This paper provides a meditative theorization of the recent proliferation of non-binary transgender identities. Drawing on seminal texts from queer theory, trans theory, and work on subjectivity and essentialism, this paper explores the nuanced networks that allow the doctrines of constructionism and essentialism to move throughout queer cultural spheres. It examines how discourses of essentialism and constructionism come to be attached to bodies and narratives, and what effect this has on how and what identities can be claimed publicly. The tensions that arise from this question are used to explore the concept of “choice” in identity formation, and what implications the radical deconstruction of identity in culture has for the aestheticization of transgender. Moving these claims into the discourse of appropriation, the paper argues that accusations of such may aptly applicable to the power dynamics of the adoption of transgender by non-transitioning individuals. The paper concludes by exploring the impact of this model of identity on queer community formation and political practice.
Hord, Levi, "The Trouble with Choice: The Roles of Construction, Authenticity, and Appropriation in Neoliberal Models of Transgender Identity" (2017). 2017 Undergraduate Awards. 15.