Transgender Representation and the Politics of the Real in the United States
Routledge – 2016 – 240 pages
Trans people are becoming increasingly visible in popular culture, academia, and national politics, yet there are profound disagreements in contemporary United States culture over what constitutes a person’s "real" gender and whether it ever really can be changed. Despite these disagreements, there remains a clear, abiding, and unquestioned commitment to gendered "realness" as a palpable substance, a possession that can be located and proven, even if it sometimes needs to be brought out of hiding.
Transgender Representation and the Politics of the "Real" in the United States shifts the structural dynamics of these academic and pop cultural debates by highlighting the ideology of gendered "realness" as an operation of power through which rights, privileges, and resources are distributed and denied. Beginning with the assumption that transgender identities are as socially necessary and "real" as any other gender identification, Boucher argues that this recognition does not preclude one from critically examining the cultural production of and demand for gendered "realness" as a primary function of power or recognizing its limitations as a narrative and political strategy for trans people.
Introduction 1. "I Am Human and I Am Real:" Trans Feminist Subjectivities, the Gendered "Real," and the Embodiment of Public Space 2. "Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Real Man?" Female-to-Male Transgender Representation in Loren Cameron’s Body Alchemy and Julie Wyman’s A Boy Named Sue 3. Reframing the Body: Contemporary Transsexual Autobiographies in Historical Perspective 4. "They Walk Among Us:" Duncan Tucker’s TransAmerica and Bree’s American Quest for "Realness" 5. The Right to Be "Real:" Contemporary Gender Determination Trials and the Material Stakes 6. Diagnosing Gender: The History and Politics of Gender Identity Disorder Conclusion: Politics and "Realness": Practical Implications and Material Consequences
Michel Boucher is a lecturer in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and English departments at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.