This paper considers two critiques of how law and rights struggles co-opt social movements and applies them to the example of the emergent law reforms in the area of transgender rights. First, it considers the limitations of the discrimination principle. Second, it looks at the emergent critique of “nonprofitization.” Examining how the focus on formal legal equality and the growth of non-profit formations that centralize the concerns and experiences of white and upper class people have impacted gay and lesbian rights work, the paper suggests that these avenues present dangers to creating meaningful transformation of conditions facing trans population, including poverty and criminalization. This paper is an edited version of keynote remarks presented at a symposium.
By Dean Spade, 2016