chapter  3
21 Pages

Telling Trans Stories: (Un)doing the Science of Sex


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A signifi cant body of trans1 theory (see, for example Bornstein 1994, 1998; Feinberg 1996, 1998; Wilchins 1997) investigates the specifi city of trans experience and what this can tell us about the relationships between embodied difference, cultural norms and social power (Stryker 2006). This work, together with the work of Stone (1991), Prosser (1998), Namaste (2000), Whittle (2006), Whittle Turner, Al Alami (2007), Halberstam (2005) and Hines (2006, 2007a) emerged from the 1990s at the conjunction of feminist, poststructuralist and queer theory. This body of theory works against the more abstract theorisations of gender, where the transgendered have, in many ways, functioned as the emblematic ideal postmodern subjects; multiple in their narratives, produced through a range of sometimes contradictory stories, scripts, and accounts. As Stryker argues ‘“transgender” became an over determined construct, like “cyborg” through which contemporary culture imagined a future fi lled with new possibilities for being human, or posthuman’ (Stryker 2006: 8). This turn to the specifi city of experience within trans theory can be located in a broader critique of postmodern and specifi cally queer theory, in particular of its textuality and theoretically driven writing as a retreat from empirical engagement with the messiness of the social world (see Seidman 1995, 1996; Hines 2006b, 2007; Back 2007; Rooke 2009).