Archive of Second-Wave Trans Feminist Print Culture: The Journal of Male Feminism

      Common stories of second-wave feminism equate the period either explicitly or by reference to its presumed biological essentialism, with trans-exclusionary feminism. This article deep-dives into issues published between 1977 and 1979 of the Journal of Male Feminism, an underground newsletter for a predominantly North American-based male-to-female (M-T-F) cross-dressing community. It argues that these texts contain a rich set of theoretical resources and nuanced perspectives on sex and gender developed by trans people in the 1970s and therefore deserve to be read as part of an expanded canon of second-wave feminism.

    Office hours

    Weds-Fri by appointment


    • PhD Philosophy , Oxford Brookes University , 2020
    • MA Women's Studies, University of Oxford , 2014
    • BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Oxford , 2013

    Web profiles

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Convenor, MA/MSc Gender and Sexuality


  • Research


    Research Centres and Institutes

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    Teaching modules

    • MA/MSc Gender Studies dissertation (FDGD008D7)
    • Theorising Gender (FDGD009S7)
    • Queer Histories/Queer Cultures (FDGD012S7)
    • Approaching the Past (HICL200S4)
  • Business and community

    Business and community



    Feminist Print Cultures: Creating Community and Consciousness. 

    A day-long workshop exploring the past and present of queer and feminist print cultures, with keynotes from Julie Enszer and Nat Raha.

    4th March 2023