Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Christopher Keep


This thesis examines contingency to elucidate transgender activism’s leadership in radical politics. I take up Louis Althusser’s theory of aleatory materialism to politicize everyday encounters. Trans activists gain a parallax view through gendered (mis)recognition that reveals the structure of ideology’s vanishing points. By contrast, I criticize a cisgendered viewpoint and demonstrate the logical errors that result in transphobic behavior through Jacques Lacan’s version of the prisoner’s dilemma. I conclude to theorize trans activism’s engagement with the state through Lacanian analytic technique. This technique does not result in traditional “treatment,” but instead fuels activism with knowledge of the structures that must be reconfigured to attain liberation. To this end, trans activism’s engagement with legal institutions is interpreted through Lacan’s Seminar XVII: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, and Althusser’s On the Reproduction of Capitalism. I argue trans activists seize the opportunity of the encounter to transform an exploitative and repressive state.