Why I am voting for Bernie Sanders

Tomorrow, in the New York primary, I will be voting for Bernie Sanders. I see few discernible differences on them on LGBT- specific policy. But Sanders’ policies on income inequality, on incarceration, on the fundamental role of government, are going to do much more for economically disenfranchised queer and trans people than anything in Clinton’s program. Clinton has been trying to sell us the idea that it’s just not possible to do better. I disagree. As Corey Robin puts it so well: “The American ruling class has been trying to figure out for years, if not decades, how to manage decline, how to get Americans to get used to diminished expectations, how to adapt to the notion that life for the next generation will be worse than for the previous generation, and now, how to accept…low to zero growth rates as the new economic normal. Clinton’s campaign message isn’t just for Bernie voters; it’s for everyone. Expect little, deserve less, ask for nothing. When the leading candidate of the more left of the two parties is saying that — and getting the majority of its voters to embrace that message — the work of the American ruling class is done.”

Keeping North Carolina safe for business

In the face of boycott threats from the corporate sector, Governor McCrory yesterday issued an executive order (PDF) intended to make North Carolina look safe for businesses that value their reputations as socially conscious. Time will tell if the corporations promising to boycott the state will decide that this executive action gives them enough cover to go back to business as usual.

While the Governor’s new executive action does ban state agencies from discriminating in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the rest of it is just window-dressing.  In truth, there is little the Governor can do to undo the legislation (PDF) he signed on March 23rd.  What’s especially interesting, though, is the absence of any signal that mistakes were made in two other key parts of the new law. The first we know all about–making access to multiple-occupancy bathrooms based on “biological sex.”  McCrory actually doubles down and reiterates the anti-trans animus that seemingly drove the legislature to call a special emergency session to pass the bill in the first place:

“Whereas, our citizens have basic common-sense expectations of privacy in our restrooms, lockers rooms, and shower facilities for children, women and women;

Whereas, to protect expectations of privacy in restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities in public buildings, including our schools, the State of North Carolina maintains these facilities on the basis of “biological sex.”

But there was also no concession, not even a symbolic one, about another section in HB2, Part II, also known as the “Wage and Hour Act.”  That part of HB2 preempts local governments from establishing minimum wage laws, like Seattle did last year. Here’s the justification for this in the bill:

“The public policy of this State is declared as follows: The wage levels of employees, hours of labor, payment of earned wages, and the well-being of minors are subjects of concern requiring legislation to promote the general welfare of the people of the State without jeopardizing the competitive position of North Carolina business and industry.”

Few are talking about how the law makes it impossible for cities to raise the minimum wage. And I’ve seen no reports of anyone in the business community objecting to that part of the new law.

It’s not clear yet if McCrory’s executive order will end the boycott (though I suspect not). But one thing is clear: the debate over bathrooms is providing very good cover for the anti-worker part of the bill.  For many–especially those who find identity politics a distraction from more universal political projects–it would seem that these two sections of the bill couldn’t be more incommensurate. We have politics of recognition (or non-recognition in this case) in legislating what “sex” is, and who can use what bathroom. And we have distributive politics at work in legislating against municipal minimum wage increases. But the line demarcating these two types of politics is not as neat as some take it to be.  Without the cover of homophobia and transphobia, without the legislators’ hysteria over trans people going to the bathroom, the action against minimum wage increases would have attracted much more attention.



Trans Political Economy — CFP


TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly Issue 4 Volume 1, 2017

Special issue on Trans- Political Economy

Co-editors Dan Irving (dan_irving@carleton.ca) and Vek Lewis (vek.lewis@sydney.edu.au)

Trans* embodiment, subjectivities, networks, advocacy and resistance are mediated by global capitalism and neoliberal regimes of accumulation on national, state and local levels. This issue invites trans scholarship that engages with political economy as an assemblage of dynamic processes that frame but do not completely determine the material lives of non-normatively sexed and/or gendered individuals and communities.

