Bodies that don't count: Judith Butler returns to the fray

In a crowded lecture at the London School of Economics, the Californian philosopher and pioneer of gender theory reiterated the cornerstones of her thinking: the materiality of sex does not exist, women do not have the exclusive right to be women and must open up to other subjects starting with Queers and pro-Palestinians, transfeminism is anti-capitalist and anti-fa for a common fight against "fascist passions". And it attacks gender-critical feminism "allied with the Right".
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At some point Judith Butler seemed to have changed her ways.

The Californian philosopher, among the most influential of the last thirty years, theorist of gender performativity, arrived along a radical constructivist path to the denial of the material consistency of sexed bodies to the point of problematising and/or dismantling the same subject 'woman' He had acknowledged: 'my definition gave rise to two conflicting interpretations: for the first, everyone chooses their own gender; for the second, we are all completely determined by gender norms (...) Something had not been sufficiently well explained and understood'.. (The alliance of bodies, 2017).

But as early as the second edition of his Gender Trouble (1990). founding text of gender theory, it seemed that Judy wanted to put his foot on the brake: "The life of the text went beyond my intentions' he writes in the 1999 preface. By speaking of 'the life of the text' Butler seems to mean that his thought took on an existence of its own, travelling at an extraordinary speed and reaching a much wider audience than it seemed intended for. Certainly, there is no doubt, the Californian thinker could not then have imagined the political scope of her jeu de langage and his brilliant philosophical move, let alone the fact that the queerwould, after a long journey, become a commonplace and highly touted product for sale on the shelves of the neo-liberal market, until it became mainstream.

Gender Trouble holds day and night, philosophy and drag bars together. Butler herself explains that her text 'was not only produced in the academic sphere, but also within the various converging social moments I was part of, and in the context of the gay and lesbian community on the East Coast of the United States (...) in a kind of cross-crossing (...).crossing over) while sitting on the beach in Rehoboth, I wondered how I could connect the different aspects of my life'. And again: 'During my youth in the United States, the most effective self-description I could give of myself was 'bar lesbian' (bar dyke), a lesbian girl who spent his days reading Hegel and his evenings at the gay barwhich occasionally became a bar drag (...) I quickly realised that some of those 'men' could do women much better than I could have done, and also than I have ever desired and still desire'. (Making and unmaking the genre)

Especially after the trauma of 11 September 2001 Butler seemed to want to mitigate his 'somatophobic' positions recognising the existence of bodies precisely from the revelation of their attributes of fragility and interdependence. But the 'second' Butler certainly did not enjoy the same extraordinary audience by Gender Troubletext that continues to guide not only LGBT policy, but also increasingly macroscopic general social trends. Not even Butler could have imagined the magnitude of his philosophical move and the fact that the queer would have become a common product for sale on the neo-liberal market. Born out of a libertarian impulse and an attempt to free everyone from the constraints of gender stereotypes, the queer theory have paradoxically produced a multiplication of stereotypes, deflagrating into a veritable 'diagnostic' taxonomy of identities and an ideology that today has the features of a veritable cult.

The so-called gender identity, placed in insignificant bodies from which to free oneself, presents itself with the characteristics of a new and indefinable 'soul'. IThe sexualised body, from which second-wave feminist thought took its cue, becomes material to be 'freely' dismantled and reassembled according to a prevailing idea of freedom: that of the unrelated individual who deconstructs and reconstructs himself by indulging his own desire, be it a genuine or induced desire. New de-corporealised words They name the process of liberation and give it symbolic substance. 

Transgender identity stands as a paradigm of human freedom, a fact that is reflected in the'epidemic' of transitions especially between the minors. And which generates, correlatively, the tragic phenomenon of the detransitioners o desisters, girls trying to return to their female bodies after hormone therapies and devastating surgeries: true martyrs in the etymological sense of witnesses (martyr).

A "Royal Butlerism' which exceeds and probably distorts at least in part Butler's thought: the lack, in that thought, of a social theory that integrates and structures the idea of subjective performance leaves the field open to an ideology that is largely market-driven.     

