[semi] daily academia

A new tradition on TPQ – I pick a random quotation from some random theorists/academic and twist it here to fit my own purposes – after all, that’s the academic experiment, right?

So, today on TPQ: “The ‘passing’ imperative, which begins from the moment a SRS-seeker enters a medical office and is sized up by a professional who will decide hir ‘realness’ and seriousness at least in part based on the success of the presentation of a gender norm, is an essential regulating aspect of the process of ‘transsexual’ (and ‘non-transsexual’) production.” (Spade 2006: 323). [a sidenote: check the queer as read page for the details of the reference – I’m too lazy to  put it here for you – plus, that’d be too easy].

How shall I twist this one? My procedure for choosing it was that I opened a box of notecards that are joyously not sorted yet for the penning of the thesis, and blindly chose one. Actually, not blindly… I kind of ignored two or three before picking up this one. But you wouldn’t have liked the others – they were quite boring. So, perhaps I should twist this piece to explain something completely non-trans-related?

Ok, so here goes: What if we replace “gender” with “class”? What if there’s a passing imperative for those of us of a different class than the mainstream? It’s true that most people self-identify as middle class even when their situations would say they are far above or far below middle class… yet there’s something that makes them want to identify themselves with the middle class – the same way the trans passing imperative compels trans individuals to identify with one or the other normative genders. So, there’s a class regulating process similar to regulatory gender norms… this makes complete sense to me. Here’s one reason why: Both trans and class identities are corporeal – they can be read and written on physical bodies. We can see gender digression and we can see class transgression on the bodies of those we meet in our social worlds – and this is important, because we then regulate these appearances based on physical bodies – for both class and gender. We regulate gender norms by compelling trans individuals to seek SRS and to neatly fit into our normative gender categories. We ask those of other classes – especially lower classes, people like me – to change our clothing, our hair, and the we walk, talk, and gesture in order to fit normative class categorizations – in order to appear more middle class.

So, theoretical gem of the day: class, like gender, is a regulatory process that rests on forces of normativity.


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