Crossing Gender, Fantasizing Bodies

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Gay & Lesbian, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-12-28 21:55Z by Steven

Crossing Gender, Fantasizing Bodies

Transgender Studies Quarterly
Volume 2, Number 4, November 2015
pages 717-719
DOI: 10.1215/23289252-3151664

Michael Davidson, Professor Emeritus of American Literature; Distinguished Professor
University of California, San Diego

Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race. Ellen Samuels. New York: New York University Press, 2014. 263 pp.

Ellen Samuels’ Fantasies of Identification is about attempts since the mid-nineteenth century to establish legal identity on some scientific, empirical basis as part of a national, biopolitical imperative. In this regard, the book contributes to the intersection of US literary history, disability, gender, queer, and critical race studies. Samuels chronicles a range of methods that were developed to regularize identity and naturalize the belief that identity could be read on the body. Examples include finger printing, the infamous one-drop rule for persons of African descent, current DNA testing for disabilities, blood quantum rules to establish Native American tribal identity, and myriad techniques of sex testing to verify legal gender within binary frameworks. Samuels observes that every attempt to ground identity in blood, genes, or appearance founders on the unstable nature of the very categories it hopes to stabilize: race, sex, gender, and ability. This instability is often produced by the imbricated relationship among such categories, and Samuels argues that disability is an always-present modality by and against which race, class, sex, and gender are read. Certifiable identity categories are, as her title indicates, “fantasies” produced by institutions wanting to secure populations in strict categories for the purposes of juridical, economic, and cultural control. But since these protocols are fantastic—a “thing we not only imagine but desire to be true” (6)—they are also subject to deformation, appropriation, and carnivalization by the…

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From Multiracial to Transgender? Assessing Attitudes toward Expanding Gender Options on the US Census

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-10-14 15:54Z by Steven

From Multiracial to Transgender? Assessing Attitudes toward Expanding Gender Options on the US Census

Transgender Studies Quarterly
Volume 2, Number 1, February 2015
pages 77-100
DOI: 10.1215/23289252-2848895

Kristen Schilt, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Jenifer Bratter, Associate Professor of Sociology
Rice University, Houston, Texas

In 2000, the US Census Bureau acknowledged multiracial Americans on the decennial census in an attempt to better capture racial heterogeneity and to more closely align what is publicly collected on forms with people’s personal understandings of their racial identity. In this article, we start a discussion of how the census—a major source of political identity recognition and legitimation—could be more inclusive of gender variance. We ask: (1) Is there support for a transgender category on the US census? (2) Who might select a transgender option if it were provided? To answer these questions, we conducted questionnaire research at three transgender and genderqueer conferences and found strong support for the inclusion of a transgender category. Conversely, we found that many people did not currently check “transgender” on forms when given the opportunity. As we show, the decision to check “transgender” varies by what we term gender identity validation. In other words, people who identified as male or female and who felt others viewed them as unequivocally male or female, respectively, were less likely to check “transgender” than people who identified as transgender or who experienced a discrepancy between their self-perceived and other-perceived gender identity. These differences suggest that—similar to the push for adding a multiracial category to the census—the expansion of sex/gender categories is most likely to come from individuals who experience themselves as constrained by the existing possibilities and/or who are stigmatized by others’ conceptions of the appropriate alignment of bodies and genders.

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