When Grace Lavery joined UC Berkeley’s English department in 2013, she didn’t know that she would become one of the most followed trans scholars in the world on social media and an outspoken advocate for the trans community.
An associate professor of Victorian literature, Lavery first became interested in trans studies after reading the work of George Eliot, a 19th-century writer — born Mary Ann Evans, who went by a masculine pseudonym.
“There was this thread that I couldn’t stop pulling on,” said Lavery. “We know that Eliot was read as a male writer by many, many people and wanted to be read as a male writer. Those things are interesting and important. It was something that I thought very deeply about.”
After reading several unsatisfactory explanations about why Eliot used a masculine pseudonym, Lavery began to do her own scholarly research on the subject and is now one of Berkeley’s experts on trans studies.