This dialogue contends with the state of trans studies today. While the authors differ in their levels of optimism for its future, they both agree that if trans studies is to survive, it must be able articulate a fresh set of reading practices distinct from, or even at odds with, those of queer studies. Revisiting Sandy Stone's field-defining 1991 essay “The Empire Strikes Back,” they note that trans studies paradoxically begins with a call to abandon the figure of the transsexual, imagined solely as a normative medical category. In contrast, the authors argue that the critical value of the transsexual lies precisely in her being an obstacle to romantic narratives of antinormative queerness.

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