Carla A. Pfeffer

Carla A.  Pfeffer
  • Professor | Department Chair
  • Department of Sociology
  • PhD, University of Michigan, 2009
  • 509 E. Circle Drive
  • Berkey 317
  • East Lansing MI 48824
  • (517) 353-6790


Carla A. Pfeffer completed her PhD in Sociology, Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies, and MSW in Social Policy and Evaluation at the University of Michigan, where she received interdisciplinary, multi-method training in the social sciences and humanities. In previous faculty positions, she served as Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of South Carolina and as inaugural Director of the Consortium for Sexual and Gender Minority Health At Michigan State University. She is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Core Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Gender in Global Context, a Community-Engaged Research Fellow, and a Big Ten Academic Alliance Leadership Fellow at MSU. She is Editor-in-Chief of Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society and Chair-Elect of the section on Sex and Gender of the American Sociological Association. Previously, she served as elected Chair of the section on Sexualities and Secretary-Treasurer of the section on Body and Embodiment.


Dr. Pfeffer’s research is at the intersection of critical inquiry into contemporary families, genders, health, sexualities, and bodies considered marginal, as well as social actors’ management of stigma and discrimination processes. Her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and American Council of Learned Societies. Her book, Queering Families: The Postmodern Partnerships of Cisgender Women and Transgender Men was published by Oxford University Press (2017). Her scholarship has been published in dozens of peer-reviewed journals, books, and encyclopedias, featured in news media such as Boston Globe, The Conversation, NBC News, New York Times, Huffington Post, Salon, and Washington Post, and received awards from the National Council on Family Relations and the American Sociological Association sections on Sex and Gender and Sexualities.


Dr. Pfeffer has taught undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on: race, class, gender, and sexualities; sex, gender, and society; body and embodiment; the family; LGBTQIA+ identities; social problems; feminist theory, methods, and epistemologies; and qualitative methods. She’s served as an invited reviewer for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Health Research Council of New Zealand, National Science Centre of Poland, Austrian Science Fund, American Council of Learned Societies, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, more than eighty journals and academic presses, and on the editorial boards of Fat Studies, Gender & Society, International Journal of Transgender Health, Journal of Homosexuality, Journal of Marriage and Family, Michigan Feminist Studies, Social Sciences, Sociological Forum, and Socius. In her local community, Dr. Pfeffer serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Team for Haslett Public Schools.

Curriculum Vitae

Carla A. Pfeffer


Consortium for Sexual and Gender Minority Health

Center for Gender in Global Context



Hines, Sally, White, Francis R., Pearce, Ruth, Pfeffer, Carla A., & Riggs, Damien W. (forthcoming). “Embodied Experiences of Trans Pregnancy.” Body & Society.


Pearce, Ruth, Pfeffer, Carla A., Riggs, Damien W., Hines, Sally, and White, Francis Ray. (forthcoming). “Understanding and Preventing Domestic Violence Against Trans People: Insights from a Study with Trans Birth Parents.” Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies.


**Sheppard, Anna, Mann, Emily S., & Pfeffer, Carla A. (forthcoming). “‘Your Brain Isn’t All Backwards’: Asexual Young Women’s Narratives of Sexual Healthism.” The Qualitative Report.


Pfeffer, Carla A. (2024). A platonic love letter, long in the making, to Dr. Esther Rothblum: Reflections on “scholarly friends” and the importance of fat, lesbian, feminist leadership in the academy. Fat Studies, 13(1).


Pearce, Ruth, Hines, Sally, Pfeffer, Carla A., Riggs, Damien W., Ruspini, Elisabetta, and White, Francis R. (2023). “Giving Birth as a Father: Experiences of Trans Birthing Parents.” In Jules Gill-Peterson (Ed.), The Conversation on Gender Diversity (chapter 30). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Pfeffer, Carla A., Hines, Sally, Pearce, Ruth, Riggs, Damien W., Ruspini, Elisabetta, and White, Francis Ray. (2023). “Medical Uncertainty and Reproduction of the ‘Normal’: Decision-Making around Testosterone Therapy in Transgender Pregnancy.” SSM – Qualitative Research in Health, 4.   


