Going Stealth

Transgender Politics and U.S. Surveillance Practices

Book Pages: 208 Illustrations: 6 illustrations Published: January 2019

Author: Toby Beauchamp

American Studies, Cultural Studies > Surveillance Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Trans Studies

In Going Stealth Toby Beauchamp demonstrates how the enforcement of gender conformity is linked to state surveillance practices that identify threats based on racial, gender, national, and ableist categories of difference. Positioning surveillance as central to our understanding of transgender politics, Beauchamp examines a range of issues, from bathroom bills and TSA screening practices to Chelsea Manning's trial, to show how security practices extend into the everyday aspects of our gendered lives. He brings the fields of disability, science and technology, and surveillance studies into conversation with transgender studies to show how the scrutinizing of gender nonconformity is motivated less by explicit transgender identities than by the perceived threat that gender nonconformity poses to the U.S. racial and security state. Beauchamp uses instances of gender surveillance to demonstrate how disciplinary power attempts to produce conformist citizens and regulate difference through discourses of security. At the same time, he contends that greater visibility and recognition for gender nonconformity, while sometimes beneficial, might actually enable the surveillance state to more effectively track, measure, and control trans bodies and identities.


"[Going Stealth] accomplishes the best of what we imagine theory to be good for—making sense of our everyday experiences, grounding personal interactions with the state in histories of structural oppression, and illuminating the broader context of our banal negotiations between dignity, resilience, convenience, resistance, politics-inpractice, and privilege. . . . Going Stealth is a helpful contribution to multiple literatures, and it demonstrates the ways in which robust interdisciplinarity also requires solidarity in scholarship." — Lyndsey P. Beutin, Society & Space

"For academics and those with the wherewithal to struggle through it there's a great deal of intellectual value to be found in a book such as this." — Hans Rollmann, PopMatters

Going Stealth is … topical and urgent, delving into contemporary hot-button issues of gendered bathrooms and TSA screening practices.”

— Elise Morrison, TDR: The Drama Review

"Beauchamp's multilayered 'transgender critique' adds to the literature on the subject in several meaningful ways.…Interestingly, the theory of intersectionality and critical race theory are conspicuously absent from the text, though it is grounded in their principles." — K. Gentles-Peart, Choice

"Going Stealth is written into scholarship that moves transgender studies beyond concentration on identity. Moreover, it is a significant contribution to research at the juncture between gender, sexuality, race, disability and surveillance studies. Going Stealth should appeal to any scholar in cultural studies, sociology and border studies." — Iwo Nord, European Journal of Women's Studies

"Going Stealth is an enjoyable read, offering timely reflection on security, conformity, fear, citizenship, and difference in our turbulent times." — Sara L. Crawley, Gender & Society

"Going Stealth will be useful for expanding on and bringing together the works of transgender studies and cultural studies, in particular appealing to sexuality scholars in general. This book will be of interest to those who are interested in the intersections between visibility, security, gender deviance, dis/ability, race, gender, class, sexuality, and nation/citizenship." — Kerry Scroggie, Amanda Brown & Esther Rothblum, Journal of Homosexuality

"Beauchamp takes great pains to establish that the very capacity for going stealth, for being intelligible according to binary gender norms vis-à-vis various state and non-state surveillance practices, is a mark of the racial and economic privilege that underscores and is assumed by mainstream transgender movements that seek accommodation via assimilation into binary normative heteropatriarchal structures of citizenship grounded in whiteness and access to capital.…His capacity to draw on multiple historical and contemporary archives to situate debates about gendered structures of inclusion and exclusion within struggles for racial and economic justice more broadly  makes going Stealth a key text in critical trans/gender studies." — Ann Travers, Surveillance & Society

“Beauchamp’s Going Stealth is a careful meshwork of historical and political analysis, attentive to the problems of existing critical frames.”

— Tony Wei Ling, Catalyst

“This innovative book is an important contribution to both trans studies and surveillance studies—particularly to analyses of the War on Terror, border enforcement, and identity documentation. Toby Beauchamp convincingly weaves together arguments about surveillance, migration, and trans embodiment. Making several critical interventions in trans studies and trans advocacy, this book addresses the ways that whiteness and immigration status are often assumed characteristics of trans subjecthood.” — Dean Spade, author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law

Going Stealth is a brilliant intervention in the field of transgender studies and beyond, by way of its critique of the violent capacities of the surveillance state. From the identification document as an administrative practice to the airport and the public bathroom as sites where the anxieties of the state around certain bodies and bodily technologies play out, Toby Beauchamp traces a complex account of militarism, monitoring, and refusals. This book is essential reading for those who seek to understand and critique how surveillance arranges our lives.” — Simone Browne, author of Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Toby Beauchamp is Assistant Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction. Suspicious Visibility  1
1. Deceptive Documents  24
2. Flying under the Radar  50
3. Bathrooms, Borders, and Biometrics  79
4. Sensitive Information in the Manning Case  107
Conclusion. On Endurance  131
Notes  141
Bibliography  173
Index  185
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0157-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0122-5
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