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Critique Essay Humanities Law/Legal Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Transgender Issues and the Law

By Dean Spade, 2010

This year, scholars and activists are marking the twentieth anniversary of “the enunciation and analysis of ‘intersectionality’ by legal theorist Kimberle W. Crenshaw.” The early 1990s also saw the emergence of some important galvanizing texts in what would come to be identified as trans studies and trans politics, especially Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues and Kate Bomstein’s Gender Outlaw. Reflecting on the cluster of trans studies writings gathered by the Seattle Journal for Social Justice in this issue, I am struck by how these two trajectories of critical engagement have generated the conversations and controversies that are central to trans politics today. The writings in this cluster come from some of the most significant leaders in trans politics, law, and scholarship working in the United States and Canada. Their pieces raise issues analyzing the cutting¬≠ edge questions, strategies, and issues that people like Crenshaw, Feinberg, and Bornstein brought to the fore in their own ways two decades ager-¬≠ issues that social movements have toiled with for much longer and that are at the forefront of trans politics today. The writings in this cluster delve into the ways that gender operates as a vector of regulation and distribution and describe a coercive system that orders the world through violence. They raise questions about the implications of resistance to violence, the limitations of law reform as an intervention, and the creation of trans politics centered in racial and economic justice.

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