Co-opted, but not forgotten. PLUS: rethinking dyslexia, and stop saying ADHD causes crime!!!
Greetings my sluggy brethren,
I didn’t write the free post this week because, well, I was tired. (It’s called sluggish, okay, I built it into the branding.) But! I did send some other free things out into the digital void:
One of the only things I still like doing on Instagram: I crowdsourced a trans reading list by asking for everyone’s favorite trans books! I got some really good suggestions, lots of stuff I love but also a lot I haven’t heard of before, and you can find it in the trans reads highlight on my IG.
This week’s livestream on Le Spiral Lab was about how Marta and I fixed our executive dysfunction! We are cured! Okay, I’m sorry, we did a clickbait — it’s actually about how rejecting the paradigm altogether is the only way we began to be “functional” again. It was a very casual convo and lots of people stopped by to comment and ask questions. I am having fun practicing the talking with my mouth!
I’m gonna make the first section of this round-up available to all ya’ll on the free list, so you can still get your Sluggish fix. I expect to be back to regularly-scheduled programming next week.
ADDitude Conceptually Butchers Neuroqueer
If there is one constant you can always rely on in The Capitalism, it is that everything, everything, gets co-opted. All radical ideas will inevitably be seized upon by the market, stripped of their teeth, and used to sell your values back to you. This is just how it works, and “neuroqueer” is no exception.
While technically correct, according to Nick Walker’s original definition(s) of the term, ADDitude used the most simplistic, literal description possible of neuroqueer: being both neurodivergent and LGBTQ+.
To explain what’s wrong with this, perhaps we need to zoom out a bit and talk about the term queer, which was also stripped of its politics over recent decades and turned into an empty branding opportunity for multinational banks during Pride Month.
In queer theory, queering is considered a verb. It’s something you do, not something you are. There are lots of gay people who don’t queer anything — who want to live normal, middle-class, white-picket, 9-to-5 type lives. You know the phrase, Assimilation is Not Liberation?
That came out of the historical sidelining of more radical gay politics for liberal inclusion-based goals like marriage and the right to join the military. Those gays who didn’t want to be merely accepted into institutions, but wanted to break them down, reclaimed the word queer and embraced deviance, sluttery, monstrosity and perversion.
As we are seeing now with the systematic push to roll back rights to trans healthcare and bodily autonomy, rights like marriage equality can only be seen as “liberatory” by a certain kind of LGBTQ who wants to live a certain kind of “normal” life that does not rock the sociopolitical boat.
Where am I going with this? Oh, right. ADDitude Magazine does not want to change social norms, either — they are a trade publication for the ADHD industry that mostly put out articles which reinforce those norms, and (nicely, politely!) help people labelled deviant conform to them.
Politically, they’re kinda like the marriage-and-military gays of the neurodivergent landscape. Liberal and using all the right terminology (like, intersections), but absolutely in line with capitalism, individuality, and state authority in general.
Neuroqueer was a word created to denote an active resistance to those things, what Walker said she considered “a verb first and an adjective second”:
…neuroqueering as the practice of queering (subverting, defying, disrupting, liberating oneself from) neuronormativity and heteronormativity simultaneously. It was an extension of the way queer is used as a verb in Queer Theory; I was expanding the Queer Theory conceptualization of queering to encompass the queering of neurocognitive norms as well as gender norms––and, in the process, I was examining how socially-imposed neuronormativity and socially-imposed heteronormativity were entwined with one another, and how the queering of either of those two forms of normativity entwined with and blended into the queering of the other one.
A neuroqueer individual is any individual whose identity, selfhood, gender performance, and/or neurocognitive style have in some way been shaped by their engagement in practices of neuroqueering, regardless of what gender, sexual orientation, or style of neurocognitive functioning they may have been born with.
Queering is intentionally fucking with social norms, not just being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and we could say the same for neuroqueer, which is why seeing this word in a headline from ADDitude Mag feels the same to me as when I see rainbow bullets in a tweet from the U.S. Marines.
These institutions support queer people, but only if those queer people don’t actually queer anything.