Groundwork for Transfeminist Care Ethics: Sara Ruddick, Trans Children, and Solidarity in Dependency

Hypatia 34 (1):101-120 (2019)
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This essay considers the dependency of trans youth by bridging transgender studies with feminist care ethics to emphasize a trans wisdom about solidarity through dependency. The first major section of the essay argues for reworking Sara Ruddick's philosophy of mothering in the context of trans and gender‐creative youth. This requires, first, stressing a more robust interaction among her divisions of preservative love, nurturance for growth, and training for acceptability, and second, creating a more nuanced account of “nature” in relation to nurturance for growth to avoid casting transition as contrary to a trans youth's healthy development. In the second major section of the essay, I depart from Ruddick's framework to emphasize the difference of care for trans youth by trans and/or queer communities and through mutual caregiving, stressing a trans wisdom about dependency and solidarity found in the work of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. Turning to Eva Feder Kittay's links between dependency work and equality, I argue that Rivera and Johnson's work contains a distinct knowledge derived from practice necessitating the connection between solidarity and dependency in particular communities. I then call for more work on trans care ethics, trans ethics, and trans wisdom more broadly.
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