by Sonia Corrêa
In the first week of June 2015, two articles have reached us that spoke to the unabated tensions – and perhaps unresolvable – tensions between those streams of feminism that deny the validity and ‘authenticity’ of female transgender identities and experiences. I am speaking of “What makes a women?” written by Elinor Burket that was published at the New York Times as substantially focuses on Caitlin Jenner ‘s gender transition and related speech and the response to her arguments woven by the intersex researcher and activist identities and experiences Cary Gabriel Costello.
We thought it would be instigating and productive to revisit the debate as SPW using the lenses we have previously applied to critically reflect on transgender human rights, as in Chapter 10 of Sexuality, Health and Human Rights (Corrêa, Parker and Petchesky, 2008) or politics of identity more bridal speaking, as in the Special Working Paper on Sexual Minorities. As we explored this possibility the screen and first pages were taken by reports on Rachel Dolezal race ‘impersonation’, to use Joan Riviere, which in the US cyber sphere was immediately contrasted with Caitlin Jenner personal trajectory from being a man to become a woman after 60. Dolezal episode – and the trail of contestations and reflections it triggered — add much water to the exercise we had barely begun sharp interrogations in terms of new questions related to the genealogies of racial identities and the possibilities or impossibilities of transraciality.
This is certainly quite challenging. But it is also instigating as a new opportunity to revisit theorizing and practices in the domain of intersectionality. It is our plan to very soon make public some reflections on the maze of conceptual and political challenges that arise when transexuality and transraciality and contrasted and eventually opposed. Between now and then we share with you a series of articles on the matter: