Enslaved by one's body? Gender, citizenship and the "wrong body" narrative

Paddy McQueen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper uses the concepts of slavery, citizenship, the body and political subjectivity to interrogate how gendered bodies are produced, regulated and normalised. It explores the ‘wrong body’ claim within transsexual narratives to analyse how we can be enslaved by/to our body. The coercive force of embodied existence is demonstrated by examining how gender norms act on us through our bodies, thus identifying the body as a major conduit of power. It argues that the ‘wrong body’ claim must be understood as a discursive construction that is rendered possible by established gender norms and practices, which place heavy restrictions on the available actions of individuals. These norms and practices are linked to the normalising processes of becoming an acceptable citizen. It is argued that the enslaving effects of embodiment can be mitigated through constructing alternative narratives of gender based upon performativity and fluidity. Such alternative gender narratives are used to contest and disrupt the meaning of the acceptable citizen, thus opening up new claims for citizenship and new forms of embodied subjectivity. These narratives are then used to critique the medical community's understanding and treatment of transsexuality, which is itself a site of coercion and normalisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-48
Number of pages16
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number5
Early online date22 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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