Author Dean Spade speaks about gender and social issues

Dean Spade,writer and associate professor of law at Seattle University, spoke on campus Monday about the intertwined issues of gender and other social issues.

Dean Spade stood behind a platform at Watson Theater Monday night to educate the campus community on gender issues intertwined with other social issues, such as poverty, racism and immigration.

Spade is an associate professor of law at Seattle University, teaching administrative law, poverty law, and law and social movements. Also as a lawyer, writer and transgender activist, he gives speeches to different universities on sexual orientation, gender identity and poverty. He mainly focuses on civil rights of LGBT group and people of color.

A lot of resources and opportunities are inaccessible to transgendered people, because society is operated through gender binary, Spade said. Gender enforcement is central to current society or legal systems. People who don't fit gender norms face enormous problems, he said. A lot of transgendered people get fired or marginalized, he said.

A movement pushed by social uprisings made a lot of things change but only change on the surface.  The system transforms enough to preserve the status quo. For example, there have been a lot of reforms in education system but it doesn’t incite change in the way people really expect. He also criticized hate crime policy, suggesting that it merely raises financial costs.

“People declaim it is a gender neutral society, but in reality, it is highly-genderized and racialized,” said Spade, “If you are part of the population that facing economic marginalization and state violence, you should try to change the law.”

Spade brought his recent book, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law Monday night. A full house of students, faculty and people from community came to the talk. A small autograph session was hosted after the lecture. Listeners stood in a massive line and waited patiently for their chance to talk to Spade in person.

Dylan Garrow, a member of Transgender Alliance, attended the talk.

“A lot of stereotypes about transgender should be smashed,” Garrow said. “We just want to be accepted as everyone else. One day, we can have a world where everybody just stays as who they are, not questioned or fought against. It is time for everybody to live happy together.”

Nicole Clement, also a member of Transgender Alliance, showed great interest in the speech as well.

“I am not too familiar with laws, laws that protect us,” Clement said. “That is why I came to see and get familiar with what my rights are and what we can do for the transgender community.”

Margaret Himley, associate provost for international education and engagement at Syracuse University, said she thought the lecture was fascinating.

"He is brilliant,” Himley said. “He keeps challenging the conceptions and ideas, for example about prison. No one should be in prison. It is not a question about being guilty or innocent. But it is the question about the structure. I love the way he thinks.”









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