Introduction for source review on the subject of Transnormativity.
Bell Hooks identifies marginality as “a location of radical openness and possibility”, this statement is one of power, distancing marginality from the location of deprivation and struggle.
When I say marginalised I refer to race, class, gender and sexuality but primarily in this text the focus is on gender. In the essay “There’s Something Queer Here” by Alexander Doty, Doty uses the quote above from Hooks and the phrase “site of resistance” from the same text when explaining the use of the word queer in their cultural studies. Dotys continues to suggest that the “erotically marginal” or “queer erotics” exist as a necessary construct to define the heterosexual, the cis-gendered and the straight (as “not queer”) but also as a position open to be occupied in different ways by otherwise heterosexual and straight-identifying people. Unlike lesbian theory or gay male theory as Sue Ellen Case points out, queer theory is not gender specific and the identity of queer is non-gender specific. Voicing this notion of queerness becomes difficult within languages and cultures that make gender and gender difference so crucial to their discursive articulation. This is even before social structures become involved. Previously gay-specific modes of queer identities involve a degree of same-gender identification linked to same-gender desire. In attempt to understand what gender is ranging from conventional straight, cis forms, forms that acclimate feminine and masculine coalescing them with essentializing sex. These biology-based conceptions of woman and man were what defined our theory and history until now.
In Undoing Gender (2004) Judith Butler says her own thinking is influenced by the “New Gender Politics” emerging in the recent years before the books publication. “A combination of movements concerned with transgender, transsexuality, intersex and their complex relations to feminist and queer theory.” Butler then speaks about the practice of coercive surgery on children and infants with sexually indeterminate or hermaphroditic anatomy with the goal of normalising these bodies. The idea that the trans body may never flourish because they do not conform to the idealised and easily understood human anatomy leads me to the focus of this source review: Transnormativity.
Transnormativity should be understood alongside heteronormativity (Berlant and Warner 1998; Ingraham 1994; Warner 1991) and homonormativity (Duggan 2003; Seidman 2002) as both an empowering and constraining ideology that deems some trans people’s identifications, characteristics, and behaviors as legitimate and prescriptive (e.g., those that adhere to a medical model) while others’ are marginalized, subordinated, or
rendered invisible (e.g., those that do not adhere to a medical model) (Jackson 2006; Rich 1980).