But as mentioned, after a long phase in which the subject of sexuality and the idea of sex as a cultural and heteronormative construction no longer occupied the centre of his reflections, Butler seems to reposition himself strongly on his youthful intuitions by returning to the "category women' to open up to include others and feminism to participate in a common 'anti-fascist struggle' to found a 'communist ontology'.

Heavily influenced by Butler and post-structuralism, theThird Wave feminism -which names itself as transfeminism- no longer believes that there is a 'women' subject entitled to political action and works to ensure that this subject 'inclusively' makes room for others, taking the idea of an féminisme pour tous. Being a woman can and must become 'a place of subversive multiplicity'. against phallogocentrism and heteronormativity, while ata woman's body does not in itself guarantee to take part in this subversion. Butler then returns to the need for a criticism of the term 'women', 'criticism without which feminism loses its democratic potential".

Corpi che non contano: Judith Butler torna alla carica

Radical and gender critical feminism reads transfeminist practices as the terminal move of heterosexist patriarchy, built on the universalisation of the masculine and the expulsion of female difference. Butler says: "The subject 'women' is no longer understood as something stable and constant" as "the category (quote mine) of 'women', the subject of feminism, is produced and delimited by the same power structures through which emancipation is sought... donnealso in the plural, has become a problematic term, a contested space, a cause for anxiety (c.vo my)".

Butler's thought can perhaps be read as the ultimate acumen of emancipation understood as the search for one's own freedom in an egalitarian-paritarian key erasing one's own being as a woman, as opposed to the thought of sexual difference; but also as a representation of a melancholic' position in relation to the mother's body. 

By asking women -newly- to step back in order to make room for other subjects in an inclusive key, Butler paradoxically ends up producing permanence in that phallogocentric universe from which she has always claimed to want to escape.

Repositioning near the neutral male and consequently of the phallic signifier -the neuter is always more masculine than feminine- and aspiring to become the dominant social mediation, the LGBT movement once again arrives at the exclusion of what phallogocentrism has always excluded -being a woman-. proceeding in the ways of the replacement of women and their symbolic erasure. As Marcel Gauchet observes (The end of male dominance) 'Neutrality becomes the true hallmark of masculinity'. And Adriana Cavarero: The neuter that is thought of is nothing but a repetition of the same 'monstrosity that makes a neuter and a male coexist in the universal man'. (For a theory of sexual difference, in Diotima, The thought of sexual difference).

For Butler, on the other hand, woman, queer, trans, antifa, pro-Palestine, migrant should be understood as synonyms, subjects allied in a global resistance struggle against resurgent fascist 'passions': reiterated this in acrowded conference on 22 February at the London School of Economics, during which he also severely attacked radical feminism and gender critical 'allies of the right'.

A summary of the lecture and the full speech follow.

MARINA TERRAGNI


Popular, a real diva. Listening to the lecture Transnational anti-gender politics and resistance  given by Judith Butler on 22 February at the London School of Economics, there were 400 people in the room and over 1000 connected. Introduced by Professor Claire Hemmings, Butler read her speech in its entirety (and a couple of times she even got lost among the papers), right after Pakistani activist Tooba Syed who spoke about the struggles of the recent feminist movement in Pakistan, recently interspersed with those of the queer and trans community. Syed's juxtaposition with gender theorist was unintentionally ironic. In Pakistan, women are attacked for shouting the revolutionary slogan "heat up your food!" at men. 

Butler -who is Jewish- left immediately clarifying her position on the Israel-Palestine war. 

"The genocide conducted against the Palestinians of Gaza, theThe display of mass violence of unthinkable cruelty offers no excuse and pretends to be nothing but shameless brutality'. Feminism is against war and the position of Queer for Palestine legitimate. The problem is using a tragedy to recklessly link it to the global removal of rights - which leads to "fascist passions' - and the elimination of trans and non-binary people.

Butler argued that In the US, fascists have called for the elimination of trans and non-binary people. But is this true? He was referring to a sentence by Michael Knowles of the Daily Wire who said that "for the good of society transgenderism must be eliminated entirely from public life' and that 'there can be no genocide of trans people because they are not a legitimate category of people'. There is a not insignificant difference between transgenderism as an ideology and trans people but Butler pretended not to notice. And if we take the definition of genocide as 'acts committed with the intent to destroy in part or in whole a national, ethnic, racial or religious group' at face value, where is the genocide of trans people? 

