In recent years, trans lives and criminal punishment reform have hit the mainstream. Politicians, government agencies and media outlets – long the targets of social movements for trans justice and prison abolition – are suddenly articulating desires for the inclusion of trans people and concerns about “over criminalization.” While this interest results from decades of organized political work, it threatens to suggest that our work is done, even as vulnerability to poverty, criminalization, and immigration enforcement continue to increase. In fact, we face our wins being turned against us, as the very sources of violence in our lives appropriate resistant discourses to justify and expand their operations. In this lecture, Dean Spade will reflect on models and practices that challenge the violence of mainstreaming while building abolitionist approaches to trans liberation.
The 2016 Kessler Award goes to Dean Spade, Associate Professor of Law at Seattle University and co-founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. The Kessler Award is given to a scholar who has, over a number of years, produced a substantive body of work that has had a significant influence on the field of LGBTQ Studies. The awardee, who is chosen by the CLAGS Board of Directors, receives a monetary award and gives CLAGS’ annual Kessler Lecture.