Who do they think they are and what do they think they are doing: the construction and establishment of trans and non-binary or genderqueer identities in a trans youth group

Marguerite, Andolie. 2019. Who do they think they are and what do they think they are doing: the construction and establishment of trans and non-binary or genderqueer identities in a trans youth group. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis contributes to understandings of the changing field of trans and gender identities in the UK by examining the construction and establishment of trans and nonbinary identities in a trans youth group for people aged 13 to 25. I discuss the results of an ethnographic study based on reflective observations of youth group sessions over a two-year period, and in-depth qualitative interviews with 11 youth group participants. The interview participants were 17 to 23 with diverse gender identities representative of the identities within the group. One participant, assigned male at birth, preferred a female identity. The others, assigned female at birth, preferred identities including male, trans, non-binary and genderfluid. The participants had a range of engagements with social and medical transitions and were at different stages along their gender trajectories.

I use a ‘communities of practice’ framework alongside a poststructural understanding of identity as unstable, multiple, fluid and performatively constructed. This enables a detailed understanding of the performative process of establishing trans and gender identities as ‘authentic’ within the youth group. Gender is co-constructed with physically sexed bodies, and the materiality of bodies is integral to experiences and understandings of gender and trans. Within the group, bodies and discourses worked together to construct and legitimate ‘authentic’ trans and gender identities.

Changes of name and pronoun, and changes to the body and performance of the body were reified events within the youth group. These marked movement along identity and gender trajectories within the community of practice of the group. Male and female-to-male identities were central and fully legitimated in the group; non-binary and male-to-female identities were partially legitimated and remained marginal, with effects on their perceived ‘authenticity’. I recommend close attention and further research into community processes as they have a significant impact on young trans people’s lives and identities.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00026170

Keywords:

Trans, gender, non-binary, genderqueer, communities of practice, youth, masculinity, femininity

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies

Date:

31 January 2019

Item ID:

26170

Date Deposited:

04 Apr 2019 15:20

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 17:40

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/26170

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