So Where Do We Start?

Reading Spade’s chapters this week left me with a feeling of helplessness.  From my reading of this week’s material, I got the feeling that Spade not only thought that a liberal, rights perspective was the right way to come at the issues of trans politics, but that if that was our only solution we might as well not even try. In Chapter 1, he says, “…the emotional or affective registers of neoliberalism are attuned to notions of ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’ that obscure systemic inequalities and turn social movements toward goals of inclusion and incorporation and away from demands for redistribution and structural transformation” (50).   I agree with this.  When what this country sees as freedom does not mean freedom for everyone on the same level and the most privileged, it would not make a great end goal.  Trans politics should not strive for equality by law reform and then call it a job well done when they get there.  I agree with Spade in that in order to have a true equality for any type of minority, there has to be major structural change within the institutional level of the understanding of gender.  As Spade points out, this is true not only for transphobia to be demolished but racism, homophobia, sexism, and classism as well.  However, I do not agree that trans politics should completely switch gears and start attacking institutions. 


By starting to gain equality in the institutions that are here now, as messed up as they are, I believe that it will help individual people begin to change their views.  All institutions are made up of people.  Just as with feminist politics, the first step is to gain access the institutions and then to start pointing out and criticizing the problems within those institutions.  However, I do not think that any change will be able to be made without first having access to the places that need to change in order for true equality to exist in this country.  Spade argues against this by using the lesbian and gay rights movement. He says, “…the lesbian and gay rights work moved towards the more conservative model of equality promoted in US law and culture through the myth of equal opportunity” (60).   However, I do not know how it is possible to begin by criticizing the institution you want to be able to be a part of.  If starting at the individual level is wrong, where do we start?  I am hoping that Spade answers this question for me within the rest of the book because so far all I have are reasons that the way people are trying now is wrong.  He spends most of these three chapters giving examples of how institutions need to change, but I think that people already know they need to change.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  Social movements never reach an end.  The movement to get rid of racism and sexism is still happening this many years later.  The road to trans equality will be just as hard and long, and I think that starting at an equality point of view is the best way to get a footing in the institutions that need and will be changed in the future.  Here is the website for the National Center for Transgender Equality in case anyone is interested in seeing what is being done today in one section of trans politics being discussed by Spade.  They have a great article called “52 Things You Can Do For Trans Equality.”


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