Dean Spade’s ‘Critical Trans Politics’

n his book, Normal Life, Spade uses critical race theory, women-of-color feminism, and other intellectual traditions to analyze the role of law reform in contemporary queer and trans politics. He examines the poverty, violence, criminalization and immigration-enforcement facing trans populations, and questions the utility of anti-discrimination law and hate-crimes laws for addressing these harms. He proposes that a critical trans politics is emerging that rejects law reform as a goal and engages tactically with legal work as it attempts to dismantle apparatuses of racialized-gendered violence like prisons and borders and build alternative structures that meaningfully address contemporary conditions of poverty and violence.

Dean Spade will visit City College Monday, October 28.  Photo: Johanna Breidling.
Dean Spade will visit City College Monday, October 28.
Photo: Johanna Breidling.











If you aren’t yourself an LGBTQ person or activist, you’d be forgiven for believing LGBTQ rights movements begin and end with marriage rights.

Marriage equality debates have dominated public discourse related to LGBTQ civil rights. And many activists claim it is to the exclusion of crucial policy discussions addressing struggles many LGBTQ people face—particularly youth, people of color, the economically challenged, and those who identify as gender non-conforming, intersex, or transgender.

Dean Spade, a lawyer and transgender rights activist, was focused on addressing the vulnerability of these intersecting populations when he founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a legal aid organization, in 2002 with the mission to help transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. He recognized the high levels of poverty and over-incarceration among these communities and directly addressed the correlation between economic injustice and gender discrimination. Continue reading “Dean Spade’s ‘Critical Trans Politics’”