Tough Breaks: Trans Rage and the Cultivation of Resilience

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Countering hegemonic understandings of rage as a deleterious emotion, this article examines rage across specific sites of trans cultural production—the prison letters of CeCe McDonald and the durational performance art of Cassils—in order to argue that it is integral to trans survival and flourishing. Theorizing rage as a justified response to unlivable circumstances, a response that plays a key role in enabling trans subjects to detach from toxic relational dynamics in order to transition toward other forms of gendered subjectivity and intimate communality, I develop an account of what I call an “infrapolitical ethics of care” that indexes a web of communal practices that empathetically witness and amplify rage, as well as support subjects during and after moments of grappling with overwhelming negative affect. I draw on the work of trans, queer, and feminist theorists who have theorized the productivities of so-called “negative” affects, particularly Sara Ahmed's work on willfulness and killing joy (), María Lugones's writing on anger (2003), Judith Butler's Spinozan reassessment of the vexed relations between self-preservation and self-destruction (2015), and the rich account of trans rage provided by Susan Stryker ().

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-140
Number of pages20
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Philosophy


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