In response to concerns voiced by Judith Butler and Joan Copjec regarding the possible incompatibility of the discourses of Lacanian psychoanalysis and gender studies, this paper argues that gender studies and Lacanian psychoanalysis can hope for a meeting ground precisely around the topic of “sexual difference.” Questions about transgender subjectivities afford a point of entry for thinking through the impasses and political purchase of a necessarily contestatory integration of these two domains; however, imagining this integration requires in part an analysis of each discourse’s limitations. This paper suggests that one of the limitations of Lacanian psychoanalysis resides in the too easy capitulation of the terms “feminine” and “masculine” to “gendered” readings. Arguing that Jacques Lacan’s formulas of sexuation write against the facile collapse of sexual difference into gender identity, the paper considers what it would look like to conceptualize transgender subjectivity as an expression of the logic of sexual difference, ultimately suggesting there may be a way of reading transgenderism as a “feminine” phenomenon. The paper responds to two texts also invested in the integration of Lacanian psychoanalytic and queer/feminist concerns: Judith Butler’s Antigone’s Claim and Tim Dean’s Beyond Sexuality. Dean’s project to “de-gender” desire offers a reply to Butler’s concerns about the compulsory heterosexuality of the Oedipal scene; however, both texts, in their preoccupation with scenes Oedipal and object based, occlude to some extent a “feminine” perspective and by extension significant “feminine”/transgender insights concerning sexual difference.
By Shanna T. Carlson, 2010