But if gender studies is going to serve as a helpful guide for the next century, it must abandon its invented dualisms of sex and gender, nature and nurture, embodiment and social construction. Gender sociologists need to study the way human beings actually live rather than the way they wish we would live. They need to become less ideological and more scientific.
I share Kimmel’s desire to see genuine equality between women and men. Indeed, much of Kimmel’s work has the salutary effect of deconstructing misguided assumptions about gender that deserve to be abandoned to the rubbish heap of history, such as the pervasive tendency to identify masculinity with violence or femininity with intellectual weakness. The liberation of women for social and political equality during the past century was a moral imperative, long overdue and clearly to the long-term benefit of Western society.
Because prisons depend on strict male-female division, the life and sanity of the transgender prisoner is at high risk. So how can our movement, dedicated to freedom for all, collectively create safe space for the voice and development of this section of our movement? One, break down the assumptions and prejudices within our movement: prisoner does not mean “Black male”, transgender does not mean “white fairy”. Also, we need to collectively create space for the voices of transgender prisoners, so that their needs and issues can be identified by themselves, to be addressed by our movement as a whole. By centering the most vulnerable sections of our movement, their issues become all our issues, we fight together with mutual solidarity, our struggle as a whole is greatly strengthened. People who stand outside the system have much experience in self defense; we seek to build on their momentum, to encourage political analysis and action, so that the lessons they have learned through their struggles can be shared and incorporated into our larger struggle.