For her it is all the fault of 'the genocidal logic that states and world institutions have come to accept: the deaths of migrants at sea, in detention camps, the suspension of all due process for those detained indefinitely, together with the absence of adequate housing and health care. A form of state-sponsored death trade. As we know, there is also a substitution theory that runs through all these cases: Israel imagines that living on the basis of equality with the Palestinians would mean the destruction of the Jewish state and thus the destruction of the Jewish people'. Here Butler launches a lunge at gender critical feminists. According to her, GCs operate with the same logic, they are a kind of Israel that fears the ethnic replacement of women by trans people. "When gender critical feminists and right-wing allies - Critical, by the way, is also a misnomer. There is nothing critical about what they do, criticism refers to the urgency of the intervention, it is the investigation of taken-for-granted assumptions to imagine a different world. OK? They are not critical - and when they claim that trans women will be replaced, or that they will steal their identity by robbing them of their motherhood, by appropriating their femininity, they are also imagining that they will be replaced by those who want the right to live in freedom without fear of violence, discrimination and pathologisation'. Butler knows very well that freedom is not an absolute value but ends where the freedom of others begins. If women, half the world, can no longer even be called women (as female human adults) their rights are also lost and feminism is dead.

Quoting the policies against migrants of Orban and Maloney Butler spoke of the exhilarating sadism, fascist excitement of our times even here making a Parallel between the decision to let migrants die at sea and the removal of the right to determine gender assignment (which no one disputes with adults), gay marriage, gender books at school. A juxtaposition that has not been challenged.

"There is often a kind of selfish passion that accompanies, for example, the decision to let migrants die at sea, or perhaps areligious excitement in depriving people of their rights. Although they are not exactly the same phenomenon, something intersects, not exactly a joyful fascism but an excitement that is felt when for example parental rights are denied, when gay marriage rights are withdrawn, when reproductive justice is dismantled. When the right to determine sex assignment is prohibited. What characterises the passions I describe is that they are felt as moral and lived unashamedly. The moral dimension is a kind of justification for doing evilbut it is also the vehicle of their accelerated excitement. Those who have banned gender books from classrooms, taken sex education out of schools, deprived trans youth of affirmative healthcare, refused to have the story of slavery told, supported the abandonment of migrants at sea or their indefinite detention in camps or prisons, they feel they are doing good, restoring a good life, averting a corrosive force, a possible harm, a force of evil. They can say that they do evil and then provide a moral justification for doing so. They do not think they are doing evil, but good, and they conceive the abolition of rights or fatal abandonment as activities that will help restore a world they consider lost'.

This moralistic drive would incite hatred and allow various types of violence and cruelty that must be opposed. "We do not need to see a full-fledged fascist state to say that fascist tendencies and practices are occurring now, when various vulnerable communities are being targeted with rituals that strip fatal abandonment to dangerous conditions, and slow and rapid forms of killing are becoming the norm, assisted by accelerated forms of moralising'. All because some political forces and their allies have a irrational fear of gender whom they see as a ghost, a destructive, demonic force ('The Vatican has compared gender to a nuclear bomb, the Ebola virus and Hitler Youth') or a threat to national unity and the natural family. "Whether it is the teacher who indoctrinates or prepares the student to be gay, the trans woman in prison who does evil, the gender theorist who takes on demonic forms and attacks the laws of nature and the Church. The trans child in need of good care who threatens the core of the nation, the migrant or colonised person who seeks to live in freedom, equality and justice. Because those who are considered a threat to the people are, by definition, separate from the people and as such must be disempowered, if not eliminated, they do not have the right to live in a common world because only the people have that right'.

