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Transforming Citizenships

Transforming Citizenships: Transgender Articulations of the Law

Isaac West
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 247
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  • Book Info
    Transforming Citizenships
    Book Description:

    Transforming Citizenshipsengages the performativity of citizenship as it relates to transgender individuals and advocacy groups. Instead of reading the law as a set of self-executing discourses, Isaac West takes up transgender rights claims as performative productions of complex legal subjectivities capable of queering accepted understandings of genders, sexualities, and the normative forces of the law.Drawing on an expansive archive, from the correspondence of a transwoman arrested for using a public bathroom in Los Angeles in 1954 to contemporary lobbying efforts of national transgender advocacy organizations, West advances a rethinking of law as capacious rhetorics of citizenship, justice, equality, and freedom. When approached from this perspective, citizenship can be recuperated from its status as the bad object of queer politics to better understand how legal discourses open up sites for identification across identity categories and enable political activities that escape the analytics of heteronormativity and homonationalism.Isaac Westis Assistant Professor in the Departments of Communication Studies and Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-2687-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Transgender Citizenships
    (pp. 1-36)

    In 2006, during my first summer in Atlanta, Georgia, sex-panicked residents in the gayborhood around Piedmont Park took it upon themselves to intensify their policing efforts and crack down on suspected criminal activities. At just under two hundred acres, Piedmont Park is a stunning green space in a pink haven in a blue city in the red South. The crown jewel of Midtown, it has long been a gathering place for any number of activities, including public sex. Undoubtedly, more than a few of Midtown’s current residents have firsthand knowledge of this history even if they have conveniently forgotten their...

  5. 1 Performative Repertoires of Citizenship
    (pp. 37-60)

    On November 14, 1955, Debbie Mayne, a male-to-female transsexual, started her lunch break with a walk through Los Angeles’s Pershing Square, a popular cruising area for gay men.¹ Dressed in men’s clothing, she entered the men’s bathroom. After exiting the bathroom, Mayne walked across the square and approached G. H. Nelson, a vice officer described in one newspaper account as “an old acquaintance.”² Mayne informed Nelson that she had undergone gender confirmation surgery and stated her intention to start dressing as a woman. Taking Mayne at her word, the vice officer arrested her for “masquerading as a man.”³ Less than...

  6. 2 PISSAR’s Critically Queer and Disabled Politics
    (pp. 61-88)

    For most able-bodied cisgenders, public bathrooms are functional, unremarkable places for eliminating waste.¹ They may be judged to be spacious or cramped, clean or dirty, plush or industrial, but they are generally unreflectively entered, used, and exited as part of one’s everyday routine. These places are not sites of interrogative and self-reflexive thought, at least not about the cultural logics of public bathrooms themselves. One may take the time afforded by this biological necessity to collect one’s thoughts, but public bathrooms typically are a short pit stop as one moves from one task to another. Put simply, for many, public...

  7. 3 INTRAAventions in the Heartland
    (pp. 89-128)

    On January 22, 2004, Bree Hartlage, president of the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA), and John Clower, chair of Indiana Equality (IE), met with the mayor of Bloomington, Indiana, Mark Kruzan, to discuss the amendment of the city’s Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) to include gender identity as a protected class. Despite Hartlage’s and Clower’s efforts to convince Kruzan that gender identity should be explicitly added as a discrete identity category to Bloomington’s HRO, the mayor remained unwilling to endorse an effort to revise the municipal codes.¹ Kruzan’s refusal surprised many, given his previous support for local gay and lesbian...

  8. 4 GENDA Trouble
    (pp. 129-162)

    For better or worse, the struggle for same-sex civil marriage rights continues to dominate the agendas of many LGBT advocacy organizations. A quick glance at the websites, promotional materials, and mailers from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Lambda Legal (LL), and other national organizations reveals the importance of civil marriage campaigns to their mission and fundraising efforts. As we saw in the last chapter, advocates are drawn to this issue for a variety of reasons, and the growing support of national leaders is emboldening same-sex civil marriage advocates to push more quickly and loudly for marriage equality in the United...

  9. 5 In Defense of an Impure Transgender Politics
    (pp. 163-194)

    Up to this point we have engaged how trans people employ legal discourses and redeploy the terms of these rhetorical cultures across a variety of domains. In addition to efforts to gain official state recognition, trans people negotiate the legal regulation of their bodies, the spaces in which they work and live, and others’ understandings of their claims to citizenship. Far from uncritically adopting the normativities undergirding legal discourses, the trans people featured thus far demonstrate a dynamic relationship with these norms as they rework them in their activism and everyday lives. By privileging the law as an everyday practice...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 195-230)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 231-234)
    (pp. 235-235)