Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Dr. Joel Faflak


Contemporary transgender politics in North America are presently at an impasse regarding the meaning of the label that ostensibly unifies this movement. This project will examine the terminological debate that has come to dominate transgender scholarship and activism, arguing that this concentration has reduced the socio-political viability of gender variant individuals to a matter of definition. Drawing on transgender and queer theory, as well as psychoanalytic theories of abjection, this thesis aims to demonstrate that the issue of viability is grounded not in terminology, but in cultural perceptions of ontology that must be resignified to establish gender variance as a plausible expression of subjectivity. The efforts of transgender rights activists to reconceptualize “the human” in legal terms will be positioned as a potential way through which to achieve this paradigmatic change.



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