Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law

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South End Press, 2011 - Law - 246 pages

Wait—what’s wrong with rights?

Much of the legal advocacy for trans and gender nonconforming people in the US has reflected the civil rights and “equality” strategies of mainstream gay and lesbian organizations—agitating for legal reforms that would ostensibly guarantee equal access, nondiscrimination, and equal protection under the law. This approach assumes that the state and its legal, policing, and social services apparatus—even its policies and documents of belonging and non-belonging—are neutral and benevolent. While we all have to comply with the gender binaries set forth by regulatory bodies of law and administration, many trans people, especially the most marginalized, are even more at risk for poverty, violence, and premature death by virtue of those same “neutral” legal structures.

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law raises revelatory critiques of the current strategies pivoting solely on a “legal rights framework,” but also points to examples of an organized grassroots trans movement that is demanding the most essential of legal reforms in addition to making more comprehensive interventions into dangerous systems of repression—and the administrative violence that ultimately determines our life chances. Setting forth a politic that goes beyond the quest for mere legal inclusion, Normal Life is an urgent call for justice and trans liberation, and the radical transformations it will require.

An attorney, educator, and trans activist, Dean Spade has taught classes on sexual orientation, gender identity, poverty and law at the City University of New York (CUNY), Seattle University, Columbia University, and Harvard. In 2002 he founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a collective that provides free legal services and works to build trans resistance rooted in racial and economic justice.

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User Review  - lauralkeet - LibraryThing

When my daughter was home on spring break, we got to talking about LGBTQ activism and specifically "what's next" after marriage equality. She mentioned this book, which she read for a class a couple ... Read full review

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law

User Review  - Book Verdict

Spade critiques the LGBT political movements that attempt to work within the system in order to secure equal rights, arguing that this approach assumes that the powers that be are neutral or ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Currently on the faculty of Seattle University, Dean Spade has taught at Columbia and Harvard Law Schools and was a Williams Institute Law Teaching Fellow at UCLA Law School. He focuses on classes related to sexual orientation and gender identity law and law and social movements.

In 2002, Spade founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. SRLP also engages in litigation, policy reform and public education on issues affecting these communities and operates on a collective governance model, prioritizing the governance and leadership of trans, intersex, and gender variant people of color. From 1998-2006, Dean co-edited the paper and online zine Make. Dean is currently the co-editor of the online journal Enough, which focuses on the personal politics of wealth redistribution.

Spade was awarded the prestigious Dukeminier Award for his 2008 article "Documenting Gender" and the 2009-2010 Haywood Burns Chair at CUNY Law School, and was selected to give the 2009-2010 James A. Thomas Lecture at Yale.

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