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Critique Essay Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Trans governmentality: the production and regulation of gendered subjectivities

By Tam Sanger, 2008

Feminist theorists have long critiqued the hierarchical gender division inherent in Western societies, with the inequalities resulting from this divide being widely decried and some progress made in reducing these. Despite increased efforts to theorise trans identification in recent times, gender is still largely understood, both culturally and theoretically, as adhering to the dualism of male/female. I argue within this paper that consideration of the narratives of transpeople and their partners could expand our conceptualisation of gender and offers possible points of resistance from which to challenge the gender binary, thereby destabilising hegemonic discourses of gender. As such I explore the narratives of transpeople and their partners in relation to the construction and reconstruction of gendered subjectivities. Transpeople’s intimate partnerships, considered here due to the critique of gender norms often evident within them, are examined through the theoretical lens of Foucault’s notion of governmentality. This paper offers an example of how governmentality can be a useful tool in the effort to understand gender regulation, not least for those apparently on the margins of ‘normality’. —Abstract of article

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