Essay about An Ethnography Of The Transgender Identity

1016 Words Nov 28th, 2016 5 Pages
It is the subscript of David Valentine’s Imagining Transgender – an ethnography of a category that clues in readers to the important fascinating turn his work takes across its three hundred some odd pages. Unlike other academic works up through the time of its publication (2007) which have tended to align a particular transgender experience with queer-studies (Feinberg 1997, Wilchins 2004), autobiographical/ “insider” narratives (Boylan 2003/2013; Bornstein 1993), or social service primers (Lev 2004), Valentine’s research instead interrogates the disciplinary/State construction of the transgender identity itself. By comparing such bounded epistemology against the often contradictory personal definitions of those trans*-community members he encounters as an outreach volunteer for the Gender Identity Project of the LGBT Center in New York City, Valentine reveals a startling gap between institutional classification of transgender and individuals’ sense of gender that without adequate reflexivity the trans*-woman or trans*-man, reader (cis or trans*) and even the anthropological ethnographer risks tumbling into.
II. Paragraph 2 The problem is. Valentine argues, an institutional/disciplinary failure of language and grammar, a failure to accurately define a signifying identity (a noun) that not only transcends but cuts across a society’s many identifying binaries (as a verb) - therefor making itself available to an elevated level of Lacanian slippage. In this way his…

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