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"I am I": Self-constructed transgender identities in internet-mediated forum communication

Webster, L (2019) "I am I": Self-constructed transgender identities in internet-mediated forum communication. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2019 (256). pp. 129-146. ISSN 0165-2516

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Abstract

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston 2019. This article analyses identity constructions and representations of self-identifying transgender individuals on a web-based forum. Although the forum is aimed towards all transgender users, the primary user-group are transfeminine users (intending on) undergoing medico-surgical interventions to align their physiology and identity. The data for this analysis are initial text posts from the forum board used for introductions (i.e. new users of the forum introducing themselves). The article assumes that introductions are the context in which one asserts key identity features; hence, this board is the most pertinent for analysing identity construction. In this article, I use a combination of corpus linguistics and Critical Discourse Studies tools to analyse the use of pronouns and gender-indexical nouns in identity constructions and the representation of social categorisations. This article is an attempt to demonstrate that transgender is not a collective homogeneous identity, and that gender-sex incongruence may not be a salient identity feature for some forum-users. I also examine the ideologies (re)produced in the local forum-communication discourse, and the evaluation of hegemonic practices within transgender discourse and wider gender discourse to further demonstrate the heterogeneity of transgender identity.

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