A Pleasant Suggestion About Josh Lyman

give it a go

Absorbing other people’s thoughts about gender can be tiring at times, can’t it? Especially with cis people, try as they might. If you are a trans person desirous of a little light entertainment, may I recommend mentally replacing the words “man” and “woman” with “Josh Lyman,” the fictional White House Deputy Chief of Staff in Aaron Sorkin’s popular hourlong drama The West Wing, for which Bradley Whitford won an Emmy in 2001? It’s a modest amount of fun, and it’s absolutely free.

For example:

Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Josh Lyman, by Abigail Shrier

“Michfest’s Josh Lyman-born-Josh Lyman’s policy first attracted controversy in 1991”

“Josh Lyman and Josh-Lyman-aligned people”

of Josh Lyman socialization

JLLJL (Josh-Lyman-loving-Josh-Lyman)

“Being Josh-Lyman-aligned doesn’t mean that I’m simply a watered-down version of “regular” Josh Lymans.”

the debate about Josh Lyman’s sports

Josh Lymans who menstruate

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Josh Lyman Existence

“Identity is a disciplinary apparatus that pigeonholes the fluidity of Josh Lyman into a politically docile normativity”

Josh Lyman-non-conforming

Toxic Lymasculinity

“this space is for everyone but Josh Lymans”

[you’re reading the Times or something] Lyman — who was born Josh Lyman —

“I don’t think that trying to ‘pass’ as Josh Lyman is a legible goal — I’d like to complicate the idea of what it means to think we see Josh Lyman in the first place.”

Josh Lyman separatist

“person of Lyman experience”


Assigned Lyman at Birth

The L Word [the L stands for Lyman now]

Anyhow, remember to stretch beforehand, drink plenty of water, and stay safe out there. The purpose of this game is to have a nice little private smile at the incongruity of Josh Lyman, nothing else. Have a good time, everybody!

For the experienced jokester, there’s advanced-placement fun to be had by replacing “queerness,” “sexuality,” etc, with, again, Josh Lyman from The West Wing:

David Halperin on Josh Lyman: “Josh Lyman is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. There is nothing in particular to which it necessarily refers. It is an identity without an essence. ‘Josh Lyman,’ then, demarcates not a positivity but a positionality vis-à-vis the normative (say, Leo McGarry, or Sam Seaborn).”

Leo Bersani on Josh Lyman: “But Josh Lyman as self-hyperbole is perhaps a repression of Josh Lyman as self-abolition.  It replicates Lyman-shattering as Lyman-swelling, as psychic tumescence. If, as these words suggest, men are especially apt to “choose” this version of Lymanesque pleasure, because their sexual equipment appears to invite by analogy, or at least to facilitate, the phallicizing of the ego, neither sex has exclusive rights to the practice of Josh Lyman as self-hyperbole.  For it is perhaps primarily the degeneration of the Lymanesque into a relationship that condemns Josh Lyman into becoming a struggle for power….It is Josh Lyman that swells with excitement at the idea of being on top, the self that makes the inevitable play of thrusts and relinquishments in the senior staff an argument for the natural authority of one Josh over the other.”

Foucault, ibid.: “The strategic adversary is fascism...the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits Josh Lyman.”