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Session Overview
RN33_01b_P: Gender Diversity
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Arda Umut Saygın, Gazi University
Session Chair: Milica Antić Gaber, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts
Location: PE.1.39
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: E, Level: 1.

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(Re) Making gender in the clinical context: a look into how gender ideologies shape the medical construction of Gender Dysphoria

Ana Patrícia Hilário

Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

There is a paucity of research in Portugal and elsewhere on how medical and psychological practitioners construct sex and gender in the diagnostic process of Gender Dysphoria (GD) and the extent to which this constrains the attribution of GD diagnosis. The aim of this paper is to overcome this gap by exploring the ways in which gender ideologies shape the medical construction of GD in Portugal. The TRANSRIGHTS team carried out in-depth interviews with 12 medical and psychological practitioners. Whilst there are some practitioners who base their assumptions regarding the diagnostic process of GD on an essentialist model of sex and gender and privileges ‘authentic’ Trans identities over others, there is a significant number of practitioners who understand gender as a social construction and are more flexible in the attribution of GD diagnosis. The findings reveal a path towards the acceptability by medical and psychological practitioners of gender variance and a greater openness to gender self-determination in the attribution of GD diagnosis.

The construction of gender diverse identities

Sara Merlini

Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal

In this presentation we tackle how gender diverse identities are constructed in/by interactions. By gender diverse identities we mean those individuals who do not fit exclusively in the categories of “Man” or “Woman”, namely non-binary, androgyny, cross-dressers, genderqueer and other gender identities. Being different from “Man” or “Woman” potentially challenge gender conventions and norms (Goffman, 1988; West and Zimmerman, 2009), for instance, in the disconnection between name-identity-gender or the use of different gender features in self-presentation (like a beard and lipstick or an androgynous clothing).

Based on a preliminary analysis of twelve biographic interviews with individuals who identify as gender diverse – a Portuguese sub-sample collected in the framework of the ERC funded project TRANSRIGHTS ( – we seek to understand how gender identities are negotiated and performed situationally. Drawing up from a biographic analysis we will focus on personal narratives, linguistic features, style and embodied performance. These are dimensions that highlight how the gender diverse identities are constructed and the possibilities for being different from exclusively “man” or “woman”. Among the repertoires found in the performance of gender diverse identities are the search for denial, exaggeration or reconversion of elements that are stereotypically associated to be exclusively male or female.

Transvestite Fetishism into Lines of Flight, or, Man Becoming-woman

Ciara Cremin

University of Auckland, New Zealand

In July 2015 I came to work for the first time dressed in women’s clothes and have been dressing this way ever since. Wearing them, however, did not make me a woman. As Deleuze and Guattari may have put it, you do not become a woman through mimicry, but by presenting as a woman, if it is done with enough feeling, with enough necessity and composition, in other words, not for fun or any other stupid alibi, you emit particles of a molecular woman. Developing from my personal experiences, observations and reflections since dressing openly in women’s clothes, I describe through Deleuze and Guattari’s work how what began as a fetish became the means to cut a line of flight from the molar man.

The question, however, that motivates this presentation is why in a society in which men and woman can more or less dress as they please, is it so rare for men to introduce into their attire any aesthetic element whatsoever that symbolically connotes woman? It is a question that alights on the unequal relationships between men and women in patriarchal-capitalism and how at a molecular level we are invested in them.

True-trans or gender queer? An analysis of transnational transgender identity claims

Anna Kłonkowska1, Stephanie Bonvissuto2

1University of Gdansk, Poland; 2Stony Brook University, USA

The presentation is to address the opposing standpoints on transgender identity represented by essentialist medical discourse and queer theory inspired social-constructionist approach. The traditional medical-approach transgender model that understands gender identity as an amalgamative origin of biological and psychological traits and transition as a process of stabilization has been countered by a queer poststructuralist standpoint that argues for transition to be considered as an open-ended deconstructive project meant to challenge prior gender categories.

The medical approach that once exclusively defined the transgender experience has been criticized by queer theory and the social constructionist approach for fostering a gender identity and concurrent essentialist ideology that is narrow in its binary perception of gender identities and pathologizes transgender. Instead, the queer theory and social constructionist-approach creates space for transgender and gender non-conforming identities and bodies that do not fit the rigid frames of a “true transsexual” category; embrace gender as raised within and through the social domain, potentially non-binary and fluid; considers the enforced character of the “true transsexual” as conforming to a heteronormative dichotomy.

In promoting their definitions as universal both factions have created a dialectic of formative identity claims and subsequent adversarial ideologies. To better examine the resulting tensions and influences, this research utilizes qualitative research carried out in Poland, in addition to a cultural analysis of the current transgender subgroups in a more international arena. Findings suggest a needed sustainable community model that would recognize the widest diversity of variant gender identities by productively encompassing both subdivisions.

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