Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law
Dean Spade is an Assistant Professor at the Seattle University School of Law. In 2002, Spade founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a nonprofit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. For more writing by Dean Spade, see http://www.deanspade.net.
Introduction: Rights, Movements, and Critical Trans Politics
This chapter argues that traditional ways of thinking about and advocating for “individual rights” fail to adequately comprehend or remedy the harms facing trans populations. Rather than looking at transphobia as a form of top-down oppression by discriminators, the introduction argues that the enforcement of racialized gender and body norms permeate everyday life and the administration of government and non-profit services and programs. It introduces the term “subjection” as an alternative to “oppression” to describe the complex, nuanced, and multiple manifestations of harm and violence trans people face. It also describes why activists use terms like Prison Industrial Complex and Military Industrial Complex to identify the decentralized operation of systems of control, suggesting that this view of power is essential to contemporary social movements. It also provides an outline of the book’s chapters.