Transgender, Third Gender, No Gender: Part I

Rights Perspectives on Laws Assigning Gender

Intersex and trans activists and their allies contend that the right to “recognition everywhere as a person before the law,” protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, means that no one should be required to live with a gender marker that doesn’t fit them. As long as people are required to present official documents bearing a gender marker, states should not only allow people to change from “F” to “M” and vice versa; they should also provide them with an “X” or equivalent option. Otherwise, the binary nature of the documents will inevitably exclude people who are non-binary, whether they are also intersex or not.

Books and movies keep creating transgender aggressors. But trans people are far more likely to be victims of violence

In the recent Netflix documentary “Disclosure,” clips of transgender television and movie characters flash up on screen in rapid succession. Again and again, we see similar images: murderers, sociopaths and sexual predators.

Judith Butler on the culture wars, JK Rowling and living in “anti-intellectual times”

The philosopher and gender theorist discusses tensions in the feminist movement over trans rights.

Thirty years ago, the philosopher Judith Butler*, now 64, published a book that revolutionized popular attitudes on gender. Gender Trouble, the work she is perhaps best known for, introduced ideas of gender as performance. It asked how we define “the category of women” and, as a consequence, who it is that feminism purports to fight for. Today, it is a foundational text on any gender studies reading list, and its arguments have long crossed over from the academy to popular culture.

In the three decades since Gender Trouble was published, the world has changed beyond recognition. In 2014, TIME declared a “Transgender Tipping Point”. Butler herself has moved on from that earlier work, writing widely on culture and politics. But disagreements over biological essentialism remain, as evidenced by the tensions over trans rights within the feminist movement.

How does Butler, who is Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature at Berkeley, see this debate today? And does she see a way to break the impasse? Butler recently exchanged emails with the New Statesman about this issue. The exchange has been edited.


Has anyone else had the feeling that by becoming consumed by your own thoughts, fears, and worries you are somehow doing a disservice to all the people out there living as their authentic selves every day even though they may share the same worries as you do while you sit at home beating yourself down for things which aren’t your fault and likely can do nothing about.

It’s true, it is always easier to keep your head down and hide than stand up and demand what is due to you as a individual, a person, a human being worthy of love and respect. I suppose it comes down to how much those things are worth to you and how hard you are willing to work to get them.

Trans people have bigger fish to fry, so stop giving gaslighting transphobes your headlines

It’s time to stop writing about transphobia like it’s celebrity clickbait.

“instead of scrolling past TikToks of budgies singing Beyoncé, we are faced with the reality of a climate of transphobia both online and in person. An environment that is unforgiving, and often unnecessary.”