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Critique Essay History Humanities Law/Legal Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Cautious Living

By Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton, 2017

We are living in a time of trans visibility. Yet we are also living in a time of anti-trans violence. Tese entwined proclamations—lived in the flesh—frame the conversations, interventions, analyses, and other modes of knowing that are captured in Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility. Consequently, we come to this project with a deep sense of possibility that also exists in an interval of anxiety. All three of us, in different yet sometimes overlapping capacities, and via different yet sometimes overlapping self-identifications, utilize and are imbricated in the production, presentation, and circulation of visual culture. At the same time, we know that when produced within the cosmology of racial capitalism, the promise of “positive representation” ultimately gives little support or protection to many, if not most, trans and gender nonconforming people, particularly those who are low-income and/or of color—the very people whose lives and labor constitute the ground for the figuration of this moment of visibility. This is the trap of the visual: it offers—or, more accurately, it is frequently offered to us as—the primary path through which trans people might have access to livable lives.

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