In defending the concept of gender Butler has never addressed legitimate concerns about the self id, the invasion of women's spaces, the erasure of the word woman, nor the problematic transitions of children and adolescents. From the marginalisation of immigrants to the killing of trans and queer people, from the cancellation of reproductive rights to health care rights all part of a restoration project that must be resisted.i. According to her, 'The right to self-determination (read self-identification ed.) does not take away anyone else's rights. Yet, if this freedom is allowed, it is said that gender ideologues will take away everyone else's primary sex. Self-determination, understood as a form of freedom, is thus turned into a rights-spoliation activity to justify the spoliation of trans people's rights. Similarly, queer families do not deny heterosexual families, they simply live alongside them. They only contest the inevitability and superiority of the heteronormative family form. Defenders of the family are asked to accept a world in which families take various forms and to understand that they are only living in one of them. (...) Being told that the sex assigned at birth is not necessarily the same as that assumed over time is shocking for those who want to think of their assigned gender not so much as a legal act conducted in relation to codified norms, but as an immutable truth of the self. Perhaps some experience gender as beautiful and immutable, that is fine, as long as it is not assumed that everyone experiences it that way. To derive from the experience of an immutable gender assignment a generalisation or a universal rule is to impose a cruel falsehood on those who experience gender differently, yet gender is presented as frightening. (...) Sex is sex, and no debates or challenges are allowed'.

This is dishonest because the no debate is precisely one of the foundations of trans ideology.

Aware of speaking to the generation Thurnberg Butler appealed to a resistance, a creation of alliances that oppose the destruction of the climate and stand for a radical democracy shaped by socialist ideals, saying that 'an identity politics cannot create the world we all want to live in', forgetting that this is exactly what the trans movement is pursuing. "It is crucial that gender politics oppose neo-liberalism and other forms of capitalist devastation and not become its instrument, that gender politics fight against the continuation of colonisation and all forms of racism, including those against migrants, and that they take a stand by expanding alliances. For it is by virtue of our interdependence that we have a chance to survive and prosper'.

He then concluded with a message from Veronica Gago, one of the founders of Ni Una Menos in Argentina. "In alliance with me Gago writes that gender is an uncomfortable, multilingual and relational name, a name that sparks many directions of the worlds we want to build. E I think that to build these worlds, frankly, we have to make the truth sexy again'. 

What 'truth'? Isn't truth according to Butler's constructivism an artificial product of power? Was it not precisely the radical critique of the concept of truth that allowed Butler to assert that it is not the materiality of sex that can define who a woman is, and that being a woman is a mere performance?

MARA ACCEPTANCE


FULL TEXT OF JUDITH BUTLER'S LECTURE (here the video)

"The genocide conducted against the Palestinians of Gaza, the display of mass violence of unthinkable cruelty offers no excuse and pretends to be nothing but shameless brutality. Of course the state of Israel claims it is not genocide but not because of the violence inflicted but because - since the genocide was conducted against Jews - it is obscene, they say, to claim that the state of Israel is committing genocide. But that is what they do. 

Certainly the atrocities committed by Hamas on 7 October are relevant. But that should not stop us from mentioning the massacre of innocent lives that happens every day against Palestinians. One can explain Israel's state and military power in many ways but I would suggest that there is more than just fascism in the way it has armed and authorised settlers as it twists and breaks laws in pursuit of a murderous euphoria'. 

"Of course genocide is not the same thing, but once rights are removed a subject is exposed unprotected to debilitating and potentially fatal forms of power. We have seen soldiers and militants celebrating murder but also right-wing activists and politicians celebrating the removal of rights. They are not the same thing but accelerated removal can lead to fascist political formations and exemplifies how what I call 'fascist passions' operate. In the US, fascists have called for the removal of trans and non-binary people. What do they have in mind? Michael Knowles of the Daily Wire said that for the good of society transgenderism must be eliminated entirely from public life. The same gentleman said there can be no genocide of trans people because 'it is not a legitimate category of people'. He is fighting the wrong person! He said you cannot have genocide of trans people because genocide refers to genes, to genetics. (Laughter from the audience). I'm sorry, I tried to take criticism seriously but sometimes you lose your mind. It refers to genetics, to biology (Knowles says) and the whole point of transgenderism is that it has nothing to do with biology. Quote: 'No one is asking to exterminate anyone'. Because the other problem with that statement is that transgender is not a true ontological category, it is not a legitimate category of being and, as you know, it is one thing to say that biology determines what we are and another to say that biology is in the mix of what we are and what we become. (, the opposition to biology he caricatures as an opposition probably to biological determinism. Furthermore, it makes sense to ask which science is used for which political position and to show that). The interactive models of biology challenge the claim that there is a natural body that operates outside its interaction with the world and not only ensures the infrastructure of life or should, and that the sex we are assigned to gives no guarantee of the sex we become. The gap between the assignment of a sex at birth and the acquisition of a sex over time is called life and time.

