trans- bodies in/of war(s): cisprivilege and contemporary security strategy

Abstract

This article explores a gendered dimension of war and conflict analysis that has up until now received little attention at the intersection of gender studies and studies of global politics: queer bodies in, and genderqueer significations of, war and conflict. In doing so, the article introduces the concept of cisprivilege to International Relations as a discipline and security studies as a core sub-field. Cisprivilege is an important, but under-explored, element of the constitution of gender and conflict. Whether it be in controversial reactions to the suggestion of United Nations Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin that airport screenings for terrorists not discriminate against transgendered people, or in structural violence that is ever-present in the daily lives of many individuals seeking to navigate the heterosexist and cissexist power structures of social and political life, war and conflict is embodied and reifies cissexism. This article makes two inter-related arguments: first, that both the invisibility of genderqueer bodies in historical accounts of warfare and the visibility of genderqueer bodies in contemporary security strategy are forms of discursive violence; and second, that these violences have specific performative functions that can and should be interrogated. After constructing these core arguments, the article explores some of the potential benefits of an interdisciplinary research agenda that moves towards the theorisation of cisprivilege in security theory and practice.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    http://www.src.usyd.edu.au/honisoit/?q=node/450, last accessed 11 November 2010.

  2. 2.

    Also published under Genderbitch 2009, http://recursiveparadox.dreamwidth.org/4359.html, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  3. 3.

    Our understandings of the need to queer IR have come from conversations with Cynthia Weber, who is currently preparing a book-length manuscript on this topic to be published with Oxford University Press.

  4. 4.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/52956435/Civil-rights-complaint-for-LGBT-immigration-detainees, last accessed 11 November 2010.

  5. 5.

    http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Flying_while_butch-9562.aspx, last accessed 11 November 2010.

  6. 6.

    http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2011/03/post-op-transpeople-denied-entry-into.html, last accessed 11 November 2010.

  7. 7.

    http://www.statewatch.org/news/2010/jun/eu-com-body-scanners-com-311-4.pdf, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  8. 8.

    http://transequality.org/Resources/NCTE_Body_Scan.pdf, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  9. 9.

    http://homelandsecuritynewswire.com/more-us-airports-deploy-body-scanners-new-scanners-and-40-existing-ones-used-primary-screening, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  10. 10.

    (n.d.) http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/10/assume-the-position-tsa-begins-new-ball-busting-patdowns.ars, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  11. 11.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm100201/wmstext/100201m0001.htm, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  12. 12.

    http://homelandsecuritynewswire.com/muslim-religious-group-airport-body-scanners-violate-islamic-law, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  13. 13.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8593404.stm, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  14. 14.

    http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/news/2010/january/body-scanning-equipment-concerns-raised/, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  15. 15.

    http://homelandsecuritynewswire.com/children-must-go-through-full-body-scanners-uk-airports, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  16. 16.

    Art. 48, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/4aae4eea0.pdf, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  17. 17.

    http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/press_release_0238.shtm, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  18. 18.

    http://www.juliaserano.com/whippinggirl.html, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  19. 19.

    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/55739, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  20. 20.

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/01/18/privacy-warning-over-trans-people-using-airport-scanners/, last accessed 2 November 2010.

  21. 21.

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Acknowledgements

Both authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and to the Feminist Review Collective for their thoughtful engagement with this article. Laura Sjoberg would like to thank her mother, Marie Sjoberg, for inspiring her to work in this area. Laura Shepherd thanks Laura Sjoberg for inviting her to participate in this endeavour and Cai Wilkinson at the University of Birmingham for the opportunity to discuss the ideas and the ethico-political issues raised in this article at some length.

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Shepherd, L., Sjoberg, L. trans- bodies in/of war(s): cisprivilege and contemporary security strategy. Fem Rev 101, 5–23 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1057/fr.2011.53

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Keywords

  • gender
  • queer
  • war
  • cisprivilege
  • violence
  • security