Tag Archives: Dean Spade

Ad Critique: Oh My God– SHOES!


According to The DCist, a Metro ad features a dialogue between two women where one women is informing the other of how it takes over 8,000 miles before a Metrobus breaks down. The other women in response asks, “Can’t we just talk about shoes?”

Unfortunately, this perpetuates the immortal trope of the “ditsy, shoe-crazy woman”. This made me think about how when we were looking over the definition of “gender dysphoria” earlier today in class, there were still specific culturally gender-biased descriptions present.
For instance, part of the definition stated that gender dysphoria includes, “a strong conviction that one has feelings and reactions typical of the other gender” (DSM-5). This part of the definition implies that there has to be certain “reactions” or interest that apply to each specific gender, which is essentialist and false. Also, this seems to reinforce a binary that there are only two kinds of people/two genders in the world.
It’s also interesting to see that the ad features two presumably cisgendered women, since as Spade mentions, “…a central endeavor of feminist, queer and trans activists has been to dismantle the cultural ideologies… that say that certain body parts determine gender identity and gendered social characteristics and roles” (Spade, 2013). This ad seems to further pigeonhole women into these “gendered social characteristics” and implies that women must love to wear heels, thus assigning “femininity” to a body part.
Works Cited:
“Lady Wants To Talk About Shoes, Not Bus Reliability, Implies Sexist Metro Ad.” DCist. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2013. <http://dcist.com/2013/12/ladies_love_shows_says_sexist_metro.php&gt;.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
Spade, Dean. “About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts.” Dean Spade. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://www.deanspade.net&gt;

Big Question: What Is Normal?

In reading about trans* issues, and reading the works of trans* author Dean Spade, I thought about one question that really stood out in my mind: What is normal?

When I ask that, I’m thinking more specifically about Spade’s piece “About Puportedly Gendered Body Parts,” where he mentions that our language regarding people’s bodies is quite cissexist by saying things like “male body parts,” “biologically female” or “female-bodied” (Spade, 2013). In our current state of the English language, we assign certain body parts, such as uteruses, penises, etc. to specific genders (in a very binary fashion) and then we claim that these assignments are “normal”.
I guess the big question could be tailored even more to say, “Does our language have a large effect on how ‘normal’ cis-identities are or are there other external pressures and factors that influence our language?” or “What is the standard we should set in our language to make sure that all identities, including trans* identites, are considered ‘normal’?” Spade has suggested that “We can talk about uteruses, ovaries, penises, vulvas, etc. with specificity without assigning these parts a gender” (Spade, 2013).
While Spade’s idea could potentially catch on in a social context, will this normalization of not assigning specific body parts to specific genders catch on in the medical field, since that seems to serve as a big hurdle in normalizing trans* identities?
Works Cited:
Spade, Dean. “About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts.” Dean Spade. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://www.deanspade.net&gt;

Ad Critique: Toys “R” Us’s Gender-Neutral Toys


Karin A. Martin observes that some parenting consultants tell parents to dismiss “gender nonconformity because the behavior is not really what it appears” (471). It does not seem presumptuous to assume that these advisors support would gender-neutral toys, though likely only for a limited time*. Some people may argue whether or not Toys “R” Us’s use of stereotypically gendered toys is effective toward the gender-neutral parenting stance. The Spiderman costume ad depicts both male and female stereotypical toys: the costume of canonically male superhero and a pink stroller respectively. Dean Spades would likely agree with this advertisement stance, “not arguing for a gender-blind society . . . but instead for a world in which diverse gender expressions and identities occur, but none are punished” (29). Other people may argue for that “society in which all people are similarly androgynous” (Spades 29). This advertisement would not achieve that idea, especially not with the parents who see and buy these toys for their children, having experienced stereotypes associated with gender, particularly the binary ones. However, the ad seems to declare that children can play with those toys regardless of their gender, which would suggest Toys “R” Us’s acceptance of all genders. Unfortunately, it is unknown whether Toy “R” Us would include non-binary genders. Nevertheless, it is a step.

*These advisors may believe gender non-conformity to be a “phase” and that preventing children from playing with toys of another gender “will create a problem” or backfire (Martin 470).

Works Cited:
Martin, Karin A. “William Wants A Doll. Can He Have One?: Feminists, Child Care Advisors, and Gender-Neutral Child Rearing.” Gender and Society, 19.4 (2005): 456-479). Print.

Spade, Dean. “Resisting Medicine, Re/modeling Gender.” Berkeley Women’s Law Journal (2003): 15-37. Print.