Because even categories such as sex and gender have a temporal life. 

And the trajectory of historical categories intersects with our life stories. The genocide in Palestine, and we have every right and obligation to use this term, is made possible by the genocidal logic that states and world institutions have come to accept. The deaths of migrants at sea, in detention camps, the suspension of any due process for those detained indefinitely, along with the absence of adequate housing and health care. All this, we could say, is a form of state-sponsored death trade. 

But as we know, there is also a theory of substitution that runs through all these cases: the Israeli state imagines that living on the basis of equality with the Palestinians would mean the destruction of the Jewish state and thus the destruction of the Jewish people. (Giving up the rights of demographic advantage for Jews will lead, in their minds, to the replacement of Jews with Palestinians. Sometimes they simply call them Arabs). Any vision of coexistence in the region, of equal citizenship of a state, be it single or federated, ending colonisation and revolt, is often seen as nothing more than a threat to Jewish life.

Radical democratic principles are that a Palestinian state (she says Israeli but reads wrong) is a threat to Jewish life and that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. This is the paradox. 

"When gender critical feminists and right-wing allies, by the way, critical is also a misnomer. There is nothing critical about what they do, critical refers to the urgency of the intervention, it is not negative, critical, as in critical theory, is the investigation of taken-for-granted assumptions to imagine a different world. OK? They are not critical. And when they claim that trans women will replace them, or that they will steal their identity by robbing them of their motherhood, by appropriating their femininity, they are also imagining that they will be replaced by those who want the right to live in freedom without fear of violence, discrimination and pathologisation'. 

"The grand theory of substitution, articulated with such toxic force by both Orban and Maloney, sees the most vulnerable migrant washed up on the coast as a serious threat to the nation, the family and the very future of Europe. We might ask how such a fantastical transfiguration can take place. We can talk about that another time, but for now, and in the time that remains, I want to return to this exhilarating sadism, increasingly shameless describing the fascist excitement of our times, the excitement that accompanies the call to deny people their fundamental rights. What makes this call exciting? (What kind of excitement is involved in making or sometimes receiving or reproducing that call?)

One of the reasons this emotion interests me is that it is enigmatic. We are used to accusing governments and agencies of indifference when they fail to protect people's basic rights. In such cases, we view these institutions as insensitive or cold, engaged in a lethal form of estrangement. Yet, to say that cruelty is cold is not to say that it is dispassionate, and in its contemporary form, at least, there is often a kind of selfish passion that accompanies, for example, the decision to let migrants die at sea, or perhaps a religious excitement in depriving people of their rights. Although they are not exactly the same phenomenon, something intersects here, not exactly a joyous fascism, but an excitement that takes hold and is felt when, for example, parenting rites are denied, when gay marriage rights are withdrawn, when reproductive justice is dismantled. When the right to determine sex allocation is banned. What characterises the passions I am trying to describe is that they are felt as moral and experienced as shameless. The moral dimension certainly operates as a kind of justification for doing evil, but it is also the vehicle for their accelerated arousal.Those who have banned gender books from classrooms, taken sex education out of schools, deprived trans youth of affirmative health care, refused to have the story of slavery told, supported the abandonment of migrants at sea or their indefinite detention in camps or prisons, feel that they are doing good, restoring a good life, averting a corrosive force, a possible harm, a force of evil. One can say that they do evil and then provide a moral justification for doing so. It would be sneaky or hypocritical or strategic but I think the situation is actually worse. They do not think of doing evil, but of doing good, and they conceive the abolition of rights or fatal abandonment as activities that will help restore a world they consider lost. Sometimes this type of argument goes further. The only way to restore the good life, the natural family, including gender hierarchies, is through the cancellation of rituals or potentially fatal forms of social neglect.These are measures that must be taken to achieve or restore the good life or in the name of the good itself (Insofar as these measures are conceived as preconditions of the good life, or of its restoration, which is a step beyond kickback, right) Then the very act of taking away rights or denying a group of people the possibility of living and having a legal status becomes itself a good deed, an activity that realises the good. (:::)

