A Possible Cripistemology of the Queer: Modes of Dismantling “Ability” and “Heterosexuality” in Transgender Autobiographies

Oindri Roy and Amith Kumar P.V.

The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad



Based on A. Revathi’s The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life-Story (2010) and Kate Bornstein’s A Queer and Pleasant Danger (2012), the paper explores the possible connections that arise between the two autobiographies while articulating the similar praxis of living beyond gender norms, though in very distinctive cultural contexts. The comparability of the texts provides grounds to construe “queer” and “disability” in the transsexual experiences as symptomatic but not solely based on the common negation of “compulsory heterosexuality” and “compulsory able-bodiedness” as imposed social constructs. The process of “transgendering” (Ekins and King 34) as initiated by the sense of disability/queerness of being in the “wrong body” is also explored through the study of the narratives. Both Revathi and Bornstein are affected by an innate desire for a “feminine” form of existence as well as the social injunction of following the dictates of “normality” and “ableism” vis-à-vis the gender attributed at birth. The surgical and hormonal transformations do not lead to a psychosocial “rectification” and may culminate in a dysfunctional womanhood. Revathi’s unrequited love and failed marriage and Bornstein’s inability to “qualify” as a lesbian will be read as instances of how the inadequacy of social structures is misconstrued as a “gender-impairment” in the individual and instituted as “hijra” or “butch.”


Keywords: transgender; hijra; disability; autobiography