Torres, Alec. “U.K. Toys ‘R’ Us Going Gender Neutral.” National Review Online. Web. 3 December 2013. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/357731/uk-toys-r-us-going-gender-neutral-alec-torres.

Ad Critique: Macklemore’s ACLU Ad

Though it is important for there to be allies in order to bring about change and equality, there is just something about the language in this ACLU ad that just seems a bit too simplistic. In this ad, Macklemore is basically saying that by having the ACLU card, the forces that oppress queer people and women will just vanish and everything will be okay in the world. Even within his statements, there is a problem with the language he uses because he makes it sound like all his gay friends want to do is get married, fitting into a very heteronormative framework. Also, I feel like I’ve become more sensitive to gendered language surrounding body parts since reading the article by Dean Spade, “About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts”. Just by saying “Hey girl, you can do whatever you want with your vagina” this not only denies that other kinds of people can have vaginas but also simplifies the autonomy that women have over their bodies to just having to do with their sexual organs. I am not saying that Macklemore or the ACLU are awful for creating this ad, but I think by really breaking down the language people use, we can start to open up to more inclusive ways to discuss different types of people who are normally brushed aside and not even considered by society such as those who identify as trans*.

Spade, Dean. “About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts.”

Ad Critique: NuvaRing

This video is of the updated NuvaRing advertisement. If you look closely, one of the older ads is playing in the background. This relates closely to the Angela Davis reading “Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights.” The NuvaRing is a form of birth control that is advertised as being more convenient than the pill. However, it is quite expensive. While in the long term, as compared to the pill, it might save money, the thing about being poor is that you may have some money at a given time but maybe not enough to actually afford the one-time NuvaRing. This already puts up a class barrier as to who can actually get this form of birth control. Next, there is the definite race component. These ads, both the current and old ones have all white women except for the “token black woman.” There is little diversity, which also ties back in to the Davis reading. Their target audience is primarily white middle to upper class people. That is where they perceive the money to be. This ad is also noticeably full of cis women. As brought up in both of the Spade readings, bodies are not inherently gendered. There are people who are not cis women who also could benefit from this product (but are most likely going to be denied it or misgendered in order to get it). The gendering of certain bodies definitely influences the availability of medical care available and presented to them.

Big Question: What is the gendered body?

To put a gender onto a set of organs is inaccurate at best and incredibly harmful at worst.  In Dean Spade’s reading “About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts,” he talks about how reinforcement of certain organs being attributed to certain genders is inaccurate and enables the perpetuation of stereotyping and enforcing certain gender norms. It additionally presents unfortunate consequences to the people that don’t align with the gender that people typically associate with that set of genitals.  This can also pose problems, as brought up in Spade’s other reading “Resisting Medicine Re/Modeling Gender”  with regards to there being such a heavy influence on organs and gender that people who identify as non-cisgender who would like top/bottom/”facial feminization”surgeries (I recognize the also heavily gendered connotation of the phrase “facial feminization” however that is the only current term for what that surgery does) need a special diagnosis of GID to even get it because of how heavily gendered the body parts are. Another way that gendering body parts is dangerous is very explicitly outlined in “The Sexual Politics of Sickness” where it is discussed that not too long ago, all ailments of cis women were blamed entirely on the uterus and ovaries.  There was an assumption that cis women (which was really the category of “all women that anyone cared about”) and the gendering of that specific body part led to thousands of women being forced to lead a life that caused them nothing but depression because of some “mysterious” illness that was the “female condition” relating heavily to the uterus and ovaries.

Big Question: What is Fairness?

In the United States, the supposed public creed is fairness. Through the legal system, it is evident that America purports justice, fairness and equity as central ideals. However, legal interpretations and verdicts have not always yielded a ‘fair’ outcome; what exactly is fairness? Does fairness mean giving everyone the same expectations and opportunities? If so, how can America accommodate diversity? What happens when different types of people want different opportunities and have different expectations for their own lives? Clearly, the uniformity of the law is compelling because it deters prejudicial law, however this uniformity can also be conversely crippling because it does not always allow for necessary complexities that people have.

The transgender population suffers under the law’s uniformity and its’ ‘fairness’ because this group does not fit neatly into the law and there is additional diversity within the transgender population. Specifically, healthcare law largely does not protect self-identified transgender people fairly. As with women’s health, healthcare policies are primarily reserved powers that states have. The law’s disunity on transgender healthcare policies, which diverges on state lines, directly contradicts ethos of fairness and inhibits one’s freedom.



Dean Spade, “Resisting Medicine, Re/modelling Gender” (2003)