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Reconceiving cross-dressing: transphobia and support for MTF transgender people socialising in Manchester’s gay village

Middlehurst, Lee Robert Jack (2013) Reconceiving cross-dressing: transphobia and support for MTF transgender people socialising in Manchester’s gay village. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis presents investigations of Male-To-Female (MTF) transgender people, mostly those who are cross-dressers/transvestites, socialising in Manchester’s Gay Village. A systematic review of the academic literature related to transgender issues indicates that no previous extensive research has been presented which analyses contemporary gender divergent (trans*) people in Manchester. The incomplete academic knowledge on current transgenderism, particularly transvestic identities, has been recognised by representatives of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the UK Government Home Office. These deficient understandings comprise transphobic discriminations. Therefore, this thesis enhances academic information of contemporary transgenderism. This thesis includes findings and developed theories, deriving from aspects of Grounded Theory and Template Analysis, which reflect the deconstructive methodologies developed in postmodern theory. Postmodernism rejects the ‘grand narratives' of truth and science, with a greater emphasis upon the lived experience and expertise of those studied. The investigations undertaken for this study include a reflective/reflexive ethnographic analysis of the assistance to trans* people in Manchester by individuals and support organisations. Thirty-seven interviews with key informants were conducted. This thesis also deploys digital ethnography to examine Internet trans* supportive discourses, which either relate to or emerge from social circles linked to the Gay Village. Additionally, related quantitative information concerning trans* matters is re-presented which is drawn from 390,227 international online data inputs. Moreover, this study documents the annual transgender Sparkle celebrations in Manchester from 2005 to 2012, which attracts thousands of MTF transgender people (trans* women). The analysis is further sustained by critical explorations of transgender supportive political actions by agents of trans* organisations, the Manchester City Council and the UK national Government. The thesis employs a mix of methods and critical methodology. It challenges conceptual hierarchies in which the trans* person is low down the scale of social acceptance, and instead deconstructs contemporary ‘scientific knowledge’ to provide innovative insights into the actual experiences of present-day trans* identities. The research contributes to knowledge concerning transgenderism and highlights the potentially harmful impacts from inadequate medical, legal and academic recognitions of trans* people.

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