Laughing at Trans Women: A Theory of Transmisogyny (Author Preprint)

In Talia Bettcher, Perry Zurn, Andrea Pitts & P. J. DiPietro (eds.), Trans Philosophy: Meaning and Mattering. University of Minnesota Press (forthcoming)
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This essay meditates on the short film American Reflexxx and the violent laughter directed at a non-trans woman in public space when she was assumed to be trans. Drawing from work on the ideological and institutional dimensions of transphobia by Talia Bettcher and Viviane Namaste, alongside Sara Ahmed's writing on the cultural politics of disgust, I reverse engineer this specific instance of laughter into a meditation on the social meaning of transphobic laughter in public space. I then look at racialized transphobic laughter directed against Tyra Hunter and Miriam Rivera to emphasize transmisogynist laughter as a denial of contact, intimacy, and care. Building on Kate Manne's work on misogyny, I conclude that a key aspect of transmisogyny is the use of transfeminine people as a source of dehumanized, disavowed, and disposable care and intimacy. Laughter and accompanying violence against trans women serves to reinforce this dynamic.

Author's Profile

Amy Marvin
Lafayette College


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