Transgender Marxism: an Introduction
In recent years, there has been unprecedented growth in the visibility and sheer number of people who identify with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. Trans life and, with it, a whole world of trans culture—aesthetics, style, taste—has broken from the margins into the mainstream. This new generation of “gender subversives” is, at the same time, inordinately active in left-wing politics and radical movements, vigorously resisting the historical tendency of capitalism to subsume and profit from the mainstreaming of emergent, especially subversive subcultures. In every sort of liberation struggle—from prison abolition to racial justice to climate and labor activism—trans voices are raised in disproportionate numbers, equipped with a distinctively Marxist vocabulary. What might account for this broad and super-charged convergence of trans life and Marxist politics? How does a historical materialist framework shape and sharpen the demands of trans life? And how, in turn, might the struggle for gender liberation reconfigure Marxist analysis? Are there assumptions that this coupling can, and should, put forth for revision?
In this course, we will explore what a “transgender Marxism” might mean, at the theoretical level, and what it might afford, at the level of practical politics. We will read widely, from classic texts by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Rosa Luxemburg, to pathbreaking works in queer theory, including Judith Butler and Sara Ahmed, to the foundational text of queer Marxist theory, Mario Meili’s Towards a Gay Communism, and its most current iteration, the new anthology Transgender Marxism. What does a historical materialist approach to gender actually look like, and what can it do? How does trans life change our understanding of social reproduction? Can a transgender Marxism more effectively confront and combat the right-wing assault on trans life?
Course ScheduleSunday, 2:00-5:00pm ET
April 16 — May 07, 2023