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Critique Essay Humanities Law/Legal Nonfiction

Keynote Address: Trans Law & Politics on a Neoliberal Landscape

By Dean Spade, 2009

“Over the last couple years, I have been thinking about how issues of administrative governance relate to the obstacles in trans people’s lives. I have been particularly interested in putting the administrative barriers in trans lives in the context of other areas of administrative governance that are important right now. For example, I have examined the barriers trans people face in identity verification systems in relation to the drastic changes in administrative policy undertaken as part of the “War on Terror.” These policy changes primarily target immigrants but have altered systems that impact the entire U.S. population, such as drivers’ licensing and other identity documentation and government data collection systems.1 I have also looked at the administrative elements of our massive and monstrous criminal punishment system. The U.S. now imprisons one in a hundred people, and even though we comprise only five percent of the world’s population, we imprison twenty-four percent of the world’s prisoners.2 The administration of criminal punishment, its use of gender as an administrative category, and its racialized targeting are especially relevant to trans people. I have been thinking about administrative systems and modes of governance as central to what defines key disparities in this political moment and viewing the struggles of trans people to survive through that lens.”

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