Scholars tend to envision the sexual politics of settler colonialism and slavery through masculinist conceptions in which penetration designates mastery and receptiveness subjugation. This article asks instead how white desires for sexual submission to nonwhite men operate within white supremacy. It augments white trans and queer studies' conceptualizations of bottoming with theories of white submission found in Black thought, particularly Frantz Fanon and James Baldwin. And it argues that both sets of ideas find themselves anticipated in the mid-nineteenth-century writings of the white, gender-variant author Theodore Winthrop—particularly their most popular novel, Cecil Dreeme (1861). For Winthrop, bottoming desires occasion two modes of self-expression. First, they facilitate transfeminine embodiment, staging an experience of womanliness predicated on the racist contrast between their own white body and that of nonwhite men they see as exceptionally virile. Second, they allow Winthrop to imagine ways of being other than the self-possession and corporeal autonomy of white subjectivity. In both instances, Winthrop's fantasies rely on the plasticity of the white body under the influence of nonwhite men, even as they underscore the biopolitical unidirectionality of plasticity, tracing patterns in which Black, brown, and Indigenous men exert influence on whites while remaining fundamentally incapable of transformation. This history of racialized access to malleability provides a cautionary tale about the incorporative nature of whiteness and how contemporary politics of self-determination might unwittingly replicate white supremacist logics.

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