"Carceral Normativities: Sex, Security, and the Penal Management of Gender Nonconformity" examines the history of the incarceration of transgender and gender nonconforming people in the US from the early twentieth century to the present. While rarely discussed in prison scholarship and activism, gender nonconforming and transgender prisoners have garnered intense scrutiny from prison administrators and have experienced persistent and pervasive violence. Through archival and legal research, I historicize this violence, arguing that for the last century prison administrators have labeled gender nonconformity as a threat to institutional security or, as I call it, as queer dangerousness, which has structured penal practices and policies used to manage these prisoners and normalized violence against them. I argue that this construction of gender nonconformity as security threat is produced from a set of institutionalized logics, which I call racialized gender normativity. "Carceral Normativities" examines often overlooked and continually evolving prison policies and practices to trace the history of the construction of gender nonconformity as queer dangerousness and institutional security threat as well as how racialized gender normativity has been constructed and reconstructed as a constitutive logic of the prison system. Chapter One examines the history of the construction of penal sex-segregation alongside newspaper stories from the mid-twentieth century of penal administrators "discovering" sexually "misclassified" prisoners in their institutions, in order to argue that the prison system's programmatic design and core understandings of rehabilitation and incorrigibility have been deeply shaped by racialized gender normativity, which produced the imperative to sex-segregate and constructed sexual ambiguity as administrative disorder. Chapter Two traces the history of the systematic segregation of gender nonconforming and transgender prisoners, which began in the early twentieth century and continues into the present, and argues that this segregation was created as a management tool as prison administrators began to identify gender nonconformity as a threat to institutional security, or as queer dangerousness. Chapter Three examines the relationship between dominant penological, social scientific, and legal narratives about sexual violence in penal institutions and the use of sexual violence as a tool of control--a practice I call carceral sexual violence. I argue that narratives, which portray prisons as sites of rampant sexual violence entirely perpetrated by prisoners, construct transgender and gender nonconforming prisoners as simultaneously unrapable and constantly subject to sexual violence, which justifies and obscures many quotidian forms of carceral sexual violence that target gender nonconformity. Chapter Four examines federal civil rights litigation regarding access to hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery for transgender women and argues that carceral necropower, or the production of the prison as a space of death and prisoners as socially dead, and the racialized gender normative construction of gender nonconformity as queer dangerousness securitizes gender-affirming medical treatment in prisons, constructing security concerns as a primary factor determining access to such treatment. Most broadly, "Carceral Normativities" expands our understanding of how the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality shapes carceral constructions of deviance and dangerousness as well as penal policies and practices.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. November 2014. Major: American Studies. Advisor: Regina Kunzel. 1 computer file (PDF);vi, 297 pages.
Carceral Normativities: Sex, Security, and the Penal Management of Gender Nonconformity.
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