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Bettcher, Talia Mae, , . Trapped in the Wrong Theory: Rethinking Trans Oppression and Resistance
2014, Signs: Journal of Women Culture and Society, 39 (2): 383 – 406.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rory Wilson

Abstract: In this essay, I defend an account of trans oppression and resistance that departs from the prevailing transgender model. While I show why both the “trapped in the wrong body” model and the transgender model are problematic, I also illuminate how the former can be seen as a resistant narrative. The new account has two key ideas. First, I draw from María Lugones’s work to defend a model of multiple meanings, arguing that the traditional accounts assume dominant meanings while foreclosing resistant ones. Second, I draw from the recent literature on the transphobic representation of trans people as deceivers to argue that reality enforcement is an important consequence of dominant ways of doing gender. The traditional wrong-body narrative can be seen as resisting reality enforcement.

Comment: This article can pair well with teaching on gender or transgender / queer philosophy. Compliments the work of Rachel MacKinnon.

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Dembroff, Robin, , Wodak, Daniel. He/She/They/Ze
2018, Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy, 5(14): 371 – 406.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rory Wilson

Abstract: In this paper, we defend two main claims. The first is a moderate claim: we have a negative duty to not use binary gender-specific pronouns he or she to refer to genderqueer individuals. We defend this with an argument by analogy. It was gravely wrong for Mark Latham to refer to Catherine McGregor, a transgender woman, using the pronoun he; we argue that such cases of misgendering are morally analogous to referring to Angel Haze, who identifies as genderqueer, as he or she. The second is a radical claim: we have a negative duty to not use any gender-specific pronouns to refer to anyone, regardless of their gender identity. We offer three arguments in favor of this claim (which appeal to concerns about inegalitarianism and risk, invasions of privacy, and reinforcing essentialist ideologies). We also show why the radical claim is compatible with the moderate claim. Before concluding, we examine common concerns about incorporating either they or a neologism such as ze as a third-person singular gender-neutral pronoun. These concerns, we argue, do not provide sufficient reason to reject either the moderate or radical claim.

Comment: This text can be used as a companion piece to other texts on the metaphysics of gender or to introduce students to transgender / nonbinary identities. Dembroff and Wodak give a good overview of the importance of pronouns as well as the contemporary pronoun debate between they and ze for those with little to no prior background. This paper is good for debate over its radical claim.

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McKinnon, Rachel, , Conrad, Aryn. Including Trans Women in Sport: Analyzing Principles and Policies of Fairness in Competition
2020, In: Philosophical Topics: Gendered Oppression and Its Intersections (Ed. Bianka Takaoka and Kate Manne)
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the scientific, legal, and ethical foundations for inclusion of transgender women athletes in competitive sport, drawing on IOC principles and relevant Court of Arbitration for Sport decisions. We argue that the inclusion of transathletes in competition commensurate with their legal gender is the most consistent position with these principles of fair and equitable sport. Biological restrictions, such as endogenous testosterone limits, are not consistent with IOC and CAS principles. We explore the implications for recognizing that endogenous testosterone values are a natural physical trait and that excluding legally recognized women for high endogenous testosterone values constitutes discrimination on the basis of a natural physical trait. We suggest that the justificatory burden for such prima facie discrimination is unlikely to be met. Thus, in place of a limit on endogenous testosterone for women (whether cisgender, transgender, or intersex), we argue that legally recognized gender is most fully in line with IOC and CAS principles.

Comment: I would use this paper primarily as a key piece of reading in an applied ethics class. It’s detailed, topical, and can be a great way to start discussions on trans* issues, gender, sport, and fairness. It makes some good use of science and statistics, but in a way that’s accessible, and it offers original arguments. It would also be useful in classes on feminism or the philosophy of sport.

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Steinbock, Eliza, , . Generative Negatives: Del LaGrace Volcano’s Herm Body Photographs
2014, Transgender Studies Quarterly 1(4): 539-551.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Summary: In conventional film photography, negatives are used in the darkroom to produce positive images, but in the outmoded medium Polaroid 665 the positive image is used to make a unique negative that can then be employed to make positive prints in the future. This generativity of the Polaroid 665 negative is used by the artist to mirror the complexity of feelings regarding intersex bodies. The series shows how negative affect can be productive and political, even when it appears to suspend agency.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture and depiction, as well as empowerment and art’s role in power relations in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Del LaGrace Volcano, Herm Body (2011- )

Self-portraits which clearly reference the work of John Coplans and reflect on Volcano’s midlife embodiment changed by hormones, age, and weight. The title draws attention to the materiality of its subject, insisting that we receive the body as ‘herm’ – a word Volcano uses to name intersex history and claim trans embodiment.

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