Stone Publishes “A Posttranssexual Manifesto” Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Allucquére Rosanne Stone’s cogent reply to writings by lesbian feminists, who had argued against gender-variance, established scholarly and public debate about gender identity and the nature of gender reassignment and led to a new openness among transgender persons.

Summary of Event

Throughout the 1970’s, assimilationist as well as separatist Lesbian separatism agendas polarized the character of moderate queer culture, creating an increasingly intolerant atmosphere for gender-variant people, including transsexuals. Lesbian-feminist writer Robin Morgan, Morgan, Robin for example, in her keynote address at the 1973 West Coast Lesbian Conference, denounced Beth Elliott, Elliott, Beth who is transgender and was then vice president of the San Francisco chapter of the lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis, as “an opportunist, an infiltrator, and a destroyer—with the mentality of a rapist.” In 1977, radical feminists demanded that Olivia Records, Olivia Records;and transsexual staff member[transsexual staff] a producer of music by and for women, dismiss transsexual audio engineer Allucquére Rosanne (Sandy) Stone (recruited for her experience with high-profile musicians at A&M Records), or they would boycott the company. [kw]Stone Publishes “A Posttranssexual Manifesto” (1991) [kw]Publishes “The Posttranssexual Manifesto,” Stone (1991) [kw]Posttranssexual Manifesto," Stone Publishes “The (1991) [kw]Manifesto,” Stone Publishes “The Posttranssexual (1991) "Posttranssexual Manifesto, A" (Stone)[Posttranssexual Manifesto, A] Transgender/transsexual manifesto[Transgender transsexual manifesto] Gender reassignment;and transsexuality[transsexuality] Sex/gender[sex gender];and transsexuality[transsexuality] [c]Transgender/transsexuality;1991: Stone Publishes “A Posttranssexual Manifesto”[2070] [c]Cultural and intellectual history;1991: Stone Publishes “A Posttranssexual Manifesto”[2070] [c]Publications;1991: Stone Publishes “A Posttranssexual Manifesto”[2070] Stone, Allucquére Rosanne Raymond, Janice Bornstein, Kate Feinberg, Leslie

The situation reached a head in 1979, when Janice Raymond published a version of her doctoral dissertation in which she asserted that “the problem of transsexuality would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.” Raymond’s work provided academic clout for existing prejudice, and although replete with factual errors, anger, and overt paranoia, Raymond’s book, The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male Transsexual Empire, The (Raymond) (1979), simultaneously raised substantive critiques of sociopolitical aspects of male-to-female (MTF) gender reassignment and the medical protocol that governs such transitions.

Stone’s “The ’Empire’ Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto” (pb. 1991), a response to Raymond presented at a conference eight years after Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire, squarely engages, and then transcends, Raymond’s critique on its own grounds, placing it in a broader, postmodern context. Utilizing the textual theory of French philosopher Jacques Derrida, Derrida, Jacques and proceeding also from the poststructuralist philosophy, critical social archaeology, and politics of résistance of the French critic Michel Foucault, Foucault, Michel Stone generated a “counter-discourse” to the hegemony of essentialism Essentialism —a theory that individuals have “essential,” or natural, personal attributes—shown in the works of Raymond and others, with a teleology that fragments and reconstitutes the elements of sex and gender, including eroticism. Stone’s deconstruction (further drawing on the work of scholars Judith Butler Butler, Judith and Judith Shapiro Shapiro, Judith and utilizing concepts of border theory, dissonance, and the political economy of the human body) lays bare the modern division between social and personal arenas of performance, highlights the totalizing power of institutional medicine, and expresses the dynamic interrelational association between queer and straight, and organic and manufactured, identities.

In cultures that authoritatively and thoroughly circumscribe all aspects of being human, Stone postulates that transsexuality highlights a politicized arena. This arena includes the fact of the ultimate and radical unknowability of the subject (the individual), which can be explored authentically and with the power and possibility of surprise.

Significance

Stone’s confrontation with Raymond’s work on semantic/didactic/rhetorical levels helped to open the field of transgender scholarship, balanced lopsided radical rants, and established a true debate. Stone’s direct engagement provided an “openness,” an air of disclosure beyond the call merely for individual transsexual “self-outing.” It remains a question whether Stone’s work alone effected, or even served as a bellwether for, sustained discourse concerning transgenderism. It is certain, however, that her manifesto crystallized and conveyed certain aspects of gender discourse both within and beyond the confines of the queer community, namely in the areas of theory, politics, and medicine.

