Tey Meadow. 2017. “Whose Chosenness Counts? The Always-Already Racialized Discourse of Trans*” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(8): 1306-1311.
The Jenner/Dolezal moment, while it appears to provide a neat comparative experiment in gender and racial classifications, is itself the artefact of an invisible, already racialized gender system. If we take this question at the heart of Rogers Brubaker’s provocative new book on its own terms, we find, like Brubaker, that very different rules, and indeed, different institutional architectures, govern the two categorical systems. Closer inspection reveals the ways claims to gender legitimacy are always strained through the mesh of racial legitimacy. What is more, the social forces at work in trans “recognition” politics may underwrite some of the most pernicious forms of racialized violence in the contemporary United States.
Tey Meadow. 2014. “Child” Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(1-2): 57-59.
A brief essay on the emergence of “the transgender child” as a social category.
Tey Meadow. 2013. “Studying Each Other: On Agency, Constraint and Positionality in the Field.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 42(4): 466-481.
In this article, I use examples from my ethnographic study of families with transgender and significantly gender nonconforming children to elaborate two features of the fieldwork dynamics endemic to most complex analyses of human life: the constant tension between agency and constraint, and how an individual’s identity and appearance structure every significant interpersonal relationship, including those in the field.
Tey Meadow. 2011. “Deep Down Where the Music Plays: How Parents Account for Childhood Gender Variance” Sexualities, 14(6): 725-747.
Parents of gender variant children routinely negotiate their child’s gender with social institutions, from schools to churches to neighborhood associations. These interactions require that parent develop narratives about why their particular child violates gender norms. In this paper, I argue that over the last century, there has been a proliferation within biomedicine, psychiatry and popular culture of the ways in which we can ‘‘know’’ gender; and as a result, ever more emotional work is required to account for the ‘‘self’’ that inhabits the gendered body. This analysis of the work parents of gender variant children do to explain their children to others demonstrates that these identities require a distinctly modern form of accounting. With that call to articulate the self comes an attendant proliferation of the ways in which gender can be regulated; yet, despite much sociological evidence that medicine, psychology and spirituality are often mechanisms for social control, they also provide ready tools for exploring, facilitating and embracing the multiplicity and plasticity of contemporary gender identities.
Tey Meadow. 2010. “’A Rose is a Rose’: On the Production of Legal Gender Classifications” Gender & Society, 24(6): 814-837.
Gender is perhaps the most pervasive, fundamental, and universally accepted way we separate and categorize human beings. Yet in recent years, U.S. courts and administrative state agencies have confronted a growing challenge from individuals demanding to have their gender reclassified. Transgender people create a profound category crisis for social institutions built on the idea that biological sex is both immutable and dichotomous. During the past four decades, the central legal question shifted from how to allocate specific individuals to categories to the permeability of gender categories themselves. This analysis of 38 judicial gender determinations provides a glimpse of the literal construction of the gender order and of the ways institutions gender individuals. It also provides powerful evidence that cultural anxieties about reproduction and the heterosexual, conjugal family underscore institutional efforts to manage the uncertainty of postmodern gender identities.
Judith Stacey and Tey Meadow. 2009. “New Slants on the Slippery Slope: The Politics of Polygamy and Gay Family Rights in South Africa and the United States.” Politics and Society, 37(2): 167-202.
This article investigates the often cited and dismissed, but rarely examined, relationship between legalizing same-sex marriage and polygamy. Employing a comparative historical analysis of U.S. and South African jurisprudence, ideology, and cultural politics, we examine efforts to expand, restrict, and regulate the gender and number of legally recognized conjugal bonds. South African family jurisprudence grants legal recognition to both same-sex marriage and polygyny while the United States prohibits and resists both. However, social and material conditions make it easier to practice family diversity in the U.S. than in South Africa. Our analysis of the very different histories of polygamy and same-sex marriage in the two societies suggests the centrality of racial politics to marriage regimes, yielding paradoxical narratives about the implications of legal same-sex marriage for the future of polygamy and sexual democracy. If there is a slippery marital slope, we argue, it does not tilt in a singular or expected direction.