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Critique Essay Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Im/possibilities of refusing and choosing gender

By Alyosxa Tudor, 2019

Looking from a critical race perspective at Wittig’s lesbian, in this article, I draw two conclusions. First, I suggest that it is actually trans exclusionary lesbians’ own transphobia that makes them cis-gendered. And second, it becomes clear that the politicisation of choosing and refusing gender needs to acknowledge racism’s shaping role in the construction of gender. My approach not only intervenes in transphobic feminisms that are obsessed with simplistic understandings of sexual violence, but also questions rigid cis/trans binaries and rejects accounts of trans/gender that ignore the role of racialisation for the emergence of gender. The main question that I address is: how to conceptualise the complex im/possibilities of refusing and choosing in relation to gender? It is my aim to connect seemingly disparate knowledge productions on genderqueer, trans and other ‘impossible’ genders and sexualities. I am particularly interested in a phenomenon that can be described as ‘lesbian haunting’: the ambivalences one will find in tracing lesbian theory in relation to transing gender. With this, it is my attempt to rethink lesbian, queer and trans feminist approaches on violence, and to investigate the role of sexual violence within broader concepts of violence. More specifically, in order to understand both ‘gender’ and ‘transing gender’ as always already racialised, my approach builds on theories that identify ‘ungendering’ as an effect of normative racial violence (e.g. Spillers, 1987; Lewis, 2017; Snorton, 2017). Keywords: Critical race theory, feminist transphobia, lesbian feminism, postcolonial studies, queer theory, racialisation, sexual violence feminism, transgender studies, ungendering

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