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Carla A. Pfeffer

Director, Consortium for Sexual and Gender Minority Health, and Associate Professor of Social Work, Michigan State University
Chapter Member: Michigan SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Carla

Dr. Pfeffer's research focuses on LGBTQIA+ individuals, families, health, and social equity. Overarching themes in Dr. Pfeffer's writings include critical inquiry into bodies considered marginal and social actors’ management of stigma and discrimination processes. Dr. Pfeffer is a sociologist who serves the Director of the Consortium for Sexual and Gender Minority Health in the School of Social Work at Michigan State University.

In the News

Carla A. Pfeffer quoted by Mark Peters, "Leveling the Field Between Trans and Cis" Boston Globe, January 12, 2018.
"Queering the Familiar: Genealogy of a Book and its Cover," Carla A. Pfeffer, Gender & Society Blog, January 9, 2018.
Carla A. Pfeffer's research on the sociological implications of fatness and sexuality discussed by Charlotte Morabito, "Coming Out as Queer is Even More Complicated for a Fat Person," Huffington Post, August 18, 2016.
"(Trans)Gender Culture Clashes: Social Recognition and Determining the ‘Real’," Carla A. Pfeffer, Gender & Society Blog, August 20, 2014.


Queering Families: The Postmodern Partnerships of Cisgender Women and Transgender Men (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Represents the largest, most geographically comprehensive, in-depth interview study conducted with the cisgender women partners of transgender men to date. Discusses marriage, family, LGBT communities, gender, sexualities, sociology, and qualitative methods. 

"Beliefs about the Etiology of Homosexuality and about the Ramifications of Discovering Its Possible Genetic Origin" (with Jane P. Sheldon, Elizabeth M. Petty, Merle Feldbaum, and and Toby E. Jayaratne). Journal of Homosexuality 52 (2007): 111-150.

Considers whether or not proving that homosexuality is genetic may influence support for lesbian and gay people. Challenges the notion that “born this way” formulations of sexual identity always result in more accepting attitudes toward lesbians and gay men.

"‘I Don’t Like Passing as a Straight Woman’: Queer Negotiations of Identity and Social Group Membership" American Journal of Sociology 120, no. 1 (2014): 1-44.

Challenges the notion that LGBT group membership is solely biological and that LGBT people would never choose to be LGBT. Suggests that human rights should not be predicated on biological vs. choice-based determinations of group membership.

"‘Women’s Work?’: Women Partners of Transgender Men Doing Housework and Emotion Work" Journal of Marriage and Family 72, no. 1 (2010): 165-183.

Discusses the types of household and emotional labor performed by the partners of transgender people, expanding scholarship on LGBT families and family life.

"Making Space for Trans Sexualities" Journal of Homosexuality 61, no. 5 (2014): 597-604.

Discusses the importance of expanding scholarship on the sexualities and sexual behavior of those who are transgender-identified and their partners in order to counter common misperceptions and confusion between sex, gender, sexuality, and sexual behavior.

"Bodies in Relation – Bodies in Transition: Lesbian Partners of Trans Men and Body Image" Journal of Lesbian Studies 12, no. 4 (2008): 325-345.

Considers how a transgender partner’s body image and gender-related body dysphoria may affect a romantic partner’s body image and impact intimacy between partners.

"Normative Resistance and Inventive Pragmatism: Negotiating Structure and Agency in Transgender Families" Gender & Society 26, no. 4 (2012): 574-602.

Identifies the social processes by which the partners of transgender people access regulated social recognition, services, and institutions on behalf of themselves, their partners, and their families.