This paper will specifically address the means by which rights-based approaches to transgender advocacy risk undermining its transformative possibilities and will draw from cross-cultural engagement to suggest alternate ways the legal system might be used to dismantle harmful sex/gender norms. It aims not only to critique the potential deterioration of a long-term reconstructive project but also to suggest one possible strategy for shifting away from status quo affirmations and towards developing a common utopian vision. Wary of past writings about trans people that have been critical of their increasing visibility,6 this article is motivated by a firm belief that valuing trans experiences must be a central characteristic of a more just conceptualization of gender. However, it seeks to emphasize that mainstream anti-discrimination claims on behalf of trans clients fail to engage meaningfully with issues of gender construction in a way that renders gender sufficiently just for all, including trans people.
By Andrew Gilden, 2008