Queering Marxist [Trans]Feminism: Queer and Trans Social Reproduction

Nat Raha (University of Sussex)
28 April 2017

Despite the recent resurgence of social reproduction theory and Marxist feminist political praxis, the social reproduction of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) lives remains under-theorised. While heterosexuality as a form of work has long since been considered as part of Marxist feminism’s analysis, the consideration of queer sexualities, and the reproduction of life and labour-power outside and beyond of the cis-, heteronormative nuclear family, have been sidelined in the canon of Marxist Feminism. Bridging the theoretical work of queer Marxism, Black feminism and trans studies, and the political praxis of LGBTQ groups Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries and Wages Due Lesbians, this paper will address the expanded definition of social reproduction necessary to understand the social reproduction of LGBTQ lives.

The paper will argue that the forms of caring labour that enable LGBTQ lives take place in spaces beyond the domestic sphere and within familial forms that exceed the nuclear family; and moreover that such labour includes the reproduction of genders, desires and bodies anchored in non-normativity – work that is often naturalised and not considered as labour. Furthermore, the continued failure of the capitalist socius to support the lives of poor trans women and trans femmes of colour and/or sex workers raises questions of how the politics of queer and trans liberalism(s) devalue and compound the conditions of queer and trans social reproduction under a racialised and gendered division of labour.

Nat Raha is a poet and trans / queer activist, living in Edinburgh, Scotland. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Sussex, working on a thesis titled ‘Queer Capital: Marxism in queer theory and post-1950 poetics’. Her poetry includes two collections: countersonnets (Contraband Books, 2013), and Octet (Veer Books, 2010); and numerous pamphlets including ‘£/€xtinctions’ (Sociopathetic Distro, 2017), '[of sirens / body & faultlines]' (Veer Books, 2015), and 'mute exterior intimate' (Oystercatcher Press, 2013). She's performed and published her work internationally. Nat currently works as a Research Support Assistant for 'Cruising the 1970s: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures' at the Edinburgh College of Art; and her essay ‘Transfeminine Brokenness, Radical Transfeminism’ is due for publication in the South Atlantic Quarterly this spring.

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