Grad School Essays

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For the same reason that any bully weaponizes referential speech by making up names, repeating cruel epithets, etc.

Misgendering and deadnaming are modes of abuse, designed to humiliate and hurt trans people.

That protocol is: no, deadnaming and misgendering are not acceptable scholarly practices, and no, despite Reed’s claims to “reasoned variety,” they are not covered by the principle of academic freedom.

No, deadnaming and misgendering are not acceptable scholarly practices, and they are not covered by the principle of academic freedom!!! Why are the fascists so obsessed with trans people?

And why does that obsession seem to affect university professors whose politics seem, in other respects, impeccably liberal?

The answer is not just that fascists rise by stoking the desire to patrol boundaries and bodies — sexual, reproductive, national and racial — although certainly it is also that. I have in my own conversations with students and colleagues always tried to emphasize the differences between vile-but-protected speech, and those kinds of speech (threats, harassment, shouting fire in a crowded theater) which are not, and should not be, protected.

Full disclosure: I’ve met Chris Reed a couple of times, some years ago, and he has recently published on a topic close to that of my forthcoming book. I’ve had to quell a couple of reservations in order to write about this topic.

First, because my own experiences coming out have been mostly very affirming and powerful, both in my home department at Berkeley (thanks above all to the leadership and tenacity of my chair Steve Justice and department manager Linda Fitzgerald) and in my scholarly field, Victorian studies.

The manifesto’s answer seemed to be the same as that of the Trump administration: consign us to our old names, strip us of the pronoun changes that we have so peremptorily demanded that the world accommodate, and tell us that they are doing so for the sake of truth and our mental health.

Or, as the author Christopher Reed puts it, he wants to “allow for a reasoned variety of pronoun address and citation.” And what, , could be more liberal than that?


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