"We need a refusal of the fixed and permanent quality of the binary opposition, a genuine historicization and deconstruction of the terms of sexual difference." 40-41
Established as an objective set of references, concepts of gender structure perception and the concrete and symbolic organization of all social life. To the extent that these references establish distributions of power (differential control over or access to material and symbolic resources), gender becomes implicated in the conception and construction of power itself. (45)
It is not sexuality which haunts society, but society which haunts the body's sexuality. (45, qtd in Scott)
As with denunciations of sadomasochism, panics about childhood sexuality and pedophilia serve to moralize sexual object choice--and hence to valorize certain normative choices and to justify the oppression of queer people; as Rubin's study of sex panics suggest, once one moralizes desire, there is potentially no sexual "choice" secure from the violent incursions of state control, official or otherwise. 8
...Fuck the social order and the figural children paraded before us as its terroristic emblem; fuck Annie; fuck the waif from Les Miz; fuck the poor innocent kid on the 'Net; fuck Laws both with capital 'l's and with small; fuck the whole network of symbolic relations and the future that serves as its prop.
Such "self-evident" one-sidedness--the affirmation of a value so unquestioned, because so obviously unquestionable, as that of the child whose innocence solicits our defense--is precisely, of course, what distinguishes public service announcements from the partisan discourse of political argumentation. But it is also, I suggest, what makes such announcements so oppressively political--political not in the partisan terms implied by the media consultant, but political in a far more insidious way: political insofar as the fantasy subtending the image of the child invariably shapes the logic within which the political itself must be thought. That logic compels us, to the extent that we would register as politically responsible, to submit to the framing of political debate--and indeed of the political field--as defined by the terms of what this book describes as reproductive futurism: terms that impose an ideological limit on political discourse as such, preserving in the process the absolute privilege of heteronormativity by rendering unthinkable, by casting outside of the political domain, the possibility of a queer resistance to this organizing principle of communal relations. 2
For politics, however radical the means by which specific constituencies attempt to produce a more desirable social order remains, at its core, conservative insofar as it works to affirm a structure, to authenticate social order, which it then intends to transmit to the future in the form of its inner child. That Child remains the perpetual horizon of every acknowledged politics, the fantasmic beneficiary of every political intervention. 2–3
Indeed, at the heart of my polemical engagement with the cultural text of politics and the politics of cultural text lies a simple provocation: that queerness names the side of those not "fighting for the children," the side outside the consensus by which all politics confirms the absolute values of reproductive futurism. The ups and downs of political fortune may measure the social order's pulse, but queerness, by contrast, figures, outside and beyond its political symptoms, the place of the social order's death drive: a place, to be sure, of abjection expressed in the stigma, sometimes fatal, that follows from reading t6hat figure literally, and hence a place from which liberal politics strives--and strives quite reasonably, given its unlimited faith in reason--to disassociate the queer. More radically, though, as I argue here, queerness attains its ethical value precisely insofar as it accedes to that place, accepting its figural status as resistance to the viability of the social while insisting on the inextricability of such resistance from every social structure. 3
Truth, like queerness, irreducibly linked to the "aberrant or atypical," to what chafes against "normalization," finds its value not in a good susceptible to generalization, but only in the stubborn particularity that voids every notion of a general good. The embrace of queer negativity, then, can have no justification if justification requires it to reinforce some positive social value; its value, instead, resides in its challenge to value as defined by the social, and thus in its radical challenge to the very value of the social itself. 6
There is an assumption running in our midst that sex can be cordoned off as some sort of transcendent phenomenon, a pure expression of nature that is, or ought to be, innocent of politics and commercial exchange. 34
"Why are you queer?" is less a question than a challenge to one's civil rights. One is not permitted to answer casually and say, "Because it feels good" or "Because no one is stopping me." One must look desperately to scientific and religious theories that are often no more plausible than Schreiber's God. Like Schreiber, one finds oneself playing paranoid martyr and paranoid detective. One says: I can't help it. Because God loves me. Because the devil is real. It was my mother, my father, my brother, my teacher, the man next door. It was a fatal book I read once. It's hormonal. It's in my genes. I have a teeny neeny hypothalamus and it keeps whispering in my ear, "It must really be rather pleasant to be a woman succumbing to intercourse." Why do you ask?
To me, being transgender is so much about the hope of change, of transformation. While political posters promise change, I hope for a change no president can create. As long as we have been human, we have also been dog, wolf, bear, snake, cat, goddess, spirit, tree. Perhaps in the trans longing to become something else, one can see the deep desire for connection and transformation, the age-old longing to become more than we are. Perhaps with the unfolding of new technologies of transformation. we can shake off the regimes of government, religion, and science which seek to define and limit us and tell us that we are only what we are now. At the root of my performance and at the beginning of action is the hope for the possibility of another world. Along with an acceptance of uncertainty that we can never truly know the outcome of our actions, we act with the hope that our actions will make our lives, and those of others, better than they are today.
For me, being an outlaw, being a class of person that the law does not address, means thinking beyond oppressed and oppressor. Outlaws are more than victims or charity recipients. Because we exist outside the laws, we shed light on the arbitrariness of these very laws. Accept that a trans woman is a woman and you have freed yourself once and for all from the dogma that to be female is to be a baby-making (or potential baby-making) machine. Accept that a trans woman is human and add another piece of evidence that we are more and other than the morphology of our bodies, our appearance, and our histories. In a society that preys on a woman's insecurity, any woman who feels beautiful inside and out is a gender outlaw. And when a trans woman can do this, despite the institutions closed to her, she should be celebrated, never scorned.
Being an outlaw means understanding that freedom is not a zero sum game. Freedom depends on its abundance. For it to mean anything more than another layer of oppression, my emancipation necessitates the emancipation of others—even of those who have oppressed me. (151)