On ending gender

When I say, as I sometimes do, that I am for the abolition of gender, I do not mean to attack the positions of trans people who, as men and women, are the most honest version of themselves. What I propose is that gender categories (cis and otherwise) are a mechanism we use in enforcing gendered control over one another. I have speculated before that the category of “men” would not exist in a world free from gender-based oppression. I think I can go further than that and suggest that ending oppression through gender requires ending control through gender, and that gendered control will exist as long as we maintain the gender system.

The (white/European/Christian/post-Enlightenment) gender system as we know it has flexed to accommodate some of the categories theorized by trans feminism. The contemporary political project of distilling the experience of trans people into language that the system can absorb has borne some legislative and cultural fruit, but it has also led to outbreaks of newly emergent systems of control within and between trans populations. Pop-medical and pop-metaphysical theories of trans gender are used to such ends as the enforcement of purity codes and the delegitimation and colonization of the cultures of trans communities of color. The hegemony of categories admits some (which?) trans genders to its ranks and its grip tightens.

My instinct is that a world in which we are free must be a world without gender, and I hope for such a world. I don’t imagine us living there as flattened creatures, all adopting an “unmarked” (white) androgyny. I take note of the hypervariegated yearnings of our bodies today, and imagine them flourishing.