Dean Spade's 'Critical Trans Politics'

Dean Spade will visit City College Monday, October 28.  Photo: Johanna Breidling.  










If you aren’t yourself an LGBTQ person or activist, you’d be forgiven for believing LGBTQ rights movements begin and end with marriage rights.

Marriage equality debates have dominated public discourse related to LGBTQ civil rights. And many activists claim it is to the exclusion of crucial policy discussions addressing struggles many LGBTQ people face—particularly youth, people of color, the economically challenged, and those who identify as gender non-conforming, intersex, or transgender.

Dean Spade, a lawyer and transgender rights activist, was focused on addressing the vulnerability of these intersecting populations when he founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a legal aid organization, in 2002 with the mission to help transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. He recognized the high levels of poverty and over-incarceration among these communities and directly addressed the correlation between economic injustice and gender discrimination.

Sylvia Rivera, the center’s namesake, was a veteran of the Stonewall Riots and a tireless activist until her death for self-identified queer people who weren’t achieving the same benefits or impact of gains from the mainstream gay rights movement.

Today, Spade is an associate professor at the Seattle University School of Law and is currently a fellow in the Engaging Tradition Project at Columbia Law School.

On Monday, October 28, from 3:30 to 5:30 PM, Dean Spade will be presenting selections from his recent book, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law in the North Academic Center building’s ballroom at City College of New York.

When: Monday, October 28, 3:30-5:30 PM

Where: North Academic Center Ballroom, 1st Floor, City College of New York, Harlem.

Refreshments will be served.

Register for the event today at

More about Dean Spade:

In his book, Normal Life, Spade uses critical race theory, women-of-color feminism, and other intellectual traditions to analyze the role of law reform in contemporary queer and trans politics. He examines the poverty, violence, criminalization and immigration-enforcement facing trans populations, and questions the utility of anti-discrimination law and hate-crimes laws for addressing these harms. He proposes that a critical trans politics is emerging that rejects law reform as a goal and engages tactically with legal work as it attempts to dismantle apparatuses of racialized-gendered violence like prisons and borders and build alternative structures that meaningfully address contemporary conditions of poverty and violence.