Digital technologies and the violent surveillance of nonbinary gender

View author details View Less
  • 1 Hunter College, USA
  • | 2 University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • | 3 Georgia State University, USA
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

The enforcement of the gender binary is a root cause of gender-based violence (GBV) for trans people. Disrupting GBV requires that we ensure that ‘gender’ is not presumed synonymous with White cisgender womanhood. Transfeminists suggest that attaining gender equity requires confronting all forms of oppression that police people and their bodies, including White supremacy, colonialism and capitalism (; ). Part of this project, we argue, includes confronting the structures of GBV embedded within digital technologies that are increasingly part of our everyday lives. Informed by transfeminist theory (; ; ; ), we interrogate the ways in which digital technologies naturalise and reinforce GBV against bodies marked as divergent. We examine the subtler ways that digital technology can fortify binary gender as a mechanism of power and control. We highlight how gendered forms of data violence cannot be disentangled from digital technologies that surveil, police or punish on the basis of race, nationhood and citizenship, particularly in relation to predictive policing practices. We conclude with recommendations to guide technological development to reduce the violence enacted upon trans people and those whose gender presentations transgress society’s normative criteria for what constitutes a compliant (read: appropriately gendered) citizen.

  • Ainsworth, C. (2015) Sex redefined, Nature, 518(7539): 288. doi: 10.1038/518288a

  • Amnesty International (2005) USA: Stonewalled: Police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the U.S. (AMR 51/122/2005), https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/AMR51/122/2005/en/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beauchamp, T. (2009) Artful concealment and strategic visibility: transgender bodies and U.S. State surveillance after 9/11, Surveillance & Society, 6(4): 35666. doi: 10.24908/ss.v6i4.3267

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Browne, S. (2015) Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Browning, B. (2020) TSA Allegedly Wanted a Trans Girl to Expose her Genitals Before Boarding her Flight, 10 April, San Francisco, CA: LGBTQ Nation, https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/04/tsa-allegedly-wanted-trans-girl-expose-genitals-boarding-flight/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buolamwini, J. and Gebru, T. (2018) Gender shades: intersectional accuracy disparities in commercial gender classification, Proceedings of the 1st Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency, Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, 81: 7791.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Currah, P. and Mulqueen, T. (2011) Securitizing gender: identity, biometrics, and transgender bodies at the airport, Social Research, 78(2): 55782.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Department of Homeland Security (2014) About REAL ID, Department of Homeland Security, https://www.dhs.gov/real-id/about-real-id.

  • Dreger, A. (1998) Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Drucker, P. (2015) Warped: Gay Normality and Queer Anti-capitalism, Boston, MA: Brill.

  • European Commission (nd) What is gender-based violence?, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/gender-equality/gender-based-violence/what-gender-based-violence_en.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fausto-Sterling, A. (2018) Why sex is not binary, The New York Times, 25 October.

  • Haimson, O.L., Gorrell, D., Starks, D.L. and Weinger, Z. (2020) Designing trans technology: defining challenges and envisioning community-centered solutions, Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 25–30 April: 113. doi: 10.1145/3313831.3376669

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Haynes, J.A. (2013) Identification problems and voting obstacles for transgender Americans, Social Equality, 1(1): 21.

  • Hoffmann, A.L. (2017) Data, technology, and gender: thinking about (and from) trans lives, in Spaces for the Future: A Companion to Philosophy of Technology, New York: Routledge, pp 313.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hope, A. (nd) The Trauma of TSA for Transgender Travelers, CNN, Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/tsa-body-scanners-transgender-travelers/index.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence (2018) Law Enforcement Violence Against Women of Color & Trans People of Color: A Critical Intersection of Gender and State Violence, Redmond, WA: INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, https://incite-national.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/TOOLKIT-FINAL.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • James, S.E., Herman, J.L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L. and Anafi, M. (2016) 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality, https://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/USTS-Full-Report-FINAL.PDF.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Janssen, A. and Voss, R. (2020) Policies sanctioning discrimination against transgender patients flout scientific evidence and threaten health and safety. [Advance online publication], Transgender Health.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Joh, E. (2016) The new surveillance discretion: automated suspicion, big data, and policing, Harvard Law & Policy Review, 10(1): 1532.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Koyama, E. (2003) The transfeminist manifesto, in R. Dicker and A. Piepmeier (eds) Catching A Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the Twenty-first Century, Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press, pp 24459.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kozee, H.B., Tylka, T.L. and Bauerband, L.A. (2012) Measuring transgender individuals’ comfort with gender identity and appearance: development and validation of the transgender congruence scale, Psychology of Women Quarterly, 36(2): 17996. doi: 10.1177/0361684312442161

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kroehle, K., Shelton, J., Clarke, E. and Seelman, K. (2020) Mainstreaming dissidence: examining binary gender in social work’s grand challenges, Social Work, 65(4): 36877. doi: 10.1093/sw/swaa037

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linder, T. (2019) Surveillance capitalism and platform policing: the surveillant assemblage-as-a-service, Surveillance & Society, 17(1/2): 7682. doi: 10.24908/ss.v17i1/2.12903

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Magnet, S. and Rodgers, T. (2012) Stripping for the state: Whole body imaging technologies and the surveillance of othered bodies, Feminist Media Studies, 12(1): 10118. doi: 10.1080/14680777.2011.558352

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McCarthy, O.J. (2019) AI & Global Governance: Turning the Tide on Crime with Predictive Policing, New York: United Nations University Centre for Policy Research, https://cpr.unu.edu/ai-global-governance-turning-the-tide-on-crime-with-predictive-policing.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mogul, J.L., Ritchie, A.J. and Whitlock, K. (2011) Queer (In)justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States, Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Monahan, T. (2009) Dreams of control at a distance: gender, surveillance, and social control, Cultural Studies Critical Methodologies, 9(2): 286305. doi: 10.1177/1532708608321481

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Montesanti, S.R. (2015) The role of structural and interpersonal violence in the lives of women: a conceptual shift in prevention of gender-based violence, BMC Women’s Health, 15(93), doi: http://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-015-0247-5.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Center for Transgender Equality (n.d.) Issues: Anti-violence. Retrieved from https://transequality.org/issues/anti-violence.

