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Normal Life


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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction: Rights, Movements, and Critical Trans Politics 1

1. Trans Law and Politics on a Neoliberal Landscape 21

2. What's Wrong with Rights 38

3. Rethinking Transphobia and Power-Beyond a Rights Framework 50

4. Administering Gender 73

5. Law Reform and Movement Building 94

Conclusion: "This Is a Protest, Not a Parade" 117

Afterword 139

Acknowledgments 163

Notes 167

Index 207

About the Author

Dean Spade is an Assistant Professor at the Seattle University School of Law. In 2002, Spade founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a nonprofit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. For more writing by Dean Spade, see


"With Normal Life, Spade has succeeded in reframing the terms of LGBT politics by building a far-reaching vision for queer and trans politics that is rooted in community work that has already begun. . . . [It] lay[s] out a road map for queer and trans activists that leads neither to the altar nor to war, but guides us to resist state power by building community and returning to our radical roots." -- Wendy Elisheva Somerson * Bitch *
"Dean Spade's much-anticipated book is a rich tapestry of critical inquiry, interventions into legal and transgender studies, and strategies for transformative resistance. . . . The strength of Normal Life lies in Spade's commitment to accessibility as a matter of political and ethical principle. This principle is evident in the way Spade skillfully articulates theoretical concepts in common parlance, enabling critical trans politics to inform political struggles beyond the academy. Moreover, his concrete discussions of administrative governance and transformative political interventions position radical change within our reach rather than demarcate it to the realm of speculative futures." -- Dan Irving * GLQ *
"[Normal Life] makes an important contribution to a new and emerging critical trans politic. It is provocative, comprehensive, and engaging. It should be widely discussed as an important strategic framework for work within the LGBTQ movement." -- Jennifer Levi and Giovanna Shay * Women's Review of Books *
"Spade's book is personal, practical, and theoretical. It lays out a framework for a critical trans politics, and gives fresh analyses of immigration, legal reform, wealth distribution, and lesbian and gay politics-all buoyantly and optimistically aimed at a repaired world." -- Kate Clinton * Progressive *
"[Spade] provides an eminently teachable text for courses on power in society, social movements, and community organizing-in the university, and outside. . . .We will have to take Spade's proposals very seriously to build a movement centered on those most affected by administrative violence." -- Marcia Ochoa * Social Justice *

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