South End Press's Reviews > Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law

Normal Life by Dean Spade
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"In this urgently needed analysis, Dean Spade challenges those of us who are concerned with trans and queer liberation to go beyond the limits of legal reform efforts intent on achieving formal equality to build social justice movements focused on a radical redistribution of resources and power. By providing examples of on-the-ground strategies to challenge transphobia and gender-based violence, Spade articulates a critical trans politics and powerfully demonstrates the liberatory possibilities of combining legal tactics and mass-based grassroots approaches to achieve long-term transformative change. Normal Life should be read, not only by legal scholars and trans activists, but by everyone who is interested in challenging capitalism, colonialism, racism and patriarchy in the 21st century.” ~Angela Y. Davis, author, activist, and Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness, UC Santa Cruz

"Dean Spade’s long-awaited book is a critical intervention that troubles the role of legal reform in social justice struggles. Spade’s articulation of trans politics goes beyond seeking the representation of trans people in social justice struggles, but demonstrates how activists on all fronts often unthinkingly redeploy the logics of white supremacy, imperialism, and heteropatriarchy through legal form. Spade asks not, how does the law recognize trans people, but how is the law itself the means by which gender is created and policed? This book in an invaluable resource not just for rethinking gender justice, but for rethinking how we do social justice organizing in general." ~Andrea Smith, author of Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide and Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances

"Sharply political, deeply intellectual, broadly accessible, Normal Life is exactly what we need right now. Beginning with the immediate everyday needs of transgender people, Dean Spade moves on to provide a brilliantly illuminating analysis of the forces of power constraining us all. This is a must read book for everyone who cares about social justice." ~Lisa Duggan, author of Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy and Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence and American Modernity

"In pointing out the specific mechanisms of social power that oppress gender-variant lives, and in suggesting strategies of resistance, Dean Spade monkey-wrenches the bigger apparatuses of control that work to turn all of our bodies intro resources for nation, state, and capital. This street-smart and theoretically sophisticated little book should be required reading for all would-be radicals looking for practical ways to build a better future. " ~Susan Stryker, Associate Professor, Gender Studies, Indiana University-Bloomington

"This original, visionary, urgent, and brilliantly argued book significantly advances political theory and social movement criticism. The book's analysis of contemporary economic and legal structures clarifies the linkages between the systems of repression that all people working for justice encounter. Spade has produced an essential and exciting book for these challenging times." ~Urvashi Vaid, author of Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation

"Dean Spade is a visionary thinker and one of our most talented theorists of resistance. In [Normal Life], Spade applies his legal, political and critical acumen to the profoundly difficult question of how to craft a social justice agenda at a time when transformative ideas tend to be coopted almost as quickly as they emerge. Cautioning against a model of legal reform, he reminds us not to look to the law to remedy the very systems that the law itself has created. In a mind-blowing critique of nonprofit structures, he points to the ways that non profits extend the reach of corporate capital. And throughout the book he nudges transgender politics away from individual calls for recognition and towards new forms of accountability that benefit the whole community and not just it's most elite representatives. Read this book, and when you have finished, read it again! ~Jack Halberstam, author of Female Masculinity (1998) and The Queer Art of Failure (2011)
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