I) Performativity

Performativity is directly tied to the ways in which one cites norms to construct or perform their identity, and the ways that norms are cited by outside powers that perform an intelligible identity on bodies. From their text Gender Trouble (1990), Butler states that "gender proves to be performative - that is, constituting the identity it is purported to be. In this sense, gender is always a doing, though not a doing by a subject who might be said to preexist the deed...There is no gender identity behind the expression of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very "expressions" that are said to be its results" (Butler, 34). In terms of gender, Butler describes the ways that gender identity is performed by citing norms. It is through the citing of certain norms that constructs the gender identity as intelligible; there is no preexisting gender identity that is true or pure that exists prior to the act of citing norms for its construction. In the article 'Where's My Parade?': On Asian American Diva-Nation, Rachel C. Lee explores the ways in which Margaret Cho as an entertainer on a literal stage, through literal performance makes evident the performativity of static and intelligible racial, sexual, gender, and citizenship identities. Through her physical performance on a stage of the leakiness of these categories, Cho is able to queer the separateness between literal performances (as in a comedian on stage) and the performativity of identities through the covert norms that are cited to construct intelligible categories. In Butler's chapter "Critically Queer" from the text Bodies That Matter (1993), Butler discusses the term queer through the lens of performativity. They suggests that instead of understanding Queer as a fixed notion of identity, there should be an understanding and employment of the term Queer more as a verb that 'queers' stable identity categories, their formations and histories, and converging relations of power. To remain queer, the term Queer must constantly be resignified and reworked, and it is "necessary to affirm the contingency of the term" (Butler, 230).
Understanding performativity is central to queering theory in that in order to queer norms, reclaim abjected spaces and identities, and construct new dialogues for ideas about identification, boundaries, passing, temporality, and resistance, there must be an understanding of the ways that norms are cited in the performance and construction of identities in order deconstruct and rework identities.