A trope I would like to wave goodbye to…

May 15, 2012 § 8 Comments

…is the one of academic/philosophical discourses around sex, gender and trans issues being incompatible with an ‘authentic’ experience of living as a trans person and all that that entails – bodily dysphoria, abuse and harassment, the struggle to obtain adequate healthcare etc.


Enjoying and critiquing the works of Butler doesn’t mean you can’t have sobbed over just how wrong your body feels. Taking a multidisciplinary approach to trans activism doesn’t mean you haven’t been assaulted in the street. Approaching gender as an historical artifact doesn’t negate yours or anybody else’s gender. You can understand the myth of the binary gender system and still be a man or a woman – or anybody else. It isn’t a struggle between two opposing viewpoints, and shouldn’t be misinterpreted as such. Because someone enjoys and works with the traditional of critical thought on sex and gender isn’t an invitation to assume that their lives have been free of transphobia and dysphoria.


Sometimes we have to accept that there is more than ‘either/or’ – because sometimes it’s ‘and’ ‘and’ ‘and’ ‘and’ ‘and’.

§ 8 Responses to A trope I would like to wave goodbye to…

  • Cathy Butler says:

    Ah, but CN, it’s only cis men and women who are able to critique the binary system without calling into question the authenticity of their own gender (performance). If you’re trans, then you’re tasked with the extra responsibility of subverting the gender binary at every single moment. Because, you know, trans people have it too easy otherwise.

  • J McK says:


  • Have you read Gayle Salamon’s ‘Assuming a Body?’. She makes a similar point about the intersection of theory and the way we experience gender/ bodily existence. Whoever thinks that discourse has no effect on how they produce their own relation to/ embodiment of gender is…well, wrong. Indeed, gender is fundamentally the product of that discourse. And theory is just a form of critical discourse, is it not? Which makes an intervention into those discourses of the body/ experience that we hold to be purely personal or physical. Also, reading is an experience in itself…So, yeah, abso-fucking-lutement.

  • By which I meant, abso-fucking- lument. Whoops.

  • […] CN Lester again, with a tonne of amazing links: on ‘academic’ and ‘authentic’ understandings of oneself not being incompatible; on how appearance does not constitute identity; on dyadic terms being counterproductive; and since […]

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