In the United States during the 1990s, there emerged a new form of collective political organizing and action around transgender identity. In this essay, the author depicts the dynamics of transgender activism during the mid-1990s based on original research in the form of a postmodern ethnography of transgender activism. Using data from field research, interviews, and observation, the author illustrates the way that transgender activism was characterized by simultaneous claims to a shared transgender quasi-ethnic identity and the complications thereof. In particular, the author details transgender social movement processes of identity—both processes of collective identity construction and deconstruction—demonstrating that transgender politics are not simply identity politics nor deconstructive (queer) politics. Using constructionist social movement literature, the author argues that in sexuality/gender studies we must expand our understanding of identity politics in order to understand the simultaneity of constructions and deconstructions of identity and gender/sexuality movements today.
By K L Broad, 2002