Eric Plemons

Associate Professor of Anthropology

I am a medical anthropologist focused on surgical practice and the production, circulation and application of expert knowledge on gendered bodies. My first book, The Look of a Woman (2017, Duke University Press), examines facial feminization surgery, a series of bone and soft tissue reconstructive surgeries intended to feminize the faces of trans- women. My current projects include multisited ethnographic research investigating how US institutions are responding to a growing demand for trans- healthcare, and a literature-based analysis of how trans- surgical outcomes are studied and clinically assessed. I am also developing a book project on genital injury and rehabilitation. Focused on knowledge and how it moves in the form of embodied and institutional practices, my research has been problem- rather than place-based. Working on expertise as it shapes practices of gender-making medicine, I have conducted ethnographic work in surgical clinics in the US, Northern Europe, and South America. 

My research engages theories of sex and gender, the critical study of science and medicine, political economies of medicine and medical innovation, trans- studies, anthropological theories of practice, and the studies of technology and technique.

I am the Director of the Medical Anthropology Concentration and Certificate Programs, and Co-chair of the UA Transgender Studies Research Cluster. I am a faculty affiliate of the Institute for LGBT Studies, the Department of Gender & Women's Studies, and the Graduate Interdisciplinary Degree Program in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory.

Selected Publications

2019     Not Here: Catholic Hospital Systems and the Restriction Against Transgender Healthcare. CrossCurrents 68(3): 534-550 [DOI:10.1111/cros.12341]

2019     A  Capable Surgeon and a Willing Electrologist: Challenges to the Expansion of Transgender Surgical Care in the United States. Medical  Anthropology Quarterly. [DOI: 10.1111/maq.12484]

2019    Gender, Ethnicity, and Transgender Embodiment: Interrogating Classification in Facial Feminization Surgery. Body & Society 25(1): 3-28.[DOI: 10.1177/1357034X18812942]

2018    With Chris Straayer. Introduction: Reframing the Surgical. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 5(2): 164-173.

2017   The Look of a Woman: Facial feminization surgery and the aims of trans- medicine. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. **Winner of the   2017 Ruth Benedict Book Prize**

2017    Formations of Femininity: science and aesthetics in facial feminization surgery. Medical Anthropology. 36(7): 629-641. [DOI: 10.1080/01459740.2017.1298593]

2017 Jens U. Berli, Luis Capitán, Daniel Simon, Rachel Bluebond-Langner, Eric Plemons, Shane D. Morrison. Facial Gender Confirmation Surgery: Review of the Literature and Recommendations for Version 8 of the WPATH Standards of Care. International Journal of Transgenderism 18(3): 264-270. [DOI: 10.1080/15532739.2017.1302862]

2015   Anatomical Authorities: On the epistemological exclusion of trans- surgical patients. Medical Anthropology. 34(5): 425-441 [DOI:10.1080/01459740.2015.1036264]

2014  Description of Sex Difference as Prescription for Sex Change: On the Origin of Facial Feminization Surgery. Social Studies of Science 44(5): 657-679. [DOI: 10.1177/0306312714531349]

2014   It Is As It Does: Genital Form and Function in Sex Reassignment Surgery. Journal of Medical Humanities 35(1): 37-55 [DOI:10.1007/s10912-013-9267-z]

2013  The Surgical Suite. Journal of Medical Humanities 34(2): 245-247. Invited submission for special issue, Queer In The Clinic [DOI: 10.1007/s10912-013-9227-7]

2010 Envisioning The Body in Relation: finding sex, changing sex.  In The Body Reader: Essential Social and Cultural Readings. Lisa Jean Moore and Mary Kosut, eds. New York: New York University Press. Pp. 317-328. (Collection for undergraduate readers)

Courses Taught

  • ANTH 150 Many Ways of Being Human
  • ANTH 325 Bodies in Medicine
  • ANTH 406 Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality 
  • ANTH 444 Introduction to Medical Anthropology
  • ANTH 536 The Body, Health, and Illness
  • ANTH 608a History of Anthropological Theory
  • ANTH 696B Sex, Gender, Science, Medicine