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Critique History Humanities Law/Legal Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly Volume 2 (1): Making Transgender Count

By Paisley Currah and Susan Stryker, 2015

Onone hand, one makes trans count (in the sense of having its importance recognized) by counting it(making it visible through quantification). On the other hand, onemakes(i.e., compels) trans countby forcing atypical configurations of identity into categories into which they do not quite fit–theproverbial square peg in a round hole. In this way, theimperative to be countedbecomes another kindof normativizing violence that trans subjects can encounter and hence another problematic to becritically interrogated by the field of transgender studies. The tensions among what to count, whomto count, how to count, why to count, or whether to count or be counted at all are explored in thisissue’s articles. What makes the notion of trans* such a fecund point of departure for work intransgender studies is that the definitional lines of the concept are moving targets. That veryinstability frustrates the project of fixing embodied identities in time and space–a requisiteoperation for the potentially life-enhancing project of counting trans populations and betteraddressing their needs as well as for the necropolitical project of selecting certain members of thepopulation for categorical exclusion as dysgenic. The essays in this issue do not resolve the tensionbetween efforts to refine techniques of governmental reason and strategies of resistance, betweenattempts to sedentarize trans identities and movements that refuse such settling, or betweenuniversalizing imperatives to classify and local demands to reject incorporation into a globalschematics of gender difference organized by male/female, man/woman, cis-/trans-, trans-/homo-,or white/color dichotomies. Some attempt to do both, while all ultimately fall on one side or theother of various problematics. Our goal in curating this issue has been less to gather a collection ofarticles that definitively settle these vexed questions than to stage a conversation in which thestakes of the game are made visible.

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