Advertisement

Seeking refuge under the umbrella: Inclusion, exclusion, and organizing within the category Transgender

  • Megan Davidson
Special Issue Article

Abstract

The category transgender has no singular, fixed meaning. Rather, it is inclusive of identities and experiences of sex and gender variance, changing, and blending. Although no consensus exists about exactly whom this category includes, nearly all definitions share the use of a metaphorical umbrella, which activists agree is a useful tool for political organizing outside current understandings of binary sex and gender divisions. This article details activists’ definitions of transgender and the identities covered by this umbrella to inform an analysis of how different understandings of transgenderframe activists’ efforts for social change. From transsexual separatists, intersex activists, and genderqueer youth to trans-gender activists, gender rights advocates, and others organizing within the category transgender, the author ethnographically evidences the political implications of inclusion and exclusion in terms of assimilation, social privilege, activist strategies, rights claims and policy changes, and the visions of social change forwarded by trans activists.

Key words

activism contentious politics genderqueer intersex social change social movement transsexual 

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Benjamin, H. (1966). The transsexual phenomenon. New York: Julian Press.Google Scholar
  3. Blee, K. M., & Taylor, V. (2002). Semi-structured interviewing in social movement research. In B. Klandermans & S. Straggenborg (Eds.), Methods of social movement research (pp. 92–117). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bolin, A. (1988). In search of Eve: Transsexual rites of passage. Westport, CN: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  5. Bornstein, K. (1994). Gender outlaw: On men, women, and the rest of us. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Bornstein, K. (1998). My gender workbook. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Burdick, J. (1995). Uniting theory and practice in the ethnography of social movements: Notes towards a hopeful realism. Dialectical Anthropology, 20, 361–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burdick, J. (1998). Blessed Anastácia: Women, race, and popular Christianity in Brazil. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Butler, J. (1999). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Califia, P. (1997). Sex changes: The politics of transgenderism. San Francisco: Cleis Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cartwright, D. (2001). Whither GPAC? Reflections at my time of resignation. Transgender Tapestry, 93, 56–58.Google Scholar
  12. Crenshaw, K. (2003). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. In L. M. Alcoff & E. Mendieta (Eds.), Identities: Race, class, gender, and nationality (pp. 175–200). Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. Currah, P. (2003). The transgender rights imaginary. Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, 4, 705–720.Google Scholar
  14. Currah, P. (2006). Gender pluralisms under the trans-gender umbrella. In P. Currah, R. M. Juang, & S. P. Mintor (Eds.), Transgender rights (pp. 3–31). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  15. Denny, D. (2001). We’re from GenderPAC, we’re here to help you. Transgender Tapestry, 93, 13–15.Google Scholar
  16. Diamond, M. (2004, October 24). Changing concepts of gender development. Lecture presented at the annual Fantasia Fair, Provincetown, MA.Google Scholar
  17. Edelman, M. (2001). Social movements: Changing paradigms and forms of politics. Annual Review of Anthropology, 30, 205–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ekins, R., & King, D. (2006). Virginia Prince: Pioneer of transgendering. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.Google Scholar
  19. Escobar, A. (1992). Culture, practice, and politics: Anthropology and the study of social movements. Critique of Anthropology, 12, 395–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Feinberg, L. (1998). Trans liberation: Beyond pink or blue. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  21. Gupta, A., & Ferguson, J. (1997). Culture, power, place: Ethnography at the end of an era. In A. Gupta & J. Ferguson (Eds.), Culture, power, place: Explorations in critical anthropology (pp. 1–3). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Highleyman, L. (2002). Radical queers or queer radicals? Queer activism and the global justice movement. In B. Shepard & R. Hayduk (Eds.), ACT-UP to the WTO: Urbanprotest and community building in the era of globalization (pp. 106–119). New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  23. Howe, A. C. (2001). Queer pilgrimage: The San Francisco homeland and identity tourism. Cultural Anthropology, 16, 35–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. MacKenzie, G. O. (1994). Transgender nation. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press.Google Scholar
  25. Mattilda aka M. Bernstein Sycamore. (2004). Breaking glass. In M. Bernstein Sycamore (Ed.), That’s revolting! Queer strategies for resisting assimilation (pp. 1–8). Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press.Google Scholar
  26. Meyerowitz, J. (2002). How sex changed: A history of transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Mishler, E. G. (1986). Research interviewing: Context and narrative. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  28. More, K. (1999). Introduction 2. In K. More & S. Whittle (Eds.), Reclaiming genders: Transsexual grammars at the Fin de Siécle (pp. 1–5). New York: Cassell.Google Scholar
  29. Mosse, D. (1999). Responding to subordination: The politics of identity change among South Indian untouchable castes. In J. R. Campbell & A. Rew (Eds.), Identity and affect: Experiences of identity in a globalizing world (pp. 64–104). London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  30. Nataf, Z. I. (1996). Lesbians talk transgender. New York: Scarlet Press.Google Scholar
  31. Prince, V. (1997). Seventy years in the trenches of the gender wars. In V. Bullough, B. Bullough, & J. Elias (Eds.), Gender blending (pp. 469–476). New York: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  32. Rew, A., & Campbell, J. R. (1999). The political economy of identity and affect. In J. R. Campbell & A. Rew (Eds.), Identity and affect: Experiences of identity in a globalizing world (pp. 1–36). London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  33. Sokefeld, M. (1999). Debating self, identity, and culture in anthropology. Current Anthropology, 40, 417–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Spade, D. (2004). Fighting to win. In M. Bernstein Sycamore (Ed.), That’s revolting! Queer strategies for resisting assimilation (pp. 31–38). Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press.Google Scholar
  35. Stryker, S. (1998). The transgender issue: An introduction. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 4, 145–158.Google Scholar
  36. Vaid, U. (1995). Virtual equality: The mainstreaming of gay and lesbian liberation. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  37. Valentine, D. (2000). “I know what I am”: The category “transgender” in the construction of contemporary U.S. American conceptions of gender and sexuality. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, New York University.Google Scholar
  38. Valentine, D. (2004). “The calculus of pain”: Violence, anthropological ethics, and the category transgender. In M. Fishman & M. Checker (Eds.), Local actions: Cultural activism, power and public life in America (pp. 89–110). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Valentine, D. (2007). Imagining transgender: An ethnography of a category. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Weston, K. (1997). Families we choose: Lesbians, gays, kinship (Rev. ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Whittle, S. (1996). Gender fuck or fucking gender? Current cultural contributions to theories of gender bending. In R. Ekins & D. King (Eds.), Blending genders (pp. 196–214). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Wilchins, R. A. (1997). Read my lips: Sexual subversion and the end of gender. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books.Google Scholar
  43. Wilchins, R. A. (2004). Queer theory, gender theory: An instant primer. New York: Alyson Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyBinghamton University/SUNYBrooklyn

Personalised recommendations