Thursday, July 24, 2014

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Transgender Advocate Teaches for Jesuit Seattle University

A law professor from the Jesuit Seattle University, whom one magazine called “America’s first openly transgender law professor,” this week delivered a lecture on transgender issues at DePaul University, also a Catholic institution. The same professor lectured at Santa Clara University last year.

Law professor Dean Spade’s views are beyond radical. Spade’s quest for public acceptance of sex transformation looks to dismantle the “myth of biological binary gender” altogether by changing the language used to refer to people. “We can use ‘people who menstruate’ or ‘people who are pregnant’ or ‘people who produce sperm’ or other terms like these rather than using ‘male,’ ‘female’ or ‘pregnant women’ as a proxy for these statuses,” Spade wrote in an online article titled “Purportedly Gendered Body Parts.

Instead of using the terms “his” or “her,” Spade’s 2003 article in the Berkeley Women’s Law Journal proposes the gender-neutral pronouns “sie”(pronounced “see”) and “hir” (pronounced “here”), because they “resist the need to categorize all subjects neatly into male and female categories.”

Spade once called for the elimination of gender categorization in most government record-keeping. "I really don't think that data needs to be on our IDs or gathered by most agencies and institutions," Spade said, according to Newsbusters.

In a recent interview with the McGill Reporter, Spade encouraged some other changes, including decriminalizing prostitution, getting rid of surgery requirements for changing gender on government ID cards, decriminalizing drugs and even eliminating sex offender registries. Spade called them all “vitally important” to “trans political visions of a world without prisons, border, or poverty.”

And a “Dean Spade” article in favor of polyamory has been reprinted and cited widely across the internet:

As a jealous person, I’m interested in building love and trust with people that does not hinge on sexual exclusivity, because part of my jealousy, and maybe part of the jealously implied in the cultural drama repeatedly portrayed on TV of “The Other Woman,” “The Affair” and the heart crushing trust-violating meaning placed on sex outside a relationship, is that desire always exceeds any container—and we all know that from experiencing our own desire. No matter how much we love and want and adore and are hot for our partners, we also experience desire outside that dyad, and the myth of romance (one person out there for each of us, find them, love them, buy things with them and you’ll be happy forever), which we’re all drilled with from birth ’til death, makes this knowledge terribly threatening. So the point, for me, becomes recognizing that commitment and love and interest in someone else’s well being does not necessarily include a deadening of all sexual desire for other people, or trying to unlearn the belief that it does. The point for me is to create relationships based on deeper and more real notions of trust. So that love becomes defined not by sexual exclusivity, but by actual respect, concern, commitment to act with kind intentions, accountability for our actions, and a desire for mutual growth.

Spade opposes advocates of same-sex marriage—not to defend marriage, but because legally defining same-sex partnerships is not progressive enough. The Seattle University professor co-wrote an article at OrganizingUpgrade.com, claiming that marriage centered on love and children is a “societal myth.”

“Civil marriage is a tool of social control used by governments to regulate sexuality and family formation by establishing a favored form and rewarding it,” Spade wrote.

“Feminist, anti-racist, and anti-colonial social movements have contested this, identifying marriage as a system that violently enforces sexual and familial norms,” Spade continued. “From these social movements, we understand marriage as a technology of social control, exploitation, and dispossession wrapped in a satin ribbon of sexist and heteropatriarchal romance mythology.”

And, Spade wrote, “We don’t want to marry, we just want to [have sex].”

Spade complained that the same-sex marriage advocacy machine “has lined up with right wing family values rhetoric and policy to undo the work of our movements to gradually dismantle marriage.”

While all this information is available through simple internet searches, Spade features much of it on a personal website. There’s also evidence that these views find their way into the classroom. On a syllabus of a 2012 Seattle University law school course on “Imprisonment and Justice,” taught by Professor Spade, one of three required books is titled Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex.

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.

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