Friday, May 27, 2011

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law: Dean Spade's New Book!! Info from the press here...

webphoto of Dean Spade is by Johanna Breiding, here

To learn a bit more about Dean's forthcoming book, please read this interview, over at Guernica Magazine online.

An excerpt follows:
Guernica: Can you tell me about your forthcoming book?

Dean Spade: Yeah, it’s coming out September 2011 from South End Press. It’s a book that tries to describe what a critical trans politics looks like. We’re in this moment where there’s this gay and lesbian politics that’s really lacking in its racial and economic justice analysis and overly relies on legal reform for its strategy and doesn’t really look at people in dire need today. So this book says, okay, we have the option to focus on hate crime laws and other legal reforms or we can reframe what trans politics is and center economic and racial justice. We can realize that changing the law doesn’t change people’s lives and have an understanding of the limitations of the nonprofit form, the ways in which concentrating leadership in professionals and having nondemocratic models for organizations and movements harms and undermines the transformative change we are seeking. The book lays out those frameworks that I call a critical trans politics.
I am sooooo eagerly awaiting the release of--and opportunity to read--Dean Spade's book.
For now, we have this from the publisher...

What follows is from South End Press *here*:

Normal Life (Paperback original)

Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law
Dean Spade
Released 2011-09-15
Normal Life is the highly anticipated full-length book debut by Dean Spade, heralded as a deeply influential voice on trans and queer liberation struggles. Setting forth a politic that goes beyond the quest for mere legal inclusion, Spade illustrates how and why we must seek nothing less than the radical transformations justice and liberation require.

Normal Life

Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law

Dean Spade

Pages: 208
ISBN: 978-0-89608-796-5
Format: Paperback original
Release Date: 2011-09-15
Purchase for $16.00
This item is available for pre-ordering and qualifies for free shipping.

Description of Normal Life.

Internationally, according to the Equity Network, the average lifespan of a transgender person is 23 years.* The abysmal life chances for trans people here and globally are most often due to violence: police violence and outright murder, to be sure, but also the administration of the seemingly banal state and legal frameworks that invisibly define the most basic contours of everyday life. Within these frameworks, where being trans is not even an acknowledged possibility and the systems in place aggravate some with long lines at the DMV while imperiling the survival of many others, what guarantees can anti-discrimination, equal access, or equal protection laws actually deliver? This question is particularly critical in the current neoliberal context, with popular social movements paradoxically centered on appeals for "equality" by the most privileged within marginalized communities. But if we are to save our own lives, we must not to be sidetracked from the struggle for comprehensive justice. Rather, we must make the necessary interventions into dangerous intersectional systems of repression—and demand the most essential of legal reforms—while remaining steadfast on the path toward liberation.

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law is the highly anticipated full-length book debut by Dean Spade, heralded as a deeply influential voice on trans and queer liberation struggles. Setting forth a politic that goes beyond the quest for mere legal inclusion, Spade illustrates how and why we must seek nothing less than the radical transformations justice and liberation require.

A trans activist, attorney, and educator, Dean Spade has taught classes on sexual orientation, gender identity, and law at the City University of New York (CUNY), Seattle University, and Harvard University. In 2002 he founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a collective that provides free legal services and works to build trans resistance rooted in racial and economic justice.

* The Daily Texan Online
Normal Life | Advance Praise

"Dean Spade’s long-awaited book is a critical intervention that troubles the role of legal reform in social justice struggles. Spade’s articulation of trans politics goes beyond seeking the representation of trans people in social justice struggles, but demonstrates how activists on all fronts often unthinkingly redeploy the logics of white supremacy, imperialism, and heteropatriarchy through legal form. Spade asks not, how does the law recognize trans people, but how is the law itself the means by which gender is created and policed? This book in an invaluable resource not just for rethinking gender justice, but for rethinking how we do social justice organizing in general." ~Andrea Smith, author of Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide and Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances
"Sharply political, deeply intellectual, broadly accessible, Normal Life is exactly what we need right now. Beginning with the immediate everyday needs of transgender people, Dean Spade moves on to provide a brilliantly illuminating analysis of the forces of power constraining us all. This is a must read book for everyone who cares about social justice." ~Lisa Duggan, author of Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy and Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence and American Modernity
"In pointing out the specific mechanisms of social power that oppress gender-variant lives, and in suggesting strategies of resistance, Dean Spade monkey-wrenches the bigger apparatuses of control that work to turn all of our bodies intro resources for nation, state, and capital. This street-smart and theoretically sophisticated little book should be required reading for all would-be radicals looking for practical ways to build a better future. " ~Susan Stryker, Associate Professor, Gender Studies, Indiana University-Bloomington
"This original, visionary, urgent, and brilliantly argued book significantly advances political theory and social movement criticism. The book's analysis of contemporary economic and legal structures clarifies the linkages between the systems of repression that all people working for justice encounter. Spade has produced an essential and exciting book for these challenging times." ~Urvashi Vaid, author of Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation

Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Intersex, Intergender, Asexual: what perspectives and activist agendas from each group do you support?

image of book written by Leslie Feinberg, is from here

Why aren't Leslie Feinberg, Dean Spade, and dedgurl invited to speak about transgender realities on corporate talk shows and news magazine programs? Why aren't their ideas discussed at liberal blogs online?

Why won't non-trans politically aware people question, with respect and regard, the problematic issues surrounding the term "cisgender"? Why the liberal acceptance without interrogation? Is it really because they are afraid to be termed "transphobic"? It doesn't seem to stop people from questioning radical feminists. They don't seem so afraid to be termed "anti-radical" and "anti-feminist".

I'm noticing how on liberal blogs, only the most conservative-to-liberal views and agendas coming from Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Trans folks is being accepted and promoted, while all the rest that is rising out of our LGBTIA groups is being disregarded.

For example, het people--women and men--are embracing the most conservative trans perspectives (on what it means to be trans). The views expressed here are not discussed, nor are those promoted by dedgurl. Why is that, do you think? I'm not so concerned with getting those bloggers and commenters over here. I'm concerned that "being trans" is being shaped only by sex- and gender-conservatives and liberals, which means the deeper issues and questions are not going to be asked among non-trans liberals. How can non-trans people support our struggles if they refuse to see who we are in all our diversity? How can we craft our political strategies if most of us are only exposed to liberal understandings of who we are?

Why are radical perspectives on transgender being and transsexual experience being ignored or non engaged with? Is it because radicals don't have the social-cultural clout to speak with truth? Or is it that liberal-to-conservative trans folks are viewed as being the people liberal non-trans people most want to please or not offend?

There are many views out there about gender and race, about class and ethnicity. Some people, twisting the spiritual meaning of Lady Gaga's hit song, "Born This Way", think we are born queer. But being queer and being non-queer are identities and realities that are relative within any given society. These experiences don't have uniformity or consistency across region and era. So how can they all arrive with us as we take our first breaths of air?

I want this blog to be one of a at least a few blogging spaces that takes up the deeper questions that liberals refuse or simply won't ask themselves about us. How is it that we identify as we do? What are the forces which shape our understandings of ourselves?

When some of us say we feel like we were born in the wrong body, what does that mean? What do we learn having a male body feels like or is supposed to do? How does learning what male- and female- bodied people do shape how we feel in our own? If we are raised to believe males feel one way and females feel another, and we feel more like those people who don't have bodies like ours, how does that contribute to gender dysmorphia? What about intersex people who are not transsexual? Where are the voices of intersex and intergender people in these conversations?

If CRAP-loaded media will only cover stories about trans people if the people adhere to the most conservative understandings of sex and gender, what ought that teach us about who--trans or not--gets publicly validated socially?

I welcome all radical, revolutionary trans people to gather here to discuss our issues and to ask the deepest questions, not pretending our experiences are determined for us at birth or only by biology.

Here's a viewpoint:
Because gender--however we experience it--is at least partially socially constructed, we cannot resort to using biologically deterministic (aka, "essentialist") arguments for our existence. Our existence is part of the fabric of the dominant and non-dominant societies and cultures we live in, sometimes facing a great deal of violence within them. What I see is that for someone who is transgender or transsexual to be partially accepted, they must adhere to the most conservative, heteropatriarchal views and opinions about gender. This does those of us working to dismantle the status quo not much good at all. It undermines our efforts.

I don't see conservative trans people as my enemy. I see the conservative to liberal viewpoints as oppressive to most females, trans or not.

I see that only some ways of understanding and experiencing "being trans" is welcomed to appear in mass media. Dominant, anti-Indigenist, racist, misogynist, anti-Lesbian views are interpersonally enforced, socially entrenched, and politically institutionalised and can't move us out of the CRAP we're in. I strongly believe that.

