“The King’s Two Anuses: Trans Feminism and Free Speech” critically examines the discourses of trans feminism and free speech absolutism as they have converged in a number of public controversies in the wake of the 2016 election of Donald Trump. It argues that the crisis of democratic institutions precipitated by that election revealed the surprising susceptibility of the dominant strains of critical and queer theory to cooptation by the far right and exposed the inadequacy of institutionalized rhetorics of trans affirmation, which generally comprise defenses of indeterminacy or gender ambivalence—the very conditions many trans people contest. Drawing on the late work of Michel Foucault and the private writings of Ernst Kantorowicz, “The King’s Two Anuses” articulates a critique of the Lacanian account of subjective sexuation (in the work of Judith Butler, Joan Copjec, and Slavoj Žižek), which it holds especially influential and especially inadequate to the task of accounting for the diversity and assertiveness of trans accounts of personhood.

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