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Trans people are becoming increasingly visible in popular culture, academia, and national politics, yet there are profound disagreements in contemporary United States culture over what constitutes a person’s "real" gender and whether it ever really can be changed. Despite these disagreements, there remains a clear, abiding, and unquestioned commitment to gendered "realness" as a palpable substance, a possession that can be located and proven, even if it sometimes needs to be brought out of hiding.
Transgender Representation and the Politics of the "Real" in the United States shifts the structural dynamics of these academic and pop cultural debates by highlighting the ideology of gendered "realness" as an operation of power through which rights, privileges, and resources are distributed and denied. Beginning with the assumption that transgender identities are as socially necessary and "real" as any other gender identification, Boucher argues that this recognition does not preclude one from critically examining the cultural production of and demand for gendered "realness" as a primary function of power or recognizing its limitations as a narrative and political strategy for trans people.
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Michel Boucher is a lecturer in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and English departments at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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