Trans issues have been on the minds of many this summer (the Huffington Post has a whole page of articles that were written on the topic in the last couple of months), the result of several “bathroom bills” across the country that ban transgender individuals from using the bathroom of the gender they identify as. In light of these events philosophers have been taking up the issue too, and trying to fit trans issues into the various paradigms they use for understanding social phenomena.
The difficulty of understanding the concept of trans stems from the way it presents itself neither as a third gender category nor as one of the two traditional concepts of gender. Conceiving of trans requires threading the needle such that it is rendered visible yet not fundamentally different from other gender categories. Then there is the additional question of the role choice and determination play in the transgender identity as well as the slew of health, legal, political, and other issues about how to incorporate transgendered individuals into society. While the issue is far from settled, here are several important articles and books that will introduce some of the ways philosophers have thought about trans issues thus far, how transgendered individuals think about themselves, and the various issues associated with being trans.
- David Valentine, “Sue E. Generous: Toward a Theory of Non-Transexuality,” Feminist Studies, Spring 2012, pp. 185-211.
- Tim Johnston, “Questioning the Threshold of Sexual Difference: Irigarayan Ontology and Transgender, Intersex, and Gender-Nonconforming Being,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies, 2015.
- Henry Rubin, “Phenomenology as Method in Trans Studies,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies, 1998.
- Viviane Namaste, Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People, University of Chicago Press, 2000.
- Evan B. Towle and Lynn M. Morgan, “Romancing the Transgender Native: Rethinking the Use of the “Third Gender” Concept,” 2002.