Friday, May 27, 2011

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law: Dean Spade's New Book!! Info from the press here...

webphoto of Dean Spade is by Johanna Breiding, here

To learn a bit more about Dean's forthcoming book, please read this interview, over at Guernica Magazine online.

An excerpt follows:
Guernica: Can you tell me about your forthcoming book?

Dean Spade: Yeah, it’s coming out September 2011 from South End Press. It’s a book that tries to describe what a critical trans politics looks like. We’re in this moment where there’s this gay and lesbian politics that’s really lacking in its racial and economic justice analysis and overly relies on legal reform for its strategy and doesn’t really look at people in dire need today. So this book says, okay, we have the option to focus on hate crime laws and other legal reforms or we can reframe what trans politics is and center economic and racial justice. We can realize that changing the law doesn’t change people’s lives and have an understanding of the limitations of the nonprofit form, the ways in which concentrating leadership in professionals and having nondemocratic models for organizations and movements harms and undermines the transformative change we are seeking. The book lays out those frameworks that I call a critical trans politics.
I am sooooo eagerly awaiting the release of--and opportunity to read--Dean Spade's book.
For now, we have this from the publisher...

What follows is from South End Press *here*:

Normal Life (Paperback original)

Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law
Dean Spade
Released 2011-09-15
Normal Life is the highly anticipated full-length book debut by Dean Spade, heralded as a deeply influential voice on trans and queer liberation struggles. Setting forth a politic that goes beyond the quest for mere legal inclusion, Spade illustrates how and why we must seek nothing less than the radical transformations justice and liberation require.

Normal Life

Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law

Dean Spade

Pages: 208
ISBN: 978-0-89608-796-5
Format: Paperback original
Release Date: 2011-09-15
Purchase for $16.00
This item is available for pre-ordering and qualifies for free shipping.

Description of Normal Life.

Internationally, according to the Equity Network, the average lifespan of a transgender person is 23 years.* The abysmal life chances for trans people here and globally are most often due to violence: police violence and outright murder, to be sure, but also the administration of the seemingly banal state and legal frameworks that invisibly define the most basic contours of everyday life. Within these frameworks, where being trans is not even an acknowledged possibility and the systems in place aggravate some with long lines at the DMV while imperiling the survival of many others, what guarantees can anti-discrimination, equal access, or equal protection laws actually deliver? This question is particularly critical in the current neoliberal context, with popular social movements paradoxically centered on appeals for "equality" by the most privileged within marginalized communities. But if we are to save our own lives, we must not to be sidetracked from the struggle for comprehensive justice. Rather, we must make the necessary interventions into dangerous intersectional systems of repression—and demand the most essential of legal reforms—while remaining steadfast on the path toward liberation.

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law is the highly anticipated full-length book debut by Dean Spade, heralded as a deeply influential voice on trans and queer liberation struggles. Setting forth a politic that goes beyond the quest for mere legal inclusion, Spade illustrates how and why we must seek nothing less than the radical transformations justice and liberation require.

A trans activist, attorney, and educator, Dean Spade has taught classes on sexual orientation, gender identity, and law at the City University of New York (CUNY), Seattle University, and Harvard University. 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.

* The Daily Texan Online
Normal Life | Advance Praise

"Dean Spade’s long-awaited book is a critical intervention that troubles the role of legal reform in social justice struggles. Spade’s articulation of trans politics goes beyond seeking the representation of trans people in social justice struggles, but demonstrates how activists on all fronts often unthinkingly redeploy the logics of white supremacy, imperialism, and heteropatriarchy through legal form. Spade asks not, how does the law recognize trans people, but how is the law itself the means by which gender is created and policed? This book in an invaluable resource not just for rethinking gender justice, but for rethinking how we do social justice organizing in general." ~Andrea Smith, author of Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide and Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances
"Sharply political, deeply intellectual, broadly accessible, Normal Life is exactly what we need right now. Beginning with the immediate everyday needs of transgender people, Dean Spade moves on to provide a brilliantly illuminating analysis of the forces of power constraining us all. This is a must read book for everyone who cares about social justice." ~Lisa Duggan, author of Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy and Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence and American Modernity
"In pointing out the specific mechanisms of social power that oppress gender-variant lives, and in suggesting strategies of resistance, Dean Spade monkey-wrenches the bigger apparatuses of control that work to turn all of our bodies intro resources for nation, state, and capital. This street-smart and theoretically sophisticated little book should be required reading for all would-be radicals looking for practical ways to build a better future. " ~Susan Stryker, Associate Professor, Gender Studies, Indiana University-Bloomington
"This original, visionary, urgent, and brilliantly argued book significantly advances political theory and social movement criticism. The book's analysis of contemporary economic and legal structures clarifies the linkages between the systems of repression that all people working for justice encounter. Spade has produced an essential and exciting book for these challenging times." ~Urvashi Vaid, author of Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation

7 comments:

Dark Daughta said...

