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This book takes both transgender and intersex positions into account and asks about commonalities and strategic alliances in terms of knowledge, theory, philosophy, art, and life experience. It strikes a balance between works on literature, film, photography, sports, law, and general theory, bringing together humanistic and social science approaches. Horlacher adopts a non-hierarchical perspective and asks how transgender and intersex issues are conceptualized from a variety of different viewpoints and to what extent artistic and creative discourses offer their own uniquely relevant forms of knowledge and expression.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Transgender and Intersex: Theoretical, Practical, and Artistic Perspectives

This article serves as an introduction to the phenomena of transgender and intersex, contextualizes these fields of studies, and delineates the major aims of this research anthology, that being: to take both transgender and intersex positions into account and—instead of playing them off against each other—to ask about commonalities and strategic alliances, in terms of knowledge, theory, philosophy, art, and life experience. The aim is to strike a balance between work on literature, film, photography, law, sports, and general theory, bringing together humanistic approaches with social science approaches and integrating lenses for studying gender. Further, this introduction argues that what is needed is a non-hierarchical, multi-perspective approach that endeavors to overcome the limitations of sex and gender research within the disciplines and fields of studies mentioned above by asking how transgender and intersex issues are negotiated and conceptualized from a variety of different points of view, what specific findings arise from there, and to what extent artistic and creative discourses offer their own uniquely relevant forms of knowledge and expression. The last part of this article introduces the reader to the different contributions, emphasizing how they relate to and communicate with each other.
Stefan Horlacher

Chapter 2. Queer Europe: New Normative Values for Global LGBT Law

This article reviews the jurisprudence of sex and gender in medieval Europe; a time in history when a Judeo-Christian-based legal framework allowed for the persecution and judicial killing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The chapter then considers how the new ‘Europes’ of the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe, in their response to a Europe in which the Nazi genocide was able to flourish, have also responded to this traditional jurisprudence. It outlines the development of a new moral sensibility—a new ‘rule of law’, which has created a social and legal framework in which LGBT people’s rights have not just been increasingly recognized but are also now, increasingly, being protected. The chapter contrasts this with the history of national persecutions of LGBT people, and discusses how the new versions of Europe have led to a process of creating normative and ethical law in which LGBT rights are natural and given.
Stephen Whittle, Lewis Turner

Chapter 3. Fear, Loathing, and Empty Gestures: UK Legislation on Sport and the Transgender Participant

The Gender Recognition Act 2004, s.19—which sought to restrict transgendered persons’ opportunities to participate in sports—was never argued before the courts of the UK before being repealed by the Equality Act 2010. The 2004 Act had sought to ban participation of transgendered persons in sports if their involvement was not conducive to either ‘competitive fairness’ or ‘safety’. This chapter explores the legal difficulties that were always bound to exist in enforcing a prohibition on either ground. It considers the relevant medical literature and fundamental legal principles that are common to most European jurisdictions in order to illustrate the difficulty of introducing lawful, effective constraints on transgender participation, and argues in favor of inclusivity for all sports participants.
David McArdle

Chapter 4. Intersex and Trans* Communities: Commonalities and Tensions

Intersex and trans* communities are similar in that they are both marginalized because they belie a core contemporary ideology: that people are born with a binary physical sex, and that this determines their binary gender. Having bodies and identities that often conflict with this precept, trans* and intersex people are subjected to social stigma that can have powerful negative effects. While this commonality has led some intersex and trans* people to make common cause and work together politically, other factors drive the two communities apart. To understand the tensions that separate two communities that might seem ‘natural’ allies, we must understand how each of the two communities is itself split into two subgroups. Both the intersex and trans* communities contain some individuals who frame their community distinction as a matter of identity and pride, and others who view their difference as a disorder that should be approached with pity and cured medically. The majority of the people in intersex communities use the disorder framework, while the majority of trans* individuals use an identity frame. Many transsexuals who employ the disorder framework present transsexuality as an intersex condition of the brain. Their hope is that if the larger society can be persuaded that this is the case, medical transition services will be freely provided out of pity to cure those afflicted with intersex brains, as children with intermediate genitals are given sex assignment surgery. Intersex individuals largely resist the idea that trans* status is an intersex condition of the brain, for reasons that this chapter will explore, and this tension drives the two communities apart. It is only the subsets of the intersex and trans communities that employ the identity framework who tend to work together as allies. These allied individuals center the idea that sex status should be a matter of personal autonomy based upon gender identity, and validate non-binary gender identities in addition to binary ones.
Cary Gabriel Costello

Chapter 5. Transgender and Intersex: Unavoidable Essentialism and the Normative Struggle for Recognition

Transgender and intersex studies are stuck in an ‘anti rhetoric’ against heteronormativity and binary oppositions. Not only is this practice questionable from a theoretical point of view, but, much more problematically, it serves to alienate parts of the community—most notably many intersex people. In order to find new ways of formulating activism, this chapter grapples with the theoretical underpinnings of transgender and intersex studies, respectively. What emerges are two persistently recurring forms of essentialism: mind essentialism and body essentialism. But instead of denouncing them, the article shows how essentialisms can be employed for emancipatory positions. Such a strategy has further implications for transgender and intersex studies, and their contributions to gender studies in general. The chapter concludes by proposing a shift away from primarily fighting against a binary gender system in gender studies towards primarily working for intersex and trans people’s recognition and self-determination—tacitly accepting, of course, that this may change the gender framework as we know it.
Sebastian Jansen

