From Transition To Transitioning: An Anthropological Study of Female To Male Transsexuality

Gonzalez-Polledo Bermudez, Elena. 2010. From Transition To Transitioning: An Anthropological Study of Female To Male Transsexuality. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis explores Female To Male processes of transition through ethnographic and qualitative data gathered during fieldwork in the trans community in London, and through critical engagement with existing discourses of trans sexuality. Despite the greater visibility of Male to Female transsexuality in academic texts and popular culture, FTM transition remains largely under theorised. This research is an anthropological contribution to this field, as well as to current developments in social anthropology and the anthropology of gender.

Transition has been traditionally theorised through the sex/gender distinction, where sex and gender hold different ontological and political values, and it is understood as the passage from 'female' to 'male' in terms of the intersection of a series of biological, psychological, social and legal changes. Even though recent discourses of sexuality have pointed out the limitations of this paradigm, they still reinforce universal models of the relation between sex and gender and abstract categories such as subjectivity, time and experience. However, my informants understood that their transitions were complex and unique, and that their experience of transitioning was not necessarily exclusively about sex/gender. They described their experiences of transition in very different ways, where hormones, surgery and other transitional technologies were not mechanistic agents in their processes, but part of particular assemblages through which change, continuity and time are brought into experience through becoming 'FTM'. Therefore, in this thesis FTM is understood as a particular kind of becoming rather than the passage between static categories.

In the first part of the thesis I explore existing ways of conceptualising transsexuality and transition through a series of theoretical, medical and political' coordinates'. I focus on how the emergence of protocols of clinical management of transsexuality were grounded in the distinction between sex and gender, and unpack some of the ways in which this distinction informed the emergence of political discourses of sexuality and sexual formation through which trans people in Britain construct their individual and collective identities. In the second part I explore three subjects privileged by the participants in my primary research: testosterone, narrative and thresholds. I argue that these domains both reproduce categories and the language of linear passage and demand a different analytic approach. Each chapter explicates 'FTM' by exploring different kinds, scales and temporalities of experience, as well as the kinds, scales and temporalities of the relations between them.

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Thesis (Doctoral)

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transsexuality, FTM transition, trans people, language of linear passage, sex/gender

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Date Deposited:

01 Jul 2020 14:58

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 15:46


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