“Instead of focusing on what the law says about trans people, which is really what the law is saying about itself as a protector of trans people, we should be focused on what systems of law and administration do to trans people and our interventions should aim to dismantle harmful, violent systems such as criminal punishment and immigration enforcement.”Dean Spade in an interview on Normal Life
Dean Spade is an Associate Professor of Law at Seattle University. He is the author of the 2011 book, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law, a part of which you’ll be reading for this module, and, more recently, of the 2020 book, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During this Crisis (and the next). He founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in 2002, a nonprofit that provides legal services to trans people who are low-income and/or people of colour. Spade is an activist as well as an academic and a lawyer, and is involved, for instance, in prison abolition campaigns. Before going to law school, Spade earned a BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies.
An overview of Spade’s book, Normal Life, was provided in the video lecture for this module. For this reason, the reading (the Introduction and Chapter One of the book) is optional. You are not required to read it but it is available if you would like to explore the topic of the video lecture in more detail.
The optional reading by Dean Spade can be found below.
“This is what we ‘postmodernists’ mean when we complain that science often privileges a white cishet male perspective. It’s not that I hate men, or male sexuality, I just hate that the [white cishet] male sexual perspective is so powerful that it gets to call itself science.”Natalie Wynn, “Autogynephilia”
Natalie Wynn studied piano at Berklee College of Music and philosophy at Georgetown University and Northwestern University. She nearly completed a PhD in Philosophy at Northwestern before deciding to leave academia. In 2008 she started the ContraPoint YouTube channel. Wynn’s philosophical video essays are often responses to the alt-right, and explore topics related to gender and sexuality. The video you will watch for this module, “Autogynephilia,” has to to do with the pathologization of trans people’s sexuality. Wynn’s primary target in this video is a trans-hating Psychology Professor at Northwestern University, J. Michael Bailey, who authored the 2003 book, The Man Who Would be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism.
Note that the character of Abigail Cockbane in the video, played by Wynn, represents a “TERF” or MTraHP.