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Critique Essay Humanities Law/Legal Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

The Self-Made Trans Man as Risky Business: A Critical Examination of Gaining Recognition For Trans Rights Through Economic Discourse

By Dan Irving, 2008

Representation of self and community are significant issues for many marginalized individuals. This is certainly the case for female-to-male (FTM) transsexuals,’ whose struggles for sex/gender self-determination are politicized on various terrains. In politically progressive spaces, it is accepted that the freedom for trans people to choose to live according to our sex/gender self-identification is a crucial right. This is especially true given the systemic erasure of sex and gender variance and the pathologization, vilification, and criminalization of transsexual identities. In this Article, I seek to reframe debates concerning transsexual selfdetermination by redirecting the focus away from whether or not sex/gender variant individuals ought to be extended this right. Framing the discussion in terms of affirming or negating individual rights to self-determination distracts from critical dialogue concerning governing relations embedded within current conceptions of self-determination. As a way to enrich understanding of transgendered rights and the best strategies with which to attain them, scholars and activists must direct attention towards the ways that requirements for social recognition are embedded within human rights paradigms. Negotiated in the present context of neoliberal democracy, trans individuals must demonstrate themselves to be deserving ofrights to self-determination to garner public support. This is often accomplished through engaging in “hegemonic bargains” with others located in more privileged echelons of society.2 Mistrusted for their non-normative sex and gender, trans individuals and communities buttress their rights claims by emphasizing their inclusion within normative class, race, and nationalist categories.’

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