A law professor from the Jesuit Seattle University, whom one magazine called “America’s first openly transgender law professor,” will host an on-campus discussion with transgender activists next month, reports the News Tribune.
Professor Dean Spade will present “Trans Liberation and the Carceral State: A Panel of National Transgender Activists,” which the News Tribune described this way:
The “National trans* prison activists, advocates, and researchers will share their perspective on the social and structural challenges that the law, police, and prisons pose on the lives of transgender, gender variant, and gender non-conforming people in the U.S.
Speakers include Janetta Louise Johnson, program coordinator for the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice group. Its website describes Johnson this way:
Janetta Louise Johnson is an Afro-American Transsexual from Tampa, Florida. She moved to San Francisco in 1997, where she has worked in various capacities at non-profits and social service agencies. She recently survived 3 years in federal prison and is committed to developing strategies and interventions to reduce the recidivism rate of the transgender community.
Another speaker, Eric Stanley, “works at the intersections of radical trans/queer politics, theories of state violence, and visual culture,”according to Academia.edu.
Alisha Williams is an attorney with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. “We want a policy that lets transgender people have birth certificates that show our true genders,” states the SRLP on its website. “We want the policy to reflect the individualized nature of trans healthcare and experience, not to require specific arbitrary forms of treatment or documentation that are not right for all of us.”
Spade, the panel’s moderator, seeks 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.”
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.”
Next month’s event is reportedly sponsored by Seattle University’s Wismer Center for Gender and Diversity, the Department of Criminal Justice and Center for the Study of Crime and Justice, and the College of Arts and Sciences.
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