So this post will be a bit different from the others in that it is not about the law. But I thought since today is the beginning of the arbitrary “Women’s History Month,” I might as well use the occasion to give y’all a glimpse into a project I’m working on. That project is Reading The Dialectic Of Sex, a comprehensive companion book to Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex. Firestone is one of the great feminist theorist, and particularly her contribution to feminism is valuable to those of us who are Marxists because it employs historical materialism rather than liberalism, post-structuralism, etc. So see below for a draft of the first chapter, and I would love to hear any feedback:
Barney Frank may be three years into retirement from politics, but his spirit continues to haunt the LGBTQ movement. As if to emphasize the exclusionary nature of their politics, a invite-only conference call between the “leaders” of the LGBTQ US movement rehashed a debate that has been going on since the so-called “Gay Liberation” movement decided that Sylvia Rivera and other trans women were harmful to their respectable image. The debate was sharply divided into two sides: purse string holders Gill Foundation and National Center for Trans Equality (NCTE) on one side and ACLU, Lambda Legal, and a somewhat less confrontational HRC on the other side. Gill and NCTE are advocating for what they call “incrementalism,” focusing energy and resources on passing anti-LGBT discrimination in employment and housing and essentially abandoning public accommodations to be dealt with later. ACLU and Lambda Legal reject this “incrementalism,” pointing to laws like HB2 as pressing discrimination that demands attention and questioning whether public accommodations would ever be returned to if abandoned now. That’s right: we are in a bizzarro world where the HRC is defending the most marginalized trans people against NCTE redirecting resources away from them. But aside from HRC, this lineup is not all that surprising and represents a fundamental difference between how the lobbying-focused nonprofits think of advocacy and how community and litigation-focused nonprofits think of advocacy.
I often get asked by people, mostly other trans women, about law school: what it is like for me and whether they should enroll. When it is a trans woman, I always ask, “Have you read Dean Spade’s For Those Considering Law School?” Usually they have, a combination of affirmation at knowing this piece of radical text and anxiety at its implications plays on their face as they begin to list off what they believe are the truisms of the piece.
At this point I usually interrupt: “Ignore it. Ignore all of it. Especially for you, especially for our community, completely ignore it. Deciding to go to law school is an incredibly difficult decision informed by criminal records, debt, pathways to providing for your family (biological or chosen), and professionalism. And Dean Spade’s piece does not help navigate any of it.”