This article argues that Helkiah Crooke's 1615 Mikrokosmographia provides early modern trans theory, and trans theory more broadly, with a unique way of understanding the sexed nature of material bodies. While much of trans theory has returned to the material body in order to interrogate its relationship to a constructed or felt sense of self, these theories tend to see the material as subordinate to more malleable immaterial forces. They view the materials of the body as containing possibilities for a new politics, but only possibilities that emerge when bare material is used in relation to gender expression or self-conception.

Crooke, on the other hand, takes bodily materiality as his primary focus and, by not centering agency, provides a more radical theorization of bodily materiality for trans studies. Ultimately, this article sees Crooke's discussions of sexual distinction, which look to the unruliness of materiality itself, as allowing trans studies to move into a place where "trans" itself becomes indistinguishable from "cis," where male and female are revealed not to be performed identities buttressed by embodiment but instead positions untethered from any distinct political or embodied position.


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pp. 227-241
Launched on MUSE
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