Riggs, Damien W., Hines, Sally, Pearce, Ruth, Pfeffer, Carla A., & White, Francis R. (2023). “Spunkles’, Uncles, and Fathers:  Transmasculine People’s Accounts of Sperm Donors and Their Relationships to Children.” In Fiona Kelly, Deborah Dempsey, & Adrienne Byrt (eds.), Donor-linked Families in the Digital Age: Relatedness and Regulation (chapter 11). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Riggs, Damien W., Pearce, Ruth, Hines, Sally, Pfeffer, Carla A., and White, Francis Ray. (2023). “Whiteness in Research on Trans/Masculine and Non-Binary People and Reproduction: Two Parallel Stories.” In Rikke Andreassen, Catrin Lundström, Suvi Keskinen, and Shirley Anne Tate (eds)., The Routledge International Handbook of New Critical Race and Whiteness Studies (pp. 339-349). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.


Riggs, Damien W., Pfeffer, Carla A., White, Francis R., Hines, S., & Pearce, R. (2022). “Young Men, Trans/Masculine, and Non-Binary People’s Views About Pregnancy.” In Jane Ussher (ed.), Trans Reproductive and Sexual Health: Justice, Embodiment and Agency (pp. 156-174). New York: Routledge.


Pfeffer, Carla A. “Fat Activism and Beauty Politics.” (2021). In Maxine B. Craig (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Beauty Politics (pp. 167-175). New York: Routledge Companion.


Riggs, Damien W., Pfeffer, Carla A., Pearce, Ruth, Hines, Sally, and White, Francis Ray. (2021).“Men, Trans/Masculine, and Non-Binary People Negotiating Conception: Normative Resistance and Inventive Pragmatism.” International Journal of Transgender Health, 22(1-2):6-17.


Riggs, Damien, Pearce, Ruth, Pfeffer, Carla A., Hines, Sally, White, Francis Ray, and Ruspini, Elisabetta. (2019). “Transnormativity in the Psy Disciplines: Constructing Pathology in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and Standards of Care.” American Psychologist, 74(8):912-924.


Santos, Theo, Mann, Emily, and Pfeffer, Carla A. (2019). “Are University Health Services Meeting the Needs of Transgender College Students? A Qualitative Assessment of a Public University.” Journal of American College Health, 69(1):59-66.


Pfeffer, Carla A. (2017). Queering Families: The Postmodern Partnerships of Cisgender Women and Transgender Men. New York: Oxford University Press.


Augustine, Jennifer March, Aveldanes, Jose Martin, and Pfeffer, Carla A. (2017). “Are the Parents Alright? Time in Self-Care in Same-Sex and Different-Sex Two-Parent Families with Children.” Population Review 56(2):49-77.


Scherrer, Kristin, and Pfeffer, Carla A. (2017). “None of the Above: Toward Identity and Community-Based Understandings of (A)sexualities.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 46(3):643-646.


Pfeffer, Carla A., Rogalin, Christabel L, and **Gee, Cari A. (2016) “Masculinities through a Cross-Disciplinary Lens: Lessons from Sociology and Psychology.” Sociology Compass 10(8):652-672.


Pfeffer, Carla A. (2014). “‘I Don’t Like Passing as a Straight Woman’: Queer Negotiations of Identity and Social Group Membership.” American Journal of Sociology 120(1):1-44.


Pfeffer, Carla A. (2012). “Normative Resistance and Inventive Pragmatism: Negotiating Structure and Agency in Transgender Families.” Gender & Society 26(4):574-602.


Pfeffer, Carla A. (2010). “‘Women’s Work?’: Women Partners of Transgender Men Doing Housework and Emotion Work.” Journal of Marriage and Family 72(1):165-183.