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Critique Essay Humanities Nonfiction

Tranarchism: transgender embodiment and destabilization of the state

By Elis L. Herman, 2015

Transgender, in the simplest sense, is an umbrella term for individuals whose gender identities and/or expressions of those identities fall outside of binary sex/ gender identification norms. Though some anarchists live gender-transgressive lives, and some transgender people would call themselves anarchists, literature formally connecting the two modes of being is scarce. Much existing anarchist literature discussing issues of transgender identity attempts to determine whether gender non-conformity itself is inherently anarchic. The state dictates that gender is a necessary means of categorization in order to classify and manage people. Gender transgressors, in undermining a fundamental tool of the state, must then be acting anarchically. I argue, however, that imbuing trans identification with innate anarchic meanings is problematic. As anarchism itself can be manifested and lived in a myriad of highly variant, even contradictory, ways, gender subver- sion acts as a tool, rather than embodiment, of anarchy. This study uses queer, anarcha-feminist, and post-structuralist frameworks to examine gender transgres- sion as a means of destabilizing the state by challenging state reliance on binary gender classifications. By understanding how transgender people who often interact with state authority for survival and legitimization posses the power to undermine it, anarchism can both empower and be empowered by the movement for gender justice.

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