I am enjoying Valentine’s ‘Imagining Transgender’. It is the best text on male gender variance that I have found. He deconstructs transgender identity politics from the space created by Michel Foucault and Judith Butler. It has helped me refine how I feel about the Transexual narrative. This narrative as I see it in Julia Serano’s ‘the Whipping Girl’ says:
1) There are two genders, Male and Female. These are ‘true’ genders. Everyone is ‘really’ one or the other.
2) Some people are assigned the ‘wrong’ gender at birth based upon sex characteristics. This causes psychological pain.
3) SRS (sex reassignment surgery), plastic surgery and hormones can bring can bring a person’s physical sex in alignment with h/er ‘true’ sex.
4) It is a form of violence to not attribute question the truth claim of the chosen gender.
I have embraced an aternate Foucaultian discourse that identity categories like Gender, Sex, Sexuality or Transgender are created through micro-political processes (Latour and ANT for exploration of the mechanisms).
I do not recognize any claims to the truth of a gender. All genders are constructed. From this standpoint I see hormones and SRS as body modifications. That is great. Tattoos piercings and hormones. You have control over your own body. But I consider someone who explores a gender outside the binary to have an equally ‘true’ gender as someone who uses medical technology to take on a ‘classical’ gender.
Valentine the gender activist Riki Wilchins. I think she captures the gist of this post-identity politics view of gender. In her email sig she used to describe herself as “just your average straight white guy with a cunt.”