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Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Lawby Dean Spade
Synopses & Reviews
Internationally, according to the Equity Network, the average lifespan of a transgender person is 23 years. The abysmal life chances for trans people here and globally are most often due to violence: police violence and outright murder, to be sure, but also the administration of the seemingly banal state and legal frameworks that invisibly define the most basic contours of everyday life. Within these frameworks, where being trans is not even an acknowledged possibility and the systems in place aggravate some with long lines at the DMV while imperiling the survival of many others, what guarantees can anti-discrimination, equal access, or equal protection laws actually deliver? This question is particularly critical in the current neoliberal context, with popular social movements paradoxically centered on appeals for "equality" by the most privileged within marginalized communities. But if we are to save our own lives, we must not to be sidetracked from the struggle for comprehensive justice. Rather, we must make the necessary interventions into dangerous intersectional systems of repression—and demand the most essential of legal reforms—while remaining steadfast on the path toward liberation.
Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law is the highly anticipated full-length book debut by Dean Spade, heralded as a deeply influential voice on trans and queer liberation struggles. Setting forth a politic that goes beyond the quest for mere legal inclusion, Spade illustrates how and why we must seek nothing less than the radical transformations justice and liberation require.
A trans activist, attorney, and educator, Dean Spade has taught classes on sexual orientation, gender identity, and law at CUNY, Seattle University, and Harvard University. In 2002 he founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a collective that provides free legal services and works to build trans resistance rooted in racial and economic justice.
A truly revolutionary text that centers radical law reform as an essential and urgent struggle on the path toward trans-liberation.
Wait—whats wrong with rights?
Much of the legal advocacy for trans and gender nonconforming people in the US has reflected the civil rights and equality” strategies of mainstream gay and lesbian organizations—agitating for legal reforms that would ostensibly guarantee equal access, nondiscrimination, and equal protection under the law. This approach assumes that the state and its legal, policing, and social services apparatus—even its policies and documents of belonging and non-belonging—are neutral and benevolent. While we all have to comply with the gender binaries set forth by regulatory bodies of law and administration, many trans people, especially the most marginalized, are even more at risk for poverty, violence, and premature death by virtue of those same neutral” legal structures.
Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law raises revelatory critiques of the current strategies pivoting solely on a legal rights framework,” but also points to examples of an organized grassroots trans movement that is demanding the most essential of legal reforms in addition to making more comprehensive interventions into dangerous systems of repression—and the administrative violence that ultimately determines our life chances. Setting forth a politic that goes beyond the quest for mere legal inclusion, Normal Life is an urgent call for justice and trans liberation, and the radical transformations it will require.
An attorney, educator, and trans activist, Dean Spade has taught classes on sexual orientation, gender identity, poverty and law at the City University of New York (CUNY), Seattle University, Columbia University, and Harvard. In 2002 he founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a collective that provides free legal services and works to build trans resistance rooted in racial and economic justice.
About the Author
Currently on the faculty of Seattle University, Dean Spade has taught at Columbia and Harvard Law Schools and was a Williams Institute Law Teaching Fellow at UCLA Law School. He focuses on classes related to sexual orientation and gender identity law and law and social movements.
In 2002, Spade founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. SRLP also engages in litigation, policy reform and public education on issues affecting these communities and operates on a collective governance model, prioritizing the governance and leadership of trans, intersex, and gender variant people of color. From 1998-2006, Dean co-edited the paper and online zine Make. Dean is currently the co-editor of the online journal Enough, which focuses on the personal politics of wealth redistribution.
Spade was awarded the prestigious Dukeminier Award for his 2008 article "Documenting Gender" and the 2009-2010 Haywood Burns Chair at CUNY Law School, and was selected to give the 2009-2010 James A. Thomas Lecture at Yale.
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