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Art Essay History Humanities Nonfiction Theory

The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto

By Sandy Stone, 1987

“The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto” is a 1987 essay written by Sandy Stone. Stone’s essay is considered to be the founding text of transgender studies in academia, with other critical transgender works emerging after it. The essay examines how transgender women have historically been viewed, studied, and treated by the western medical establishment. In the essay, Stone critiques medical research and theory that deem transgender individuals too illogical or damaged to represent themselves, as well as the institution of passing and its role in the reproduction of binary gender and sexist norms. Stone argues that these social phenomena have precluded transgender individuals from participating in their own discourse, and bear negative psychic, social, and political consequences. In response, she proposes the formation of a counter-discourse that disrupts binary understandings of gender, thereby allowing transgender individuals to speak as transgender subjects.

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