Stone simultaneously questioned and subverted binary thinking by arguing that there exists a unified, coexisting plurality of genders within personal and public realms. This hybridity introduced a crisis for paradigms that insist on the singularity of identity, internal sufficiency, and normative knowledge because hybridity offers both a raison d’être and a mode of articulation that makes intelligible a space of new possibilities for gender expression and for living one’s gender. Stone proposed a radical hermeneutic, a violation of gender boundaries.

Perhaps the most socially recognizable effect of Stone’s manifesto of gender fluidity and hybridity was that the transgender and lesbian and gay communities in the 1990’s reconnected. Stone accomplished this coming together by arguing about the endless ways one can express gender. Genderqueer youth, especially, have accepted the often moment-to-moment fluidity of gender and sexual identities, and they have expressed this visual, linguistic, and erotic play as “genderfuck.” "Genderfuck," definition of[genderfuck] Certainly the most famous and adept practitioner of this art is Kate Bornstein, Bornstein, Kate who explicitly, in her work Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us Gender Outlaw (Bornstein) (1994), credits the possibility of “hir” “cut-and-paste” gender identity to Stone’s work.

Related to these theoretical watersheds, Stone initiated a crucial political turn within the queer community in the United States that had all but disappeared since 1968/1969 (when queer politics was characterized and represented by a strong drag queen and transgender presence during the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City). Stone has theorized a politics of inclusion and unification versus fragmentation and exclusion. Her renovated politics disputes the oversimplification that comes with the idea of singular and clear-cut female and male identities and the idea that there exists a completely uniform men’s and women’s history. Stone, instead, advocates the integrity of multiple, and at times seemingly paradoxical, identities.

Her work asserts, particularly under the stewardship of transgender activists and writers Leslie Feinberg Feinberg, Leslie and Riki Wilchins, Wilchins, Riki that oppression based on sex, gender identification, and sexual orientation are intricately linked; that unity is of paramount importance; and that integrity and honesty (although rare) is valuable, and that efforts toward that end should be supported. Thus, “queerness,” in the light of Stone’s work, is not about narrowly defined politics or sex or gender or sexuality or history (forms of self-imposed colonialism). Instead, queerness is about intersecting the identities that are unique to each individual.

Raymond’s arguments highlight the dishonesty inherent in the medicalization Health and medicine;and transsexuality[transsexuality] of transsexuality, where the prescribed treatment includes the blurring of a person’s biological and social history. Furthermore, Stone, by urging transsexuals to be open and affirming of their transgressive character and complex gender histories, instituted a break with prescribed medical treatment and helped to build an informed transgender community. Subsequently, a transgender movement has coalesced and articulated the need for reform of the medical and legal systems. Notably, transgender persons have demanded their inclusion in civil-liberties legislation (especially the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which had been introduced in Congress in 1994 but has yet to pass), and have called for the removal of “gender identity disorder” as a psychopathology from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). "Posttranssexual Manifesto, A" (Stone)[Posttranssexual Manifesto, A] Transgender/transsexual manifesto[Transgender transsexual manifesto] Gender reassignment;and transsexuality[transsexuality] Sex/gender[sex gender];and transsexuality[transsexuality]

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Bornstein, Kate. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. New York: Routledge, 1994.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Califia, Pat. Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism. San Francisco, Calif.: Cleis Press, 1997.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Ekins, Richard, and Dave King, eds. Blending Genders: Social Aspects of Cross-Dressing and Sex-Changing. New York: Routledge, 1996.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Feinberg, Leslie. Trans-Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Meyerowitz, Joanne. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Raymond, Janice G. The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. Boston: Beacon Press, 1979.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Stone, Sandy. “The ’Empire’ Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto.” In Body Guards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity, edited by Julia Epstein and Kristina Straub. New York: Routledge, 1991. Available at http://www .sandystone.com/empire-strikes-back.

1973: Olivia Records Is Founded

1992: Transgender Nation Holds Its First Protest

June, 1992: Feinberg Publishes Transgender Liberation

April 2, 1998: Canadian Supreme Court Reverses Gay Academic’s Firing

March, 2003-December, 2004: Transsexuals Protest Academic Exploitation

November 20, 2003: Transgender Day of Remembrance and Remembering Our Dead Project

Categories: History Content