Advanced Search Your Shopping Bag

Normal Life

Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law

Dean Spade

Pages: 248
ISBN: 978-0-89608-796-5
Format: Paperback original
Release Date: 2011-11-11

Purchase for $19.00

Description of Normal Life.

Please note: we are currently experiencing difficulty with our website shopping cart. To place a book order, the best way in the meantime is to email us at southend@southendpress.org or visit your favorite local independent bookstore. Questions? Please email us directly at southend@southendpress.org. Thank you for your patience and support as we address this!

"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


Check out this short video by author Dean Spade for a quick overview of the work done in Normal Life: Impossibility Now


Wait—what’s wrong with rights?

Much of the legal advocacy for trans and gender nonconforming people in the US has reflected the civil rights and “equality" strategies of mainstream gay and lesbian organizations—agitating for legal reforms that would ostensibly guarantee equal access, nondiscrimination, and equal protection under the law. This approach assumes that the state and its legal, policing, and social services apparatus—even its policies and documents of belonging and non-belonging—are neutral and benevolent. While we all have to comply with the gender binaries set forth by regulatory bodies of law and administration, many trans people, especially the most marginalized, are even more at risk for poverty, violence, and premature--or social--death by virtue of those same putatively neutral legal structures.

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law raises revelatory critiques of the current strategies pivoting solely on a legal rights framework, but also points to examples of an organized grassroots trans movement that is demanding the most essential of legal reforms in addition to making more comprehensive interventions into dangerous systems of repression—and the administrative violence that ultimately determines our life chances. Setting forth a politic that goes beyond the quest for mere legal inclusion, Normal Life is an urgent call for justice and trans liberation, and the radical transformations it will require.

An attorney, educator, and trans activist Dean Spade has taught classes on sexual orientation, gender identity, poverty and law at the City University of New York (CUNY), Seattle University, Columbia University, and Harvard University. In 2002 he founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a collective that provides free legal services and works to build trans resistance rooted in racial and economic justice. In 2010, The Advocate named Spade one of their "Forty Under 40." Utne Reader named Spade and Tyrone Boucher on their list of "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World" in 2009 for their collaborative project Enough: The Personal Politics of Resisting Capitalism, an online journal focused on the personal politics of wealth redistribution. He blogs at www.deanspade.net.

ebook coming soon!

Advance Praise

"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 rethink...

Read more