Society for Philosophy and Culture seminar, held at McMaster University, Canada, in December 2013, as part of our series "Environment, Identity, Place". Miqqi Alicia Gilbert speaks on "Pass or Die: Is There Life Without Gender?" with responses by Carys Massarella and Sharlee Reimer.
Judith Butler famously said that to be understandable as a person, to make sense as a human being, one must be gendered in accordance with the standard social conventions. There’s no such thing as a person who is not a woman or a man. You must be, “gendered in conformity with recognisable standards of gender intelligibility”. If you are not, then you are not a person and because of that you have no rights, no protections, and, often, no legal status. Thus you cannot exist as a trans person, but only as a conforming member of the gender binary. In other words, the cost of personhood is the invisibility of trans, a price that may not be too dear for some, is impossible for others, and demands deception for all. In this talk I will discuss the significance of this, what it means, and how it traps us without our permission or choice.
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