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Trapped in the Wrong Theory: Rethinking Trans Oppression and Resistance

In this essay, I defend an account of trans oppression and resistance that departs from the prevailing transgender model. While I show why both the “trapped in the wrong body” model and the transgender model are problematic, I also illuminate how the former can be seen as a resistant narrative. The new account has two key ideas. First, I draw from María Lugones’s work to defend a model of multiple meanings, arguing that the traditional accounts assume dominant meanings while foreclosing resistant ones. Second, I draw from the recent literature on the transphobic representation of trans people as deceivers to argue that reality enforcement is an important consequence of dominant ways of doing gender. The traditional wrong-body narrative can be seen as resisting reality enforcement.