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Becoming Identified: Narrative construction of gendered identity through the life course

Dickens, Emily (2019) Becoming Identified: Narrative construction of gendered identity through the life course. Leeds Beckett University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Gender presentation currently proves a controversial conceptualisation within society. Those considered transgender aspire to obtain the gender identity alterative to that associated with their birth sex. The participant, Kate, would be termed a trans-woman due to her male-to-female status. She struggled with her gender identity until she decided to fully transition. The present study explores Kate’s meaningful life-events through a series of photo-elicitation and semi-structured interviews. Insight was gleaned surrounding acceptance, discrimination and medical intervention. Kate’s voice was analysed using narrative analytic methods. Three overarching themes were identified: identification as a woman, aesthetic perfection, and socioeconomic status. Such themes, and how they manifested in terms of tones and imagery, appear to have enabled Kate to construct her identity, whilst also proposing barriers to the external replication of it. The barriers relate to a fixation upon anatomic sex, class disadvantage, and the wait for surgical intervention. Little is known within gender research surrounding low-status marginalised groups, requiring further insight into class relations. Findings of this research therefore call for revision within feminist research to adopt an intersectional stance towards those who identify as transgender; understanding pressures upon trans-women to replicate feminine characteristics is likely to alleviate prejudice towards the marginalised cohort.

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