A binary system of gender is not a fact of nature. Nor is it politically neutral. It has been (and is being) wielded and enforced as a way to consolidate power and to stigmatize, target, discipline, punish, and exclude those who are deemed non-conforming: usually transgender people, intersex people, indigenous people, people of color, people with disabilities, queers, immigrants, women, and others who often demonstrate that alternative models of gender are both viable and valuable. A binary system of gender is enforced through many forms of violence, including the violence of erasure.
These are foundational concepts in transgender, queer, and feminist scholarship.
As scholars and teachers of transgender, queer, and feminist studies, we are painfully and furiously aware of the longstanding history of violence and discrimination faced by trans people. We understand the U.S. federal government’s most recent attempt to define transgender people out of existence as continuous with that history. The Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of Illinois recommits our efforts to support trans, non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming people on our campus, in our local community, and beyond. We call on the rest of the campus and local community to join us in our active commitment to support the interests and lives of trans people and to create more just ways of distributing and inhabiting power.
Department of Gender and Women's Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign