Gender Reveal Party – Final Update

Hello! I’m posting late because my advisor allowed me to continue to contribute to my project after the deadline, and I wanted this last post to reflect my entire writing experience.

As I noted in my previous post, I stopped reading and annotating texts at the sixty-five hour mark; I had thorough outlines for three essays, and I expected to finish them in fifteen to twenty hours of work. The writing process turned out to be much different (not to mention more time-consuming) than I expected, and I want to talk about the ways it challenged my expectations and what it’s taught me about philosophy writing in the last few weeks.

The biggest surprise for me was how dramatically different writing open-ended research was from writing essays for class. When I’m writing philosophy for a class, I work within narrow limits; even if I choose the subject myself, I’ll usually talk to the professor in advance to bring it within certain parameters. Ultimately, I’ll make the difficult decisions in advance, and I only have to make smaller decisions while I’m actually writing the essay. My exact position on a subject may evolve while I’m writing, but I typically know exactly what I plan to discuss and which sources I’ll use to defend my position. Writing these essays, I was often forced to reevaluate my sources and even to change the subject of an essay to meet the needs of my argument. Deciding which sources, as well as which of my own ideas, were useful or extraneous required substantial consideration during the writing process, and I did not expect to struggle in this way.

I was also surprised by how little I directly referenced the sources I spent so much time reading and annotating. I took thorough notes on parts of the readings that I thought were especially relevant to my research, and I expected to quote and paraphrase them frequently. As I began work on the first essay, however, I realized that citing every idea that shaped my thinking would make my own philosophy unreadable. Rather than citing every point of similarity with other texts, or using quotes from other authors to illustrate every point I made, I tried to cite sparingly, crediting original ideas while also summarizing others’ work as little as possible.

As I expressed in my previous post, this research has also affected me as I’ve embraced a trans identity. While reading gave me new ways to think about how gender—my gender—might be, writing allowed me to pin some of these feelings down in a way that I found coherent and useful. In my proposal, I wrote that this research would be valuable for social justice, but as I reflect on what I’ve produced, I think it’s clear that my primary goal has not been to reduce injustice, but to give other queer people tools that they might use to lead more fulfilling lives. Each of these essays has demonstrable practical value in my own life as I navigate multiple queer identities, and I hope that they will be helpful to others like me. Linked below are the most updated versions of each essay on Google Docs.

Letting Go of the Truth: A Queer Guide to Ethical Lying

Gender Futures, Gender Destiny

Queer Identity Power