The questioning of simple, binary relations and boundaries between sex and gender categories has for some time been foundational to contemporary feminist and queer theorizing. Indeed, such questioning has come into even starker relief as issues and prejudices surrounding trans/nonbinary persons increasingly enter the mainstream. Yet, the dangerously vocal backlash of transphobia to these issues, particularly from ostensible feminists, shows that the status of and relations between sex/gender categories remains a significant political issue for feminist practice. Drawing on the work of Moira Gatens, Judith Butler, and Monique Wittig, this paper argues that the seeming re-entrenchment of biologizing views of ‘woman-hood’ within trans-exclusionary feminism signals a concerning return to direct, binarized relations between male/man/masculine and female/woman/feminine. In this conception of ‘woman,’ the distinction between sex and gender familiar to Anglo-American feminism becomes essentially collapsed: ‘woman’ is seen to proceed necessarily and unproblematically from ‘female’, in a parallel structure to ‘man’ from ‘male’. I argue that what is productively required in response to trans-exclusionary feminism is a categorical collapse in the opposite direction. That is, that sex proceeds from gender, and not the contrary. Or, in what Wittig calls the ‘mark of sex’, that sex must be considered to be just as culturally constructed as gender—both existing as part of a matrix of categories that operate to support heterosexist, transphobic, and ultimately phallocentric conceptions of the self. I argue Wittig’s view of sex/gender categories in this way results in a feminism which remains centred on the situation of women under phallocentric systems of symbolic and literal exchange, while leaving little room transphobic exclusionary practices. This paper thus functions in an ongoing (re)consideration of Monique Wittig’s work on issues of sex and gender, highlighting the original and continuing relevance of her work to feminist theorizing and practice alongside her contemporaries.


01-E302 and online, contact Dr Guillermo Badia at for the Zoom link).