Therefore, if one understands that the harm one is doing is morally right, justified in advance, to bring back the good life, then whatever one has to do to achieve this end would seem to be justified. This is so, however, only if the means justify the end. But if one does not realise that what one is doing is harmful, then there is no need to justify the harm.(However, here there has been a full transvaluation of values for those who have undergone this conversion. When is one freed from traditional moral constraints and allowed to act in ways that would otherwise be called harmful with the full conviction that one's action is right or good, that it restores good to the world, or makes a bad world good, or safeguards the world from imminent and unthinkable destruction? If one says that the action that others call harmful is actually beneficial, then one reverses the meaning of the words naming moral values and the problem is not just a generalised semantic confusion. Since conviction is passionate, and by passion I do not mean just any emotional state, passion from Latin is related to suffering but also to endurance, it is different from an affection one can reflect on in the mind. A passion implies being affected by something external and suffering it in a way that one does not feel fully under one's control. A passion is something relatively uncovered, noble, ungovernable; the mind cannot dominate a passion. A passion always more or less rules the mind, leaving one out of control and excited, excited to be out of control. Excited, finally, to be out of control, ungoverned and ungovernable, there is something in the air that is lawless, lawless yet in the name of a morality that is realised in the deprivation and dispossession of others).

Under this guise of morality, here is the possibility of living without laws or of developing laws that consecrate lawlessness, as when governments with their policies and laws not only nurture such passions, but recast them as a moral mission or crusade. The law then becomes an instrument of violence, a legal violence. The experience of what is right under these conditions becomes self-justified moralism. And it allows various kinds of cruelty in the name of what is considered right and good. In reality, it is not morality, which is supposed to explain the principles on the basis of which it acts, but a moralism excited outside the law, which now operates within the law, which liberates those most beset by hatred, to do evil, to incite and circulate hatred. In the name of what is right.

So it seems that one fights for the good at the same time as one is able to mobilise the desire to destroy others. (Old resentments are your new forms of contempt. All this can happen regardless of a fascist state or a completely fascist society, because fascism is born as a tendency, a potentiality. Therefore, it is our duty as critics to find and oppose it before it saturates society and its state structures. We do not need to see a full-blown fascist state to say that fascist tendencies and practices are occurring now, when various vulnerable communities are being targeted with rituals that strip fatal surrender to dangerous conditions, and slow and rapid forms of killing are becoming the norm, assisted by accelerated forms of moralising. 

But there is another element, and that is the production of an excited or contagious circulation of a ghost, be it the teacher who indoctrinates or prepares the student to be gay, the trans woman in prison who does evil, the gender theorist who takes on demonic forms and attacks the laws of nature and the Church. The trans child in need of good care who threatens the core of the nation, the migrant or colonised person who seeks to live in freedom, equality and justice in a shared world that has been deemed the most destructive force in the world. Because those who are considered a threat to the people are, by definition, separated from the people. They are not considered part of the people and as such must be depowered, if not eliminated, they do not have the right to live in a shared world because only the people have that right. The common world is divided between the people who have this right and those who do not, who are not exactly people. 

"The idea of gender worked as an exciting concept.

