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Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Unlearning gender–Toward a critical communication trans pedagogy

By Benny LeMaster and Amber L Johnson, 2019

Gender eludes definition. Thus, to teach gender is to work with and against the ineffable, the uncertain, and the particular. Gender is ineffable because it is far too expansive a cul- tural and personal phenomenon to grasp with any meaningful complexity. Gender is uncertain because it is animated in the liminal space between identification and interp- olation or between self and/as other. Gender is particular in the sense that gender is ren- dered legible exclusively through competing ideological discourses that attempt to contain the ineffable and the uncertain despite their elusiveness. In short, teaching gender is necessarily complicated. Teaching gender that affirms transgender and transsexual1 sub- jects (henceforth “trans subjects” unless specificity demands otherwise) provides a unique set of challenges. These challenges include at minimum (1) mass-mediated representations and (2) the institutionalization of trans studies coupled with liberal inclusionary gestures.

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