Academic journal article The Journal of Gender, Race and Justice

Constructing the Trannie:1 Transgender People and the Law^sup FootNote^

Academic journal article The Journal of Gender, Race and Justice

Constructing the Trannie:1 Transgender People and the Law^sup FootNote^

Article excerpt


It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.2

This paper uses three approaches to writing, form, and style in order to expose legal treatment of transgender individuals. The first approach is the "proper text" of this law review article. This approach reads as a whole by itself, yet the reader does not gain a full context without a complete reading of the other sections as well.3 The second approach is to emphasize the footnotes. My attempt was to make the footnotes just as important as the proper text of this paper. In some instances I have put substantial discussions of topics within the footnotes; sometimes removing a full section from the proper text of the paper and placing it in a footnote. The purpose of this technique is to eliminate the mystique and second-class status that is generally communicated through the use of a footnote. Transgender individuals are often relegated to the footnotes; therefore I rise in opposition in two ways. First, I empower the footnote. The footnotes are not meant to be glossed over; rather, they are just as important as the text. 4 While the first oppositional method deals within the system (by acknowledging that there is something of a "second rate" standard associated with footnotes), my second oppositional method moves the transgender individual back into the main text of the paper. This (re)placement in the proper text is intimately related to the third approach to writing: personal quotes. These quotes are set off on the right side of the paper, and attempt to highlight what Vivian Namaste notes as the major flaw in most transgender academic writings, the erasure of the transgender voice.5

This paper is written in a pseudo-narrative form.6 This approach attempts to accomplish two goals. First, the narrative form empowers the individual voice.7 Second, the form is a direct reaction to the ways in which the legal system treats transgender individuals as voiceless and sub-human. This paper's central thesis is that transgender individuals are treated very poorly in the current legal system. Because the current system is doing such a poor job, and I am openly critiquing that system, it would be incredibly hypocritical for me to write in the same form that has so far accomplished very little in the way of creating legal rights and status for transgender individuals.8

Throughout the paper, I attempt to provide a theoretical framework to help aid the reader. I have placed footnotes labeling five sources of methodological theory that I use in the paper: feminist, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender theories.9 I group all of these theories under umbrella labels at the beginning of the paper, and then use them throughout the paper as guideposts. This is a way to show the reader how certain theories react with(in) my over-arching theme, as well as to highlight those times when there are substantial differences between theories or practices-causing tension between groups or theories. This also helps to show where my personal viewpoints, biases and critiques stand throughout the paper. I am extremely critical of what I label "gay theory," but I attempt to acknowledge that bias and provide primary sources for readers to begin their own research into the merits of such a theory.

Throughout this article, I use the pronouns ze and hir for he/she and his/her respectively, as well as spell woman/women with a "y": womyn. I do this as a direct challenge to the structure of the English language-a language that often stifles gender variance because the very language that we use to express ourselves is encased in a very rigid binary gender code. …

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