S01 ¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·E17
¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.Disobedient Types 
¸.·`¯´·.¸¸.·`¯´·By Isabelle
White-hetero-male-cisgender-able-bodied norms course through architectural production – constructing and maintaining the very systems of exclusion, inequality, and violence that secure their persistence. “Noncompliant Bodies,” a conference convened by Joel Sanders and Susan Stryker at Yale last month, set out to inscribe new, non-normative, non-binary ways of being in and producing architecture. It laid out (even in the diversity of its participants) a theoretical foundation for resisting this cycle of marginalization: a transdisciplinary approach that was as much architectural as psychological, as much literary as legal, as much constructed as innate, as much historical as contemporary.

The pronounced goal of the conference was to reorient the relationship between bodies and buildings toward social justice. Yet it proposed to do this work through typology: through the restroom, the museum, and the urban street. Yes, typology reproduces the status quo, as Sanders powerfully asserted in his opening remarks. And yes, it is certainly a site of political contestation – where rights are asserted and around which materials and bodies are organized. But using type to address the various ways people are and continue to be marginalized means inheriting its boundaries. It means eclipsing the interconnectedness of different types of spaces themselves and disregarding the way normalizing systems of power tread through and across them. In speaking only about the restroom (the focus of the first day), we miss all the other spaces that train us to behave in certain ways and to expect certain things (like s/he binaries). We miss, for example, the home, and the ways, as Jack Halberstam cautions, it is “always oriented toward a normativity to come." [1]

Architecture is too resolute in its attachment to typology – at least to where a type begins and ends. Type seems most useful when its boundaries dissolve just enough to see what sits alongside it, when we ask ourselves what it means for typology to be just as noncompliant as the bodies within it. Or, to borrow from Avery Gordon, when we are able to glimpse what haunts it: moments “when home becomes unfamiliar, when your bearings on the world lose direction, when the over-and-done-with comes alive, when what’s been in your blind spot comes into view."[2] Building a more accepting architecture means not only looking for the “over-and-done-with,” but orienting ourselves toward typological disobedience, toward not complying with the methods and meanings that have been naturalized for us. As Mabel Wilson (summoning Audre Lorde) reminded us on the last day, “the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.” Our understanding of what spaces are and what they do depends on the words (or types) we assign to them. The challenge now is to rewrite these descriptions, make them more fluid, and then misuse them altogether.
[1] Jack Halberstam, Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018), 62. He said something similar in his keynote conversation with Susan Stryker. 

[2] Avery F. Gordon, Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), xvi.
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