Intersexuality, Transgender, and Transsexuality

by Talia Mae Bettcher, Ph.D.

With all of this commotion about trans activists and feminism colliding, now seems like a perfectly good time to share my new chapter “Intersexuality, Transsexuality, Transgender.”

The title is not my fault. If I had named it, it might be called “Toward a Genuinely Intersectional Trans Feminism.” Think of the chapter like this: What if “Feminist Perspectives on Trans Issues” and “Trapped in the Wrong Theory” had a baby? It’s forthcoming in Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory (eds. Mary Hawkesworth and Lisa Jane Disch, Oxford University Press).

The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory (Forthcoming) Edited by Lisa Disch and Mary Hawkesworth

This essay discusses the complex relations between feminist theory and trans and intersex theory and politics. It charts the emergence of a “beyond-the binary” model of oppression that frames trans and intersex oppression in terms of a hostile binary—a binary that forces out anything in-between the categories male/man and female/woman. This chapter shows how this model has unfortunately resulted in political impasse, particularly in articulating a feminism that sees trans and intersex oppression as intersecting with sexist oppression. The chapter excavates and interrogates the roots of this model in, for example, the responses of Sandy Stone and Kate Bornstein to the transphobic feminism of Janice Raymond, and provides an alternative way of conceptualizing trans and intersex oppression more congenial to an intersectional framework. It proceeds by taking seriously a specific form of transphobic sexual violation, namely, “reality enforcement.”


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