Taking Oneself in Earnest, Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology and Trans discourse


  • Fabius Schöndube


Trans Studies, Gender Studies, Phenomenology, Critical Phenomenology, Philosophical Anthropology, Helmuth Plessner


Within the field of Trans studies we are faced with an issue. While there have been advances in the acceptance of Trans identities, contemporary discourse rallying against Trans people is gaining attention and support. The points raised in inflammatory debates or viral posts often do not reflect the actual lived experience of those interacting as, or with, Trans people. In my view what stands at the core of this hateful conduct is the anxiety that comes from encountering someone that seems to be living out another conception of the world. In this essay I would like to approach the so-called Trans-debate by focusing on the intersubjective encounter with that which is other. I will do so by employing Helmuth Plessner’s work on ontology and political anthropology. Plessner's conception of the human — as the site of a constant difficult dialogical self-negotiation — offers a much-needed anti-radicalising approach to the experience of/of Trans people, helping us understand the creative violence inevitably involved in the Trans challenge to the colonially established cis-gender-embodiment consensus. The following essay will then try to lay the groundwork for the analysis of the aspect of intersubjective meaning making which defines being human by moving from the ontological towards the political.