Trans* Theorizing for Ethics in IR

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This chapter examines the utility of thinking about trans* bodies and trans* lives for thinking about ethics in global politics generally and International Relations (IR) theorizing specifically. It is contextualized in trans* theorizing, “the academic field that claims as its purview transsexuality and crossdressing, some aspects of intersexuality and homosexuality, [and] cross-cultural and historical investigations of human gender identity” (Stryker 2006, 3). Building on previous work about trans* theorizing and trans* bodies in global politics (e.g., Sjoberg 2012; see also Shepherd and Sjoberg 2012), this chapter explores the ways that thinking beyond sexed binaries can provide fodder for thinking ethics in global politics differently. The chapter focuses on three central areas of the potential contribution of such thinking. First, it discusses the ways in which recognizing and foregrounding gender diversity in ethical theorizing can be transformative (Lane 2009; Moreno 2008; Sjoberg 2012). Second, it uses the quagmires of invisibility and hypervisibility in trans* theorizing to discuss the ethics of recognition and recognizability in global politics (e.g., Shotwell and Sangray 2009). Third, it engages trans* theorizing about crossing and disidentification to discuss a potential rethinking of conflict resolution ethics (Heyes 2003; Roen 2002). Across these three examples, the chapter makes the argument that the conceptual and experiential contributions of thinking outside of masculine, heterosexual, and cissexual norms (Warner 1993) can provide important tools for moving beyond inclusion in approaching global ethics (e.g., Haritaworn, Kuntsman, and Posocco 2013).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook to Rethinking Ethics in International Relations
EditorsBirgit Schippers
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print) 9781472479693
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2020


  • gender
  • sexuality
  • ethics
  • international relations
  • trans* theory

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