Issues with the Narrative

In Dean Spade’s “Resisting Medicine, Re/Modeling Gender,” Spade discusses problems with the transgender narrative.  He states that it is problematic because people who want surgery are unable to gain access to it unless they fit the narrative of being uncomfortable in their body during the majority of their life.  This is an issue because people feel as if they have to fit in to this model in order to get access to the surgeries that they want.  Spade says specifically in this article that “ The diagnostic criteria for GID produces a fiction of natural gender in which normal, non-transsexual people grow up with minimal to no gender trouble or exploration, do not crossdress as children, do not play with the wronggendered kids, and do not like the wrong kinds of toys or characters.” He says that this is an unbelievable story. 

Spade also sees a positive side to the medicalization of trans issues, since successful legal claims have been made by use of the medical model of transsexuality.  As an attorney, he does admit that he has to rely on medical evidence to make his cases, while at the same time trying to reform the medicalization of transsexuality.


Here is the link to a blog in which the trans narrative is negatively discussed.  This individual says she finds many problems with the way in which the trans narrative operates and that it doesn’t seem to fit her personal story.  A big problem she has is that the narrative is often viewed as tragic, which is problematic for those who don’t view their stories as tragic. The bloggers states “Here’s the thing: we’ve all got our own experiences, but in mine being trans is not tragic. It’s incredible. In fact, I’m fucking amazing. And my transness has a lot to do with that. I’ve broken one of the most absolute rules handed down by our culture, and that gives me a vision that goes beyond what seems possible to what’s needed and desired. Coming out may have felt like a necessity, but it’s given me incredible strength, the ability to take big leaps of faith, make exciting mistakes, and find liberating new possibilities.”

To many trans folks, the narrative isn’t tragic.  They can’t fit this model for many reasons, whether it is tragedy, financial problems, or other factors.  When the narrative does fit the blogger doesn’t see any problem with it except that no other stories are allowed in the media.  When the media is only shown one narrative can we really generalize about an entire group of people?  Spade and the blogger both explain that there is a problem with the narrative, because not all of the people who identify as trans feel this way about themselves and both feel that it’s okay to be outside of the narrative. 


-Jalyn Phifer


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