.Many political campaigns, as you know, target gender as a destructive force and even interpret it as a threat to national identity and the natural family. The Vatican has added to this discourse, comparing gender to a nuclear bomb, the Ebola virus and Hitler's Youth. When gender is imagined as a threat to humanity, civilisation, man and nature, when gender is compared to a nuclear catastrophe or a full-blown demonic power, then it is to the fear of destruction that political actors appeal. There is the ready and continuing fear of destruction, the source of which is difficult to name, which is urged, urged and urged to fortify both religious authorities and state powers or their strengthening alliances, as we see in Putin's Russia, in the Republican Party in the United States and in various countries in Eastern Europe, East Asia and Africa. The distancing of this fear of destruction from its conditions of production, which we could call capitalism, climate disaster, systemic racism, prison powers, extractivism, patriarchal social and state forms, all should make us very, very afraid of destruction. The result is the production of cultural figures and ghosts invested with the power to destroy the Earth and the fundamental structures of human societies precisely because that destruction is taking place unnamed and unchecked. (Fear and anguish congeal without adequate vocabulary or analysis and) suddenly gender or critical race theory is targeted as the cause of destruction. Gender, a category that describes the division of labour, the organisation of states and the unequal distribution of power, has never been only cultural, but is presented as such by opponents who want to identify the source of destruction at the cultural level. 

"Once identified as the cause of destruction, the genre itself must be destroyed. And what ensues is censorship. The de-departmentalisation of gender and women's studies, the deprivation of health care rights, the increase in pathologisation, the repeal or rejection of laws that protect against discrimination, violent marginalisation and the erosion of democratic norms are just a few examples.

Let us remember that the killing of women, trans, queer, bisexual and intersex people is a form of destruction that is happening in the world as we speak. The killing of black women, of black, queer and trans people, the killing of migrants, including queer and trans migrants, are all destructive acts taking place in this time, our time. And as the numbers increase, it becomes more and more evident which lives are considered superfluous and which are not. The inequality of bereavement is being felt. Once gender comes to include abortion rights, access to reproductive, gender and sexual health services, trans rights, women's freedom and equality, queer freedom struggles of colours, single parenting, gay parenting, new parenthood outside heteronormative models, adoption rights, sex reassignment, gender confirmation surgery, sex education books, books for young people, books for adults, nudity pictures now banned in the state of Texas, I mean the entire collection of the Renaissance, as if it had then represented a wide range of political struggles that its opponents seek to extinguish in their efforts to restore an authoritarian patriarchal order to the state, religion and the family. This is no mere backlash. It is a restoration project. The only way forward is for all those who are targeted to come together more effectively than their enemies to recognise their alliances and to fight the ghosts prepared for them with a powerful, regenerative imagery.

Consider the operational fantasies about migrants elaborated in support of a xenophobic and racist migration policy, or the operational fantasies about women as child murderers, the anti-abortion movements. For those who imagine trans women as rapist sisters infiltrating bathrooms, we are faced with phenomena that are both social and psychological. When fear runs through a population, when hatred is fomented against a phantom concept, an idea, such as gender, that is said to wield the power of total destruction, then the tools we need to understand how to deflate and oppose such a movement are drawn from the media that have the power to occupy and defuse the phantom in the service of another way of imagining alliances. We need this way of imagining solidarity in the future, as much as we need air to breathe. Because living and living together requires solidarity and a sense of living that includes overcoming the fundamentals of human life. If someone or something tries to take away what we need to live, we start to fight for survival. But finding it alone never gets us very far. The helplessness one feels is perhaps reminiscent of the primary helplessness of the newborn child and the clear insight that without a supporting infrastructure, no one's life is livable. When the anti-gender movement says that gender will deprive you of your sexual identity, it confesses to the erasure of the rights it is supporting. It asks the public to experience the psychosocial fantasy of being stripped of a sexual identity by law, when what is really happening is that trans people are demanding to be given a new sexual status. And if they are able to have a new sexual status, this does not in fact take away anyone else's sexual status. It is still there. (Laughter). It is a mischievous but powerful inversion. The right to self-determination does not take away anyone else's rights. Yet, if this freedom of self-definition is allowed, it is said that gender ideologues will take away everyone else's primary sex. Self-determination, understood as a form of freedom, is thus turned into a rights stripping activity to justify the stripping of trans people's rights. Similarly, queer families do not deny heterosexual ones, they simply live alongside them. They only challenge the inevitability and superiority of the heteronormative family form. Those who defend the family are being asked to accept a world in which families take various forms and to understand that they are only living in one of them. We are not talking about a future world. But this world we live in may seem oppressive, otherwise how else to call all these inversions, these attacks on legitimate freedom, exposed in the most public terms, can make the psycho-social dimension of the new fascism understandable in terms that all those affected will understand. Without that analysis, we cannot come to know how our innermost fears and desires are woven into the social fabric in which we live, including the social ruptures and conflicts, those tears in the fabric that throw us into precariousness, the exploitation of which we can only experience if there are others who refuse to let us fall. 

