“I would say: You Are not Transgender but Part of it!” A Qualitative Study Tracing Practices of Gendered Self-Reflective Positioning and their Negotiation
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This research traces positive entry points of how its participants build standpoints and live sex/gender in ways that challenge their own perceptions of gender and strive to create space for multiplicity, ambivalence and gendered difference within their own and others' lives. It does so by asking how gendered markers of identity and difference are experienced, understood and negotiated, rather than taking the experiences connected to one particular identity category as a focal point. I conducted interviews with ten participants who relate to the notion of drag in their lives and are connected to trans*/feminist/queer communities in and around Utrecht, the Netherlands, and Berlin, Germany. The participants identified across a multiplicity of gendered notions. One participant for instance was considering whether 'feminine man' is possibly a label he can be comfortable with, another identified as a hard femme drag queen, one described himself as a trans*guy, one as a woman, but framing being a woman differently than a lot of people do. Transgender studies is the key point of orientation for this thesis. I work with mainly transgender theory, theories on drag and theories on gendered/sexual differences. I approach the interviews as well as the theories as narratives on (trans)gender, sex, embodiment and difference and trace how they resonate, link and differ. The objective of this thesis is to highlight resemblances and contingencies across different (trans)gendered forms of embodiment by, for instance analysing points of connection between the participants' narratives and concepts such as the body image as theorised in transgender theory. Taking drag as a lens highlights moments of change, experimentation with and the rebuilding of participants' gendered embodiment and their relationship to it. This research points out that how participants self-position themselves with regard to gender, sexuality and other markers of difference is decisive and exemplary as to how power relations are negotiated.