Documents and Disguises: Transgender Politics, Travel, and U.S. State Surveillance

Toby Beauchamp, UC Davis

Toby Beauchamp draws on the critical lens of transgender studies to examine contemporary modes of state surveillance, suggesting that gender-nonconforming bodies are bound up in surveillance practices intimately tied to state security, nationalism, and the "us/them," "either/or" rhetoric that underpins U.S. military and government constructions of safety.

Toby Beauchamp draws on the critical lens of transgender studies to examine contemporary modes of state surveillance, suggesting that gender-nonconforming bodies are bound up in surveillance practices intimately tied to state security, nationalism, and the "us/them," "either/or" rhetoric that underpins U.S. military and government constructions of safety. Analyzing the Real ID Act and activist responses to it, Beauchamp considers the links between racial, sexual, and gender deviances present in the surveillance of gender-nonconforming bodies that has escalated with the global war on terror. Beauchamp argues that new legislation and security practices like those mandated in the Real ID Act draw on a long history of colonialist and scientific logics of classification, through which gender-nonconforming bodies come to be monitored and produced as deceptive threats that must be (often literally) uncovered. At the same time, given activist organizations' stance that new security measures prevent many transgender people from legitimately changing their identification documents, Beauchamp examines the possibility that these responses may reinforce the necessity of such documents, obscuring the ways that appeals for state recognition often require complicity with regulatory norms for bodies and behaviors.

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