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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Amanda Walker-Johnson

Second Advisor

Jen Sandler

Third Advisor

Susan Shaw

Subject Categories

Linguistic Anthropology | Other Geography | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Justice


This dissertation aims to better understand how self-identified trans activists in Atlanta, Georgia find and build community, by using queer and Black feminist community based methodologies such as participant observation, ethnographic interviews, participatory mapping, and auto-ethnography. In particular, I ask 1) How do trans people find and build community, safety, and understanding? 2) How do transgender activists create and enact place making that does not rely on policing and privatization?

To create and maintain safety for wealthy communities in Atlanta, Georgia, systems of policing and privatization are increasing. Although developers, city council members, and legislators promote Atlanta, Georgia as a gay friendly utopia of art and culture, privatization and policing push Black, immigrant, queer, and transgender communities to the fringes of Atlanta geographically, socially, politically, and culturally. This creates a paradox of safety for transgender activists and artists in Atlanta. Faced with transphobia, activists work to build interpersonal and community safety outside of narratives of safety used in privatization and policing.