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What is Beauty: De-constructing the Politics & Pathologies of Beauty in the 21st Century

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This conversation will seek to reimagine the constructs of beauty beyond the binary, while challenging an archaic and dangerous narrative of beauty, rooted in eugenics, that has been used to pathologize and criminalize communities—especially queer & trans, intersex, sex workers, migrants and refugees, and people with disabilities. Featuring movement organizers and culture changemakers Patty Berne of Sins Invalid, Alok V. Menon author of Beyond the Gender Binary, and Sean Saifa Wall of the Intersex Justice Project—with Kareem Khubchandani, author of “Ishtyle; Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife,” as the moderator.


  • Dr. Kareem Khubchandani

    Kareem Khubchandani (any pronouns) is the Mellon Bridge assistant professor in theater, dance, and performance studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife (University of Michigan Press, 2020), which won the 2021 Association for Theatre in Higher Education Outstanding Book award and the 2019 CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies Fellowship. Kareem is also co-editor of Queer Nightlife (University of Michigan Press, 2021) and curator of criticalauntystudies.com.

  • Sean Saifa Wall

    Sean Saifa Wall is an intersex activist and rising scholar who believes that another world is possible. He is also the co-founder of the Intersex Justice Project, which is committed to ending harm perpetuated by the medical establishment against intersex children and young adults.
  • Mx. Alok Vaid-Menon

    ALOK is an internationally acclaimed gender non-conforming writing and performance artist.

  • Patty Berne

    Patty Berne (they/she) is the Co-Founder, Executive and Artistic Director of Sins Invalid. Berne’s training in clinical psychology focused on trauma and healing for survivors of interpersonal and state violence. Their professional background includes advocacy for immigrants who seek asylum due to war and torture; community organizing within the Haitian diaspora; international support work for the Guatemalan democratic movement; work with incarcerated youth toward alternatives to the criminal legal system; offering mental health support to survivors of violence; and advocating for LGBTQI and disability perspectives within the field of reproductive genetic technologies. Berne’s experiences as a Japanese-Haitian queer disabled woman provides grounding for her work creating “liberated zones” for marginalized voices. Berne was awarded the Disability Futures Fellowship in 2020 and they are widely recognized for their work to establish the framework and practice of disability justice.