Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Judith Butler

Born in Cleveland and educated at Yale, Butler has become an influential contemporary philosopher. A prolific author, she has published work on literary theory; feminism and queer theory; gender and sexuality; ethics and moral philosophy; and political rhetoric. Her best known book, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), reached a broad international audience far beyond academic circles. In it, she argued for “the performativity” of gender. Sex, gender, and sexuality are not fixed categories or identities we are born with, but are formed and constructed through daily repetition of behavior and cultural norms. Even when not aware of it, individuals are “performing” the gender and sexual identities that then come to seem natural and define who we are. Butler began teaching at University of California Berkeley in 1993, and has received the prestigious Andrew Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award. She has been active in a number of political movements, including speaking out against Israel’s policies toward Palestinians.