Retro-Sex, Anti-Trans Legislation, and the Colonial/Modern Gender System

philoSOPHIA A Journal of transContinental Feminism 11 (1-2):26-48 (2021)
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Abstract

This essay uses Maria Lugones’s account of the colonial/modern gender system to analyze the retro-use of “biological sex” in recent anti-trans legislation. The retro-use of sex refers to the role of sex in legislation that has been widely described by critics as moving the U.S. backward in time, or as a rollback of trans rights. The essay argues that Lugones’s theorization of the sex/gender distinction in the context of colonialism offers a better way of understanding the retro-use of sex in this legislation than white Anglo-American feminist theories. While Lugones does not explicitly engage with this legislation, the essay shows that her racialized material history of the concept of biological sex not only allows for an expanded sense of the pasts that are at work in the present use of sex but also sharpens the need for feminist and trans responses to the retro-use of sex that are explicitly anti-racist and decolonial.

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Marie Draz
San Diego State University

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