"So this book says, okay, we have the option to focus on hate crime laws and other legal reforms or we can reframe what trans politics is and center economic and racial justice. We can realize that changing the law doesn’t change people’s lives" Honestly though? Who is "We"? In this city, as far as I can see, the trans people who articulate agendas of resistance are majority white and/or middle-class. It's the same everywhere, isn't it? Who writes the books? Who speaks for everyone? Who is taken seriously? Can't articulate a trans liberation agenda grounded in race and class (no one is even about looking at fat phobia, ageism, lookism, academic elitism, citizenship) without looking at who gets to lead.

Julian Real said...

Dean's work is with people who are not white, middle class, or statused by things like country citizenship.

I'm with you, Dark Daughta, that the voices in leadership MUST not be white and otherwise privileged.

Let me know if you feel Dean is not sensitive enough to the issues that impact your life. Are you aware of his work critiquing the idea of "trickle down justice"?

Owl Eyes said...

I have never read or heard of Dean Spade until now - I am reading his piece called "About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts" and it is very eye-opening so far. So thank you! Always have such brilliant activism on this blog :-)

Owl Eyes said...

In my reading, I see that Dean supports the idea of instead of "biological male or female" use "cisgender" or non-trans...this feels to me like it is excluding women. Maybe this is not the intent? I support trans rights, but I do not support approaches that name women. Still find the work interesting.

Julian Real said...

Hi Owl Eyes!

I like his work. I appreciate it. And I think he's bringing some very important points of analysis and critique to the discussions that mostly go nowhere constructive on the blogosphere.

Dark Daughta said...

Hi, Julian. I haven't read his book but I'm sure that if you're saying he's on the ball, he is. My issue is that all the trans people, queer people who do good work and speak and write books that are taken seriously are white. They are perpetually making space for people of colour and poor people in a very inclusive fashion. It's just that the best kind of room they could possibly make is to not put their faces out there as representative of everyone. On the ground, for someone like me who participated in queer community organizing and who watched as white queers made sure to keep the reigns, by supporting only the most liberal poc who would allow them to continue to lead, to define agendas for us all, to create culture supposedly representative of us all, as they made sure to support the work of only the most liberal and unquestioning of us all, because it was only in so doing that they would be able to safeguard their power places in community, I have an allergic reaction whenever I see another white person come forward with their representative work meant to make space for us all. I'm surrounded by representative types in this city. They're annoyingly full of power and privilege. I'm sure Dean isn't like this. Your interrogation and critiques are fucking rigorous, Julian. So, I'm not saying that. It's just that I'm having an allergic reaction to, as I said, who speaks for us all and how, when it comes to race and other forms of oppression in queer communities, often it isn't the most radical people who get to speak but the least. And hi! (waving) I'm so relieved and happy to be able to read you and communicate with you again. Glad you're still here doing the exact same thing I left you doing, fucking ripping power, privilege and oppression to shreds. Thanks, Julian.

Julian Real said...

Welcome back, Dark Daughta!

I missed you and was hoping I'd see you here again.

I want to be super-clear that I share your "allergy" and also don't view it as an allergy. I'll explain what I mean--although I suspect you already know what I'm getting at.

Someone reminded me not long ago that what many people view as allergies, such as to chemicals, isn't an allergy at all. It's an appropriate negative response to exposure to toxins, poisons, placed before us systematically to profit chemical companies and wear down the immune systems of people at large.

So that's how I view whites (or men) in leadership in social justice movements. I'm not too familiar with Dean or his work. I've heard very good things about him but now that I think about it, that's only from someone who is white. Anti-racist, but white.

Probably one thing I'd like people to take from this blog is this: "I don't believe people atop social hierarchies can lead us out of trouble, into liberation." I don't believe they can and I don't believe they ought to, either!

So I share your "allergy", Dark Daughta. And I could on hearing your sneezes whenever you are exposed to something toxic or poisonous.

I fear I have replicated a toxic experience for you by posting about Dean as I have, without qualified concerns about someone white moving into a position of relative leadership, such as it is among trans-identified folks.

I don't think the "face" of trans and LGBTIA activism ought to be white.

I'm nominating you and dedgurl for leadership positions. Whether either of you want to 'run for office' is something else entirely!! :)

I'm so glad you're back posting comments here!! Get comfy--again. Thank you, as always, for sharing your gifts here.