  • NCAVP (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs) (2018) A crisis of hate: a report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer hate violence homicides in 2017, New York: NCAVP, http://avp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/a-crisis-of-hate-january-release-12218.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • NCTE (National Center for Transgender Equality) (2014) Social Security Administration No Longer Notifying Employers About Gender, 11 December, Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality, https://transequality.org/press/releases/social-security-administration-no-longer-notifying-employers-about-gender.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • NCTE (National Center for Transgender Equality), ACLU, Family Equality Council, GLAD, HRC, Lambda Legal, NCLR, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Transgender Law Center (2012) Letter re: social security administration policies regarding transgender people, 17 May, https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/ltr_ssa_20120517_transgender-policies.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • O’Neil, C. (2016) Weapons of math destruction: how big data increases inequality and threatens democracy, New York: Crown Publishing Group.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Quinan, C. (2017) Gender (in)securities: surveillance and transgender bodies in a post-9/11 era of neoliberalism, in M. Leese and S. Wittendorp (eds) Security/Mobility: Politics of Movement, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Radicals (2020) The Algorithmic Ecology: An Abolitionist Tool for Organizing Against Algorithms. Retrieved from https://stoplapdspying.medium.com/the-algorithmic-ecology-an-abolitionist-tool-for-organizing-against-algorithms-14fcbd0e64d0.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Richardson, R., Schultz, J. and Crawford, K. (2019) Dirty Data, Bad Predictions: How Civil Rights Violations Impact Police Data, Predictive Policing Systems, and Justice (SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3333423), Social Science Research Network, 94 N.Y.U. L. REV. ONLINE 192 (2019), Retrieved from SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3333423.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scheuerman, M.K. and Brubaker, J.R. (nd) Gender is not a Boolean: Towards Designing Algorithms to Understand Complex Human Identities, Boulder, CO: College of Media, Communication and Information, University of Colorado Boulder, https://cmci.colorado.edu/idlab/assets/bibliography/pdf/Scheuerman2018a.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shelton, J., Kroehle, K. and Andia, M. (2019) The trans person is not the problem: brave spaces and structural competence as educative tools for trans justice in social work, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 46(4): 97123.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Silva, J. M. and Ornat, M. J. (2016). Transfeminism and decolonial thought: The contribution of Brazilian travestis, Transgender Studies Quarterly, 3(1–2): 22027.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Simmons-Duffin, S. (2020) Transgender health protections reversed by Trump administration, National Public Radio, 12 June, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/12/868073068/transgender-health-protections-reversed-by-trump-administration.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Somerville, S.B. (2000) Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Simpkins, R. (2016) Trans*feminist intersections, Transgender Studies Quarterly, 3(1-2): 22834.

  • Starks, D., Dillahunt, T. and Haimson, O. (2019) Designing technology to support safety for transgender women & non-binary people of color, Companion Publication of the 2019 on Designing Interactive Systems Conference 2019 Companion (DIS ’19 Companion), New York: Association for Computing Machinery, pp 28994. doi: 10.1145/3301019.3323898

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stop LAPD Spying Coalition (2018) Before the Bullet Hits the Body: Dismantling Predictive Policing in Los Angeles, https://stoplapdspying.org/before-the-bullet-hits-the-body-dismantling-predictive-policing-in-los-angeles/.

  • Stratistics Market Research Consulting (2020) Airport Full Body Scanner: Global Market Outlook (2019–2027) (No. SMRC19499), Secunderabad, Telangana: Stratistics MRC, https://www.strategymrc.com/report/airport-full-body-scanner-market.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stryker, S. and Bettcher, T. M. (2016) Introduction: Trans/Feminisms, Transgender Studies Quarterly, 3(1–2): 514.

  • TSA (Transportation Security Administration) (nd) Security Screening, Retrieved from https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening.

  • Urban, N., Yesh-Brochstein, J., Raleigh, E. and Petty, T. (2019) A Critical Summary of Detroit’s Project Green Light and its Greater Context, Detroit Community Technology Project, https://detroitcommunitytech.org/system/tdf/librarypdfs/DCTP_PGL_Report.pdf?file=1&type=node&id=77&force=.

  • Waldron, L. and Medina, B. (2019) TSA’s body scanners are gender binary: humans are not, ProPublica, 26 August, New York: ProPublica, https://www.propublica.org/article/tsa-transgender-travelers-scanners-invasive-searches-often-wait-on-the-other-side?token=YxUntiDH12MOMHz5OD1yLBRth4wTzdEG.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weerawardhana, C. (2018) Profoundly decolonizing? Reflections on a transfeminist perspective of international relations, Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, 16(1), 18421.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wirtz, A. L., Poteat, T. C., Malik, M. and Glass, N. (2020) Gender-Based Violence Against Transgender People in the United States: A Call for Research and Programming, Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 21(2), 22741. doi: 10.1177/1524838018757749

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zuboff, S. (2019) Surveillance Capitalism and the Challenge of Collective Action. New Labor Forum, 28(1), 1029. doi: 10.1177/1095796018819461

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 82 82 20
Full Text Views 59 59 3
PDF Downloads 46 46 2

Altmetrics

Dimensions