Event Date
Sep 10, 2009
Liz Montegary, UC Davis
Toby Beauchamp, UC Davis

Toby Beauchamp and Liz Montegary


Queering Race, Policing Bodies

The Face of Gays in the Military: Neoliberalism, Multiculturalism, and the ‘Right To Fight’
Liz Montegary, UC Davis

This paper examines how calls for the repeal of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, mainstream lesbian and gay organizations like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) often rely on the testimonies of lesbian and gay service members who “come out” against the federally mandated ban on openly homosexual conduct in the military. Eric Alva, a gay Latino marine who lost his leg to a landmine as the first American casualty in the second Iraq war, has become one of the most visible and vocal figures in the recent campaign to end the discrimination of lesbian and gay servicemembers. Through an examination of how the figure of Alva circulates within lesbian and gay rights discourse, this paper investigates the ways in which these activist practices rely on his disabled body of color in order to depict lesbians and gay men as patriotic citizens and thus to justify their claims on the state. Bringing together the fields of queer studies, critical race studies, and disability studies, Montegary interrogates the strategic incorporation of marginalized subjectivities into political projects advocating for the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Who counts as legitimate, who is further marginalized by policies of inclusion, which must necessarily imply exclusion?

Documents and Disguises: Transgender Politics, Travel, and U.S. State Surveillance
Toby Beauchamp, UC Davis

This paper 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.