Transsexual Rhetorics: Self-determination in Late Capitalism

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NEMLA)
contact email: 

Sex (biology) and gender (culture) were teased apart and are currently being collapsed, an interesting rhetorical history in itself. Often under-explored out of concern for the rights of transsexual/transgendered people, these shifts in logic and rhetoric potentially reveal new relationships between biology and culture, oppression and late capitalism, and vulnerability and privilege. The relationships potentially reveal cultural assumptions and expose the forces of normalization. 

Recognizing the human right of self-determination, this panel seeks to nuance the rhetorics of transsexuality and understand the conflicting logics within transsexual discourse. Although not limited to these approaches, proposed papers might consider one of these issues.

(1) The medico-industrial complex and Big Pharma has rapidly embraced bodily interventions. For example, the pharmaceutical giant Gilead created TRANScend Community Impact Fund, which donates 4.5 million to trans-organization. Multiple market analysis predict that surgeries are increasing and expected to cost $968 million by 2024. MarketWatch sees future profits given a 25% growth in surgeries. Do profit motives propel and normalize some of these interventions? What are their rhetorical strategies?

(2) In light of the scandal of Jessica Krug and Rachel Dolezal claiming they are transracial, what are the differing logics between claiming a race and claiming a sex?

(3) Do transsexual rhetorics rupture or reinforce binary thinking? In what ways?

(4) Are there categorial issues of gender identity that can be meaningfully addressed? How does gender infiltrate biological sex? For example, with the influx of transwomen from men’s prisons to women’s prisons, are there or should there be definitional expectations on sexual identification?