Those views, values, and political agendas which flow from them and work to structure our reality ought not be accepted without the deepest interrogations. The interrogations are happening but because so many liberals are afraid of being termed "transphobic", only a handful of people, in my experience, are willing to ask and attempt to answer the most difficult questions before us: why are we all the way we are, how do social and economic institutions effect who and what we are, and how do we radically transform or dismantle those institutions so that we are freer to determine our collective lives? And, especially, how do we do this with accountability to those we oppress? How do we work with LGBTIA groups, however they identify themselves, and queer populations (beyond the white Western het male supremacist media's world) who do not get coverage or support at all?

I hope to generate a pro-woman, pro-trans, pro-radical, pro-revolution conversation here. If someone submits an anti-trans or anti-feminist response, I may copy and paste only the non-bigoted, not harmful parts and post them below.

"Sl*twalk"... another point of view

image is from here
The poor people in my family don't walk down the street claiming they are the negative stereotypes rich people assume about them. Their dignity and desire not to participate in their own oppression in such a way is too great for them to do that. The people of color I know well, both women and men, don't walk through the street calling themselves the terms whites hurl at them. Only some structurally privileged women want to publicly use misogynist terms, like "dyke" and "sl*t", and "b*tch". It's part of an anti-radical tactic sometimes called "reclamation". I have lived my adult life using the term "dyke" positively. But I get how that is a race-, gender-, region-, language-, and class-privileged experience to be able to do so.

I'm not comfortable with the term "sl*twalk" being promoted as liberatory or pro-woman as it strikes me as deeply discriminatory against the most poor and otherwise marginalised women who do not have the status to embrace terms like "sl*t" as empowering or part of a liberation movement. The reclamation of oppressive, dehumanising terms--the terms men use to insult and degrade women in an anti-woman society--is not part of my political program, and I don't support it. There are other problems too. Such as trying to salvage a term that describes an idea about a kind of person that is linguistically so culturally relative that to embrace it is to continue to support or "reclaim" the particular anglo-patriarchal cultures in which the term exists, such as those in North America. It's not exactly that all women within a society are oppressing themselves by using those terms; it's that they are oppressing other women.

Ageism: the term conjures a gross stereotype of some women of some ages, none of whom are "sl*ts".

Ableism: the term assumes people walk. Many women do not.

Racism and classism: it is disproportionately race- and class-privileged women who assume that reclaiming misogynist terms and behaviors is empowering to ALL women. It isn't.

Sexism and misogyny: the term is one of the most virulently anti-woman, sexually oppressive terms in the English language.

Heterosexism: the term is generally used against women who are choosing to be sexually available to men, within whatever limited options, with strict codes of compulsory heterosexuality in place. Many women are not choosing to be sexually available to men. And the term invisibilises those women.

The term participates in many other forms of exclusion, discrimination, and marginalisation. Such is the case when privileged few try and show up whenever efforts are made by privileged people to reclaim the terms that are used by men against many multiply disadvantaged, discriminated against women.

I was glad to read this excerpt from another blog, but not for the racism, ethnic insensitivity, and other forms of oppressive privilege on the part of some whites, which result in the need for it to be written at all. Please click on the links below the quoted passage. What follows is something I read over at The Angry Black Woman blog *here*. With thanks to her and also to the author of this writing, Mehreen Kasana.
“As a Muslim feminist woman of color, I cannot relate to Slutwalks as it caters mostly to the definition of emancipation set by white women. Slutwalks deviate in terms of delivering the message against sexual assault. It turns a blind eye to women of cultures where flimsy clothes don’t necessarily lead to rapes. Muslim women get raped too. Nassim Elbardouh is right. “Do Not Rape” Walk sounds better. This isn’t to say that I don’t support Slutwalks. I simply can’t relate to a liberating movement that does not liberate nor acknowledge me. Western feminism, despite its undeniable achievements, still perpetuates the image of a white woman as the liberated one. If these feminists do claim to represent all women, they need to understand the dynamics of the cultures other women hail from. Don’t care if you’re wearing a thong or burka, no one has the right to rape you. Burka clad brown Muslim women get raped too. Represent us. I want a movement that represents me regardless of my color and creed. End victim blaming and rape culture by representing everyone.”

Mehreen Kasana  (via intoxicatedspirit)

30 May 2011 UPDATE: Please also see this:
'SlutWalk completely ignores the way institutional violence is leveled against women of color ... and it wont strip the word “slut” from its hateful meaning. The n-word, for example, is still used to dehumanize black folks, regardless of how many use it among themselves. If SW has proven anything, it is that liberal white women are perfectly comfortable parading their privilege...& ignoring women of color.'