Academic journal article Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

"Doctor, Am I an Anglophone Trapped in a Francophone Body?": An Intersectional Analysis of "Trans-Crip-T Time" in Ableist, Cisnormative, Anglonormative Societies

Academic journal article Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

"Doctor, Am I an Anglophone Trapped in a Francophone Body?": An Intersectional Analysis of "Trans-Crip-T Time" in Ableist, Cisnormative, Anglonormative Societies

Article excerpt

"Doctor, am I an Anglophone trapped in a Francophone body?"

Since beginning my sex/gender transition, people have asked me if I felt "trapped in the wrong body." Given my complex, critical relationship with this conception of transness and to avoid lengthy explanations or making generally well-meaning people uncomfortable, I have often joked that, as a Francophone working in majority-Anglophone fields of study like trans and disability studies, I feel more like an Anglophone trapped in a Francophone body than a man trapped in a woman's body. Although this rejoinder always goes over well, it nonetheless carries troubling implications for both trans and language issues. Asking, "Doctor, am I an Anglophone trapped in a Francophone body?" interrogates the dominant trope through which trans identities have recently been conceptualized by medicine, psychiatry, the general population, and trans people themselves. This formulation calls into question the role of medical authorities in establishing diagnoses-whether mental disorders like "gender dysphoria" or physical disabilities-while also questioning the academic authority of PhDs in fields of ethnic and linguistic identities. Although numerous authors in trans studies (e.g. Bettcher; Spade, "Resisting"; Halberstam, Female, 143-73) have criticized the "wrong body" discourse, others, like Eva Hayward, have sought to resignify it and highlight possibilities created by theorizing "entrapment":

First, for transsexuals, rather than emphasizing the element of "wrong-bodiness" in the now familiar trope, "trapped in the wrong body," what if we highlighted the question of the "trap." Trapped can describe the embodied quality of felt disembodiment [...]. But, trap may also refer to being trapped by a cultural insistence in sexual oppositions and hierarchies [...] To be trapped in a wrong body, then, must also account for these questions of articulation, articulating oneself into culture and history, but also creating a site, a gap, making room in cultural and political fabrications. In this way, entrapment is always also about doors, alternative passageways, surprises, and thresholds. To be trapped in the body, then, is possibility rather than only confinement [...] (244)

Following Hayward, I would like to reflect on the doors opened by conceptualizing trans and linguistic identities from the perspective of entrapment, not in terms of "wrong bodiness," but through their economic, political, social, and cultural contexts. To do this, I use the concept of "crip time" developed in disability studies.1 "Crip time" refers both to the additional time disabled people require to perform certain tasks and to a more flexible temporality that takes different rhythms and abilities into consideration (Kafer 26-27). In other words, "crip time" is not only descriptive, it also evaluates and critiques traditional temporality. Much as authors like Halberstam (In a Queer) and Freeman have done with "queer time," "crip time" can be a way to denounce traditional notions of heteronormative, ableist temporalities and reconceptualize them through marginalized, subaltern perspectives. I argue that the interpretation of "crip time" used in disability studies not only provides heuristic value as a means to examine the temporal experience of trans people and linguistic minorities in cisnormative,2 Anglonormative3 contexts, but can also have positive implications for disability studies. Inspired by Bell's and McRuer's problematization of heteronormative and racist assumptions in disability studies, I believe that theorizing trans and language issues together through the lens of "crip time" may be useful in calling out cisnormative and Anglonormative assumptions in disability studies that remain largely unchallenged.

Using a queer, transactivist, intersectional perspective; critical genealogy methodology; and auto-ethnographic approach based on my experiences as a transsexual, disabled, Francophone man, I propose to extend the concept of "crip time" to trans people and linguistic minorities. …

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