We have discussed the danger of focusing excessively on a single facet of personal or social identity, whether such a marker is one’s own or that of someone else. Audre Lorde touched on this–how she was frequently “encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of [herself] and present this as the meaningful whole–among other authors we’ve encountered so far in the course of the semester’s classwork (Lorde 120). This often gives us the false pretense of power at the expense of another. Or, sometimes it just feels necessary for survival.

The once mutually beneficial relationship between suffragettes and abolitionists is said to have seriously degraded after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. (This 1869 amendment gave African American men the right to vote, although this right was often blocked in actuality by other political maneuvers. Women did not receive the right to vote until 1920, although the actual uptake of this law went more smoothly for this group.) Many Second Wave feminists did not want to be associated with lesbians or any sort of pro-gay movements in the spirit for taking care of one’s own needs first. And, in David Valentine’s book Imagining Transgender, the author mentions the proposed Employment Non Discrimination Act’s exclusion of “‘gender identity or expression’ as a category of protection” (Valentine 9). (Such language was later incorporated in act, but the act was also dropped.) At any rate, it seems that a person can mount an [insert almost any social justice movement] campaign while still remaining entrenched in [insert almost any form of repression or hate], often simultaneously.

What Valentine pushed me to realize is that not only is identity multi-faceted, and not only can those multiple facets of identity be used against each other, but individual facets or markers, themselves, are multiplicitious. One aspect of such a facet or marker should not be privileged over another. No one version of being trans–being pre- or post-op, wanting to fully complete a re-assignment surgery–or wanting one at all–wanting a same sex partner or a partner of the opposite sex, being MTF or FTM, appearing “hard” or “soft”… the list goes on.

This is one way in which categorization is restrictive, instead of enabling. If we try to consolidate such a multiplicitous human experience into one category, people might begin holding themselves up to that experience comparatively. In the same way that people are judged–or judge themselves–for not measuring up to heteronormativity, for example, it would be harmful for people to hold themselves to a single, imagined, ahistorical, and ultimately impossible standard of being transgendered.

P.S. Check out this lovely creature:


In conclusion–don’t pluck, just fuck!


Lynn Beavin