As I have tried to argue, this increased focus on gender on the part of the Right diverts attention from the various social and political forces that are in fact destroying the world as we know it. However, we cannot conclude that gender is merely a deviation from these other more truly destructive forces, because gender refers to an intimate sense of lived bodily experience, a sense of who one is, and sometimes an anchor that holds together the architecture of the self. To be told that the sex assigned at birth is not necessarily the same as that assumed over time is unsettling, only for those who want to think of their assigned gender not so much as a legal act conducted in relation to codified norms, but as an immutable truth of the self. Perhaps some experience gender as beautiful and unchanging, and this is certainly acceptable, as long as it is not assumed that everyone experiences it that way. To derive from the experience of immutable gender assignment a theoretical generalisation or a universal rule is to impose a cruel falsehood on those who experience gender differently, yet gender is presented as frightening.

Not only because it reveals that what was once thought immutable is actually mutable. But because if someone else can practise gay sex or sex reassignment or enjoy sexual images, one denies oneself that the other is experiencing what seems to be an impossible human possibility. This denial becomes a requirement for individuality. And so those lives over there, the others, are experiencing what is established as unthinkable, and making them unthinkable means that they cannot be imagined, so when they do appear, they appear as ghosts with the power to destroy a heteronormative self or its architecture, we might say, which is founded on the denial of these potentialities. Of course, trans people can be thinkable and imaginable by those who do not follow the same life path. The same applies to abortion or lesbian and gay sexuality. But for some, once these issues become thinkable, public and imaginable, they do not appear as possibilities, human possibilities that others may assume that perhaps they are not, but rather as monsters, phantoms that aim to destroy the self, convenient terms that encompass all the world's catastrophes. The foreclosure of these themes leads to their return in paranoid ghosts, and under certain political conditions. These ghosts can be circulated to gain support for movements that target gender and promise to restore patriarchal orders that thrive on vibrant and toxic tautologies. Sex is sex, and debates or challenges are not allowed

I have suggested that the Right is right to fear destruction. Perhaps today we all fear destruction. There are many powers that are destroying our world, our Earth, but gender is not actually one of them. We should be able to name the fear that runs through them, naming the devastation inflicted, as I said, by production capitalists, extractivism and climate disaster, to name but a few. In thinking about our strategies of resistance, it is crucial that gender politics stand against neoliberalism and other forms of capitalist devastation and not become its instrument, that gender politics stand against the continuation of colonisation and all forms of racism. Including those that afflict migrants, and that they take a stand by expanding alliances. It cannot be identity politics and create the world we all want to live in. For it is by virtue of our interdependence that we can survive and prosper. Can we create alliances that reflect this interdependence with human and non-human life? An alliance that opposes the destruction of the climate and stands for a radical democracy, yes, formed from socialist ideals. And so I would say that we must also live if we are to have a transnational alliance in a multilingual world. I conclude by reading a message sent to me by Veronica Gago. Translation is a way of thinking about alliance politics and a transnational register. Translation operates as a form of reappropriation of violence, aetiology and structure as problematised zones of anti-extractivist feminist and popular struggles, so as to produce transnational alliances. Gago warns against the reactionary alliances that so-called trans-exclusionary feminism makes with the right. Thus political translation implies a dispute, a struggle, hand-to-hand over vocabularies and forms of political composition. And in alliance with me, Gago writes that gender is an uncomfortable, multilingual and relational name, a name that sparks many directions of the worlds we want to build. 

And I think that to build these worlds, frankly, we have to make the truth sexy again. I really think so. I think we have to oppose right-wing stripping, fascism and accusations of wokeism, we have to have a different version of humanity and coexistence that is more desirable than any fascist illusion. Just, more desirable, thus making equality, freedom and justice true and sexy, deeply desirable and freely imaginable. And for this, indeed, we need our sociologists and our political scientists, but we also need our artists and our poets. Thank you.


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