I am an assistant professor of women’s & gender studies and sociology and coordinator of the LGBTQ studies certificate program at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. I conduct research on queer and transgender family issues in Taiwan and in transnational contexts.
In Queer Kinship and Family Change in Taiwan, Amy Brainer interweaves the narratives of multiple family members, including parents and siblings of her queer and trans informants, to analyze the ways that families navigate their internal differences. The book highlights the importance of new parenting and family discourses and enduring inequalities for queer and heterosexual kin alike.
Brainer’s research takes her from political marches and support group meetings to family dinner tables in cities and small towns across Taiwan. She speaks with parents and siblings who vary in whether and to what extent they have made peace with having a queer or transgender family member, and queer and trans people who vary in what they hope for and expect from their families of origin. Across these diverse life stories, Brainer uses a feminist materialist framework to illuminate struggles for personal and sexual autonomy in the intimate context of family and home.
This work is supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.
Queer Trajectories in Family Based Immigration
A second project investigates how family and sexuality are constructed through processes of migration and citizenship. The project follows queer and trans individuals and couples as they navigate family-based immigration to the United States after the end of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. This research is funded by a Seed Grant from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
To get more information or participate in this study, see http://amybrainer.com/immigration.
As is true for many scholars, my research interests have personal origins. I became interested in global and transnational family issues as a result of my own family history of migration between the US and China. My interest in LGBTQ family issues is rooted in my experience coming out to a close-knit and deeply religious family. Sociology provided me with tools for linking my personal biography to larger cultural and social issues. I find fulfillment as a teacher in sharing these tools with students and supporting student efforts to build a more just and equitable world. Currently I am the faculty advisor to two student organizations, She’s the First and Pride.
When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with my parents and four siblings and with my kittens Bettie and Page. I also like soap operas, burlesque and drag shows, and getting to know Detroit, my new city and home.