Chapter 6. Trans*, Intersex, and the Question of Pregnancy: Beyond Repronormative Reproduction

Based on the assumption that reproduction in Western societies remains a cultural realm which is distinctively governed by characteristically heteronormative discursive conditions, this article aims to critically examine the interrelatedness between repronormativity and trans* and intersex lived bodies. Western cultures are moving towards paradigmatic changes of legalizing, treating, and embodying sex/gender identities that will substantially alter socio-cultural discourses on, and practices of, reproduction. Within this period of upheaval, the question of trans* and intersex pregnancies challenges norms of reproduction. Both trans* as well as intersex pregnancies are constructed deviations from a hegemonic binary norm. As such, their corresponding constructedness needs to be considered with respect to their divergence from a dualistic order. A co-consideration not only opens up significant new perspectives on how repronormatively organized discourses form the basis of our cultures’ understanding of trans* and intersex pregnancies, but also puts an emphasis on their shared characteristics in order to develop mutual political strategies.
Nadyne Stritzke, Elisa Scaramuzza

Chapter 7. Transgender in a Global Frame

This article discusses the subtle discursive shifts which have simultaneously made transgenderism in the USA and Europe into a mark of the historically specific definitional cleaving of homosexuality from gender variance, a trendy and stylistic shift from gender androgyny within lesbian communities to gender variance within gender-queer communities, a sign of an internal split within feminism between the stabilization of the category of woman and the undermining of the coherence of the category within queer theory. At the same time, this article demonstrates how transgenderism has been installed within a ‘global gay’ system as part of the hegemony of US taxonomies—the addition of ‘T’ to the acronym ‘LGBT’ allows for the neat division and explanation of a very wide range of translocal phenomena in terms of the US model. So, how are we to understand and explain the impact of transgenderism upon not only traditional gendering but also upon queer communities and even on the ebb and flow of sexual and gender definition globally?
Jack Halberstam

Chapter 8. INTER*me: An Inter-Locution on the Body in Photography

Photographer, ‘part time gender terrorist’, and now, as twice-parent (‘Ma-Pa’), Del LaGrace Volcano engages in conversation with friends and fellow gender travelers on herm’s latest photographic series, titled INTER*me. Their ‘inter-locution’ interleaves herm’s most recent images with some of herm’s earlier iconic photographs, as the discussion reflects on various interstices: between the body, aging and cultural ideals of beauty; between self-imaging, community representation, and familial connections; and between the technologies of gender and those of photography. The conversation reveals how the patterns in the INTER*me series interlock with those in Volcano’s oeuvre and ultimately also with the interwoven patterns of birth, life and death.
Del LaGrace Volcano, Jay Prosser, Eliza Steinbock

Chapter 9. Hermaphrodite’s Voice: Dealing with the Either-Or Attitude in Science, Law, and the Arts

This chapter situates resistances against the acceptance of inter- and transgendered persons in the either-or attitude governing human mind and action by disjunctive logic, and discusses ways to deal with it in the three realms of social reality, law, and in science and the arts. The attitude is identified in science’s tendency to create binary analytic tools, and in Antique forms of art production. It shows how sex/gender and nature/nurture distinctions reproduce a disjunctive attitude with violent potential on the level of theory. The third element to reality and theory is the imaginary. The way different art forms deal with irruptions of the gender binary offer interesting insights into the actual challenges of modern life, science, and art.
Michael Groneberg

Chapter 10. On the Intelligibility of Trans* and Intersex Characters in Contemporary British and American Fiction

The past decades have seen an unmistakable uptick in fiction starring trans* or intersex characters. The entrance of trans* and intersex characters into fictional space can potentially open up new narrative possibilities in representing characters who were, and sometimes still are, deemed hard to portray or seen as entirely unintelligible. Focusing on three novels in particular, Stone Butch Blues (1993) by Leslie Feinberg, Trumpet (1998) by Jackie Kay, and Middlesex (2002) by Jeffrey Eugenides, this paper traces the different modes of representation used in the novels, the way all three differ in their approach to their trans* and intersex protagonists, the concepts of gender, sex, and sexuality underlying these narratives, and to which degree the trans* and intersex lives are deemed viable and intelligible.
Mirjam M. Frotscher

Chapter 11. Boys Don’t Cry and Tomboy: A Comparative Analysis

The principal focus of this essay is a French film, Tomboy (2011), viewed through the prism of an earlier English-language film, Boys Don’t Cry (1999). Both films address the theme of cross-dressing and its effects on others, showing that the emotional and psychological reactions of close adults can have equally traumatic effects in the case of children as in that of teenagers. Both films therefore represent a plea for understanding of transsexual tendencies, whatever the age concerned, raising questions relating to sexual maturity and the rights of the individual. The discussion draws on the relevant discourses of queer theory, principally the work of Judith Butler, and on appropriate Freudian and Jungian ideas.
John Phillips


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