The essay is a retrospective reflection on “Queering the Center by Centering the Queer: Reflections on Transsexuals and Secular Jews,” which critically explored the structures of normative intelligibility through a comparison of experiences of unintelligibility. Twenty years later, extraordinary progress has been made in rendering transsexual lives intelligible, in part by replacing invisibly professionally managed transformations with openly lived journeys. But core conceptual dichotomies that problematically set the terms of intelligibility remain entrenched—in particular, between determined facticity and ungrounded freedom—leading to some trans women's arguing that there is some core meaning of woman that as a matter of fact includes them, and others' defiantly claiming the right to self-identify as women freed from any shared social understanding of what that means. The essay suggests that there is more political hope in arguing against currently normative understandings of gender while struggling to find plural, often contentious, but interrelated, coalitional understandings that do justice to the wide range of gender's discontents.

You do not currently have access to this content.