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Hybrid: Bisexuals, Multiracials, and Other Misfits Under American Law

Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 314
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The United States, and the West in general, has always organized society along bipolar lines. We are either gay or straight, male or female, white or not, disabled or not. In recent years, however, America seems increasingly aware of those who defy such easy categorization. Yet, rather than being welcomed for the challenges that they offer, people living the gap are often ostracized by all the communities to which they might belong. Bisexuals, for instance, are often blamed for spreading AIDS to the heterosexual community and are regarded with suspicion by gays and lesbians. Interracial couples are rendered invisible through monoracial recordkeeping that confronts them at school, at work, and on official documents. In Hybrid, Ruth Colker argues that our bipolar classification system obscures a genuine understanding of the very nature of subordination. Acknowledging that categorization is crucial and unavoidable in a world of practical problems and day-to-day conflicts, Ruth Colker shows how categories can and must be improved for the good of all.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-7219-5
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. ONE Introduction: Living the Gap
    (pp. 1-14)

    Sandra Bern is biologically female and has been married to the same man for nearly three decades, yet disclaims the gender category of “female” and the sexual orientation category of “heterosexual.” She avoids such categories because they presume that she has ordered her gender and choice of sexual partners along the principle of biological sex.¹

    Judy Scales-Trent describes herself as a “white black woman” to emphasize that she transgresses boundaries of race, while also identifying as “black.”² She finds that it makes people, including herself, feel uncomfortable when she moves among the static racial categories of “black” and “white.” Categories,...

  6. TWO A Bi Jurisprudence
    (pp. 15-38)

    “Bisexuality: Not Gay. Not Straight. A New Sexual Identity Emerges” proclaimsNewsweekon its cover. Shunned by heterosexuals and many gays and lesbians alike, bisexuals recently have been “discovered” by the popular media as well as conventional researchers. Nonetheless, the category of bisexuality remains elusive for most adults. Only about 1 percent of the adult population identifies as bisexual. Yet nearly 4 percent acknowledge that they are attracted to people of both sexes.¹

    Bisexual invisibility pigeonholes individuals into gay and straight boxes. A bisexual perspective allows us to ask ourselves who we find attractive and why, rather than to presume...

  7. THREE Sexual Orientation
    (pp. 39-86)

    In a 1981 decision, the South Dakota Supreme Court thought it reasonable to ask Sandra Jacobson to forego a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex. “Concerned parents,” the Court wrote, “in many, many instances have made sacrifices of varying degrees for their children.”¹ The law of sexual orientation routinely gives bisexuals the “choice” of avoiding the negative consequences of the legal system (i.e., loss of custody of children, discharge from the military, imprisonment for sexual conduct) if they will disavow their attraction to people of the same sex and flaunt their attraction to people of the opposite...

  8. FOUR Gender
    (pp. 87-120)

    Sharon Bottoms lost custody of her two-year-old son, Tyler, in part because she had taught him to call her female partner “da da.”¹ Michael Hardwick was arrested for having oral sex with a man rather than a woman.² Jane Doe, who was born anatomically male, was fired from Boeing for wearing “excessively feminine attire”—a pearl necklace.³ In each case, these actions were unsuccessfully challenged in court. The law coerces lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transsexuals, transvestites, and other gender hybrids to stay within the narrow gender roles assigned to their anatomical sex. The price for their hybrid status can be...

  9. FIVE Race
    (pp. 121-162)

    The year 1967 was a watershed in the history of interracial relationships in the United States. In the landmarkLoving v. Virginiadecision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Virginia statute that made it a felony for “any white person [to] intermarry with a colored person, or any colored person [to] intermarry with a white person.”¹

    An interracial babyboom followed the Supreme Court’s decision. Children born to parents of different races² accounted for more than 3 percent of births in 1990, up from 1 percent in 1968.³ Since 1980, the number of interracial married couples has increased from 651,000...

  10. SIX Disability
    (pp. 163-194)

    “Transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders”¹ were excluded from coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in order for the statute to avoid defeat. The definitional fight about which disabilities should be covered by the ADA has had the same moral overtones as the controversies surrounding whether Title VII should cover transsexuals and transvestites. Citing the repugnance of an employer having to tolerate a transvestite wearing a dress, Senator Helms commented from the Senate floor during the ADA debate: “Do we really want to prohibit these private...

  11. SEVEN Bipolar Injustice: The Moral Code
    (pp. 195-232)

    Dr. Jean Jew, an Asian-American woman, is a tenured professor at the University of Iowa College of Medicine.¹ In the 1980s, she was subjected to a relentless campaign of racial and sexual slurs because of her purported relationship with her supervisor, Dr. Terence Williams. Jew was referred to as a “slut,” “bitch,” “whore,” and “chink,” and “lesbian”² and denied promotion to full professor. Williams was forced to step down as Department Chair. Jew brought a Title VII³ claim alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination stemming from the denial of promotion. After a decade of litigation, she prevailed on the merits...

  12. EIGHT Invisible Hybrids under the U.S. Census
    (pp. 233-248)

    The point of this book is not that we should abandon categories. A legal system without categories is impossible, and a society without a legal system invites anarchy. If one thing is clear about American society, it is that it always will be dependent upon a legal system that relies heavily on categories.

    The point of this book is not that categories are inherently harmful and destructive. Categories can be very important to self-identity as well as to political coalition-building. In addition, the formal use of categories within the legal system can provide a foundation of fairness and justice by...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 249-294)
  14. Index
    (pp. 295-300)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)