I’m happy to say that I’ll be presenting my paper, Becoming transgressive: Transgender autonomy and action at and beyond the margins, at this year’s AAG (Association of American Geographers) conference. I will be part of a panel session discussing Assembling life at the “margin”: Critical assemblage thinking and urban marginality, organized by Michele Lancione. The paper touches on some of the themes, theory, and tactics that I’ll be eventually working on in my dissertation.
Among many injustices confronting transgender individuals, spatial oppression is especially pervasive. From policing bathroom access, for example, to street harassment by police, (cis)gendered urban public space, and mundane urban existence, is highly inhospitable. Yet, this oppression is applied unevenly, depending entirely on the assessment by non-transgender people of gender performance. In reality, actual transgender experience of oppression is neither static nor consistent.
Creating the other half of the double bind is political marginalization of transgender people by the LGBT movement to which they nominally belong. The acronym can be styled “GLb(t)” in order to emphasize decreasing power, agency, and resources. In response, transgender people often exercise more agency while operating beyond the margins of GLb(t). This creates an ironic “becoming marginal” by an already marginal population.
Simultaneously, trans liberation initiatives have become more agile, informal, and distributed. Transgender agents have used social media and digital networks to widen the cracks and create spaces for transgender theorizing, organizing, visibility, and action outside GLb structures. Transgender individuals are creating flexible, temporal, rhizomatic networks and assemblages that respond to the needs at hand. Theoretical constructs such as the assemblage, rhizome, and war machine, then, help identify opportunities, strategies, and tactics for transgender political action that decenter the importance of attachment to heirarchical GLb(t) lobbies and, rather, center the autonomy and agency of trans* people ourselves in the struggle for multiple arrangements of spatial and political liberation–at and beyond the margin.