This issue aims to problematize the multidimensional circuits and flows of capital, labour and bodies across various types of borders. How do the material experiences of trans* subjects advance understandings of the political economy of intra- and transnational mobilities? What do the politics of trans migration reveal about the gender/labour/violence nexus and racialized hierarchies that facilitate the advancement of passable bodies while hindering others? How is the legibility of gendered, racialized, sexualized bodies contingent on being properly located in relation to social, economic and cultural capital? How do trans/feminist and other social justice scholars and activists hold particular trans subjectivities (especially trans women) personally responsible for their participation in geopolitical and biocapitalist relations in ways that other gender non-conforming individuals are not?

Debates concerning post-Fordist productive/consumer relations, gender and immaterial labour represent another point of entry for scholarly-activist inquiry into the political economic relations governing these new times. While the expansion of the service economy within post-industrial societies is characteristic of Post-Fordism (e.g. food and hospitality services, childcare, retail), this regime of accumulation emphasizes the centrality of service relations between workers and consumers in all sectors. Capitalist relations exceed narrowly defined economic processes (i.e. commodity production/consumption) and pivot around affective labour, moral or emotional economies.  In other words, individual bodies and personalities are put to work to create positive consumer experiences (i.e. workers’ appearances must be attractive, voices soothing, and behavior must signal enthusiasm, dedication, and/or deference to authority).  How do the un/der/employment experiences of trans men and women, demonstrate the failure of particular bodies to produce feelings of security, safety, belonging, and satisfaction? How does trans labour contribute to economies of desire? What logics and interests underline the criminalization and/or precarity of such labour and the lives and status of those implicated?

We are producing trans- political economic analysis in times of war, economic and ecological crises. Such precarious times demand inter/disciplinary inquiry into the ways that gender non-conforming bodies and/or Trans Studies as a body of literature, artistic and activist production serve as sites of contestation. How are the logics of capital being embodied and resisted on micropolitical levels, through non-profit organizations, via social service agencies and through other efforts to achieve substantive equality and transformative justice?

Possible topics may include:

  • trans* affective economies
  • trans entrepreneurialism and economic empowerment
  • the structural realities of race and gender in locales of trans* mobilities
  • Trans and allied critical work and activism that seeks to interrupt ruling relations of contemporary capital and Empire to forge a transformative and decolonial project of social and economic justice.
  • trans* intranational and international migration
  • Trans Studies as marketable brand
  • trans theories of value
  • criminalized economies
  • neoliberal biopolitics and/or administering life chances
  • economies of trans representation within neoliberal market society
  • accumulation processes and bodies that matter
  • trans/gender and immaterial labour
  • biomedicine and global capitalism
  • Trans sexualities, commodification and re-appropriation in contemporary junctures.
  • Trans lives in the context of parallel powers, para-state formations and economic contention.
  • Capital and the uses/misuses of stigma
  • substantive equality in contradistinction to formal equality
  • trans necro political economies
  • The profitability of “diversity” in neoliberal contexts and discourses
  • Trans lives, states of exception, disposable labour and market value in the shadow of law and state
  • trans* specific and inclusive social service provision in austere times
  • trans subjectivities and class
  • theorizing economic and ecological crisis
  • Politics of public/private in trans lives
  • Trans sexualities, commodification and re-appropriation in contemporary junctures.
  • trans un/der/employment
  • trans networks and circuits of human, cultural and social capital

To be considered, please send a full length submission by January 31, 2016 to tsqjournal@gmail.com. With your article, please include a brief bio including name, postal address, and any institutional affiliation as well as a 150 word abstract with 3-5 keywords. The expected range for scholarly articles is 5000 to 7000 words, and 1000 to 2000 words for shorter critical essays and descriptive accounts. Illustrations should be included with both completed submissions and abstracts. Any questions should be addressed by e-mail sent to the guest editors for the issue: Dan Irving (dan_irving@carleton.ca) and Vek Lewis (vek.lewis@sydney.edu.au).

TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly is a new journal, edited by Paisley Currah and Susan Stryker published by Duke University Press. TSQ aims to be the journal of record for the interdisciplinary field of transgender studies and to promote the widest possible range of perspectives on transgender phenomena broadly defined. Every issue of TSQ will be a specially themed issue that also contains regularly recurring features such as reviews, interviews, and opinion pieces. To learn more about the journal and see calls for papers for other special issues, visit  http://lgbt.arizona.edu/tsq-main.   For information about subscriptions, visit http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?productid=45648.