Summary Of Judith Butler's Gender Trouble

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In this response paper I continue with my goal of problematizing mainstream concepts in gender theory using ideas generated from transgender studies and my own lived experience as a Filipino transsexual woman. Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, considered to be one of queer theory’s foundational texts, expounds on the notion of gender performativity that describes gender’s ‘truth’ or ‘naturalness’ as a result of repeated reiterations of (highly mediated) permitted acts while repressing contradictory ones. In the chapter “Prohibition, Psychoanalysis, and the Production of the Heterosexual Matrix,” Butler historicizes patriarchy and the transformation of sex into gender and extends the finding of gender’s artificiality to critique the normative ‘heterosexual matrix’ that imposes rigid social rules to follow in order for on to have a valid ‘identity’. She demonstrates the mechanisms that enforce these ‘coherent’ gender identities by mentioning Lévi-Strauss’ structuralism and the exchange of women as a form of kinship (pp. 47-55); Joan Riviere’s ‘womanliness as masquerade’ (pp. 55-73); and Sigmund Freud’s melancholia of gender identification (pp. 73-83).

Butler also briefly refers to transsexuality in this text, and it is from this point that I choose to devote my
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For queer theory, there is no such thing—gender identity is a fiction, an artificial performative product. But the lived experience of many transsexuals of having a fixed, ahistorical self-conception of being a man or a woman presents a challenge to gender performativity’s theorizations. If transsexuals are socialized like everyone else to be normatively gendered according to the sex they were assigned with at birth, then why is it that they keep on affirming another gender, even if they have not been taught to perform it? This is most evident in cases of young transgender
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