Because we live in a cisnormative society, trans inclusion is often filtered through cis subjectivities, allowing real or potential allies to “make sense” of transness without decentering their own experiences. This article investigates these dynamics through analysis of “trans aesthetics”—the symbols, language, and cultural meanings stereotypically associated with transness—when used by cisgender queer college students to signal trans-inclusive investments and forge solidarity with trans peers. This study examines three deployments of trans aesthetics: 1) using queer to signal trans-inclusive identities and community, 2) routinizing pronoun introductions, and 3) formulating “similes of oppression” that link trans and cisgender queer people's experiences of heterosexism. While potentiating opportunities for trans solidarity and inclusion, these practices simultaneously reinscribe cisnormative understandings and articulations of gender by empowering cisgender students to filter transness through their own lenses, and to construct hybrid cis subjectivities in the process. Ultimately, this research extends trans and critical allyship studies through empirical analysis of how cisnormativity infuses ostensibly trans-inclusive discourses.

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