According to Whom am I Happy? Identity Formation and Transfeminist Care Ethics in Imogen Binnie’s Nevada

  • Jase Falk University of Winnipeg


In this essay, I will provide an analysis of Imogine Binnie’s 2013 novel Nevada. I argue that Nevada is a counter-narrative to both traditional depictions of the road narrative as well as mainstream understandings of transition narratives. Drawing on Lauren Berlant’s concept of “Cruel Optimism” and Sarah Ahmed’s critique of cultural understandings of happiness in her essay “Unhappy Queers,” I will show how Binnie complicates normative understandings of trans identity which rely on trans people assimilating into cisgender heterosexual society. I then read the brief connection between Nevada’s two main characters, Maria and James, through Amy Marvin’s “Transfeminist Care Ethics” to show how Binnie rejects the impulse towards individualistic self-realization and instead posits the complicated and sometimes painful connections between transgender subjects as the real site of James and Maria’s identity formation.