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Reconstruction of Gender Law via a Critical Discourse Analysis of Trans and 3rd Wave Feminist Narratives of Sexual Subjectivity

Davies, Edward Burlton (2013) Reconstruction of Gender Law via a Critical Discourse Analysis of Trans and 3rd Wave Feminist Narratives of Sexual Subjectivity. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The factions and discourses of feminism and transgender are often perceived as reciprocally exclusive. Those taken to belong to subjectivities associated with each faction have frequently held this perception. This exclusion may operate because each faction is only supposed to be associated with certain sexual subjectivities. The possible alienation between transgender and feminism is the social problem that the researcher addressed, in order to consider what positive outcomes on the law, as it pertains to gender, may emerge from cooperation between the two factions. To assess this emancipatory potential, the researcher compared primary data in the form of online narratives ventured by a group of trans people with secondary data in the form of published texts identified as narratives of 3rd wave feminism. 3rd wave feminism, transgender theory and post-1970s trans narratives showed potential to align with the inclusive philosophy evident in ethics of care while not foregoing focussed rights pertaining to certain ethnic, sexual and social subjectivities. The resulting postconventional ethics promised to facilitate a legal process that could benefit oppressed genders and that could recognise gender as genre and genealogy rather than as fixed essence. Images of fixed gender essence should give way to the transformation of trans and gender variant people from the ‘Others’ of heteronormativity to empowered others whose difference can be valued or, for those who wish to be accepted as men and women, whose similarity can be respected. The research for this thesis found that value and respect for gender, based upon knowledge and not stereotype, can be facilitated by both by woman’s inclusion-ist politics and by the care of maternal relations in order to reveal trans subjectivity and gender variance as legitimately whole subjectivities. This knowledge has revealed how oppressive elements of discourse such as silence/secrecy, infantilisation, interpellation, gatekeeping, separatism and heteronormativity have affected trans and gender variant people’s ability to manifest a social voice.

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