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

  • Megan Davidson
Special Issue Article


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 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyBinghamton University/SUNYBrooklyn

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