Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN33_04b: Trans/sexualities and Intimate Relations.
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Ana Vidu, University of Deusto
Location: BS.3.15
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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Making Sense Of Gender Transgressions In Transgender And Nonbinary Lives And Discourses

Sara Merlini

Social Sciences Institute – Lisbon University (ICS – ULisboa), Portugal

The concept of gender transgression has been used to name processes of gender change and innovation. Contrary to the classical concept of «deviance», the study of transgression allows us to understand the union of opposites and the processes of redefining the dividing lines of gender systems and practices. Transgressing the gender binary opposition has not only been possible as transgressions coexist with restrictive and punitive limits that reify gender from the antagonist logic. Normative non-compliance is transversal (Pearce and Connell, 2016) but there are different costs in the transposition of the gender belongings and positions.

Through a gender practices perspective we propose a definition and theorization model of gender transgressions and normative (re)productions. We demonstrate its utility through a practical application to the study of transgender and non-binary lives and discourses. Our results are based on the biographical study of 19 non-binary gender trajectories and the analysis of a digital archive Nonbinary wiki (

By identifying normative traditions of gender we open a collective dialogue about its meanings and values. The importance of gender is seen by its consequence. In the possibilities of being accepted and recognizable. The differences between «gender itself» and «gender for the self» can be understood within social processes of attribution, appropriation and interpretation which translate into variable degrees of (in)visibility in alternative gender performances and narratives. Recognizing the existence of other conventions and values in gender contributes to its inclusion and to a better understanding of the mitigating factors in (re)doing gender (West and Zimmerman, 2009).

Physical Transitions, Embodiments and Gender Discourses: Trans Youth in Portugal

Ana Cristina Marques1,2, Ana Patrícia Hilário1

1Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa; 2University of Kurdistan Hewler, Iraqi Kurdistan

While some materials have been written on how trans people have come to terms with their gender identity in Portugal and how they make sense of the diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria, there has been little attempt to understand the experiences of trans youth in the country. Drawing upon data from the TRANSRIGHTS project, the study intends to fill this gap by understanding how trans youth in Portugal define their identities and legitimate their bodies in their everyday lives. The findings that we present here are based on 12 in-depth interviews carried out with trans and gender diverse young adults (six assigned male at birth and 6 assigned female at birth), aged between 18 and 29 years old, living in Portugal; mainly in urban centres. Similarly to what other research has shown, in the context of a highly gender-binary society, several Portuguese young trans and gender diverse people try to protect themselves against discrimination, harassment and abuse by using more gender-binary expressions, especially in cis-heteronormative dominated public spaces, and/or by undergoing some kind of physical transformations that is medically supervised. Thus, it is only a minority of the participants that is able to express a more non-binary, gender diverse expression. We also situate our study in the context of the increasing research on trans and gender diverse youth. We believe that by showing the diversity of the participants’ discourses, practices and embodiments of gender, and their different positions in relation to gender identity we present here, we critically contribute to the Sociological and Transgender literature and the debates its generates.

Swiping for Intimacy: Modern Courtship and Sexual Expectations on the Dating App "Tinder"

Jenny Cornelia Schnaller

Technical University Munich, Germany

The mobile dating application Tinder is one of the most prominent dating apps, especially regarding the mainstream heterosexual market. With an estimated 50 million users worldwide, the popularity of the app opens it up to many questions from scholars, with respect to modern courtship and sexual activity. Does, for example, the constant suggestion of available intimacy on Tinder make finding love any easier? Or does the seemingly never-ending pool of potential partners lead to uncertainty and indecision, and become a perceived threat to monogamy?

Presenting results of interviews conducted with 25 Tinder users in Munich, Germany, this study examines how gender and sexuality intersects with digital culture. Specifically, this research explores the experiences of the users in order to assess the extent to which a digital transformation of intimacy might be under way. It examines whether users feel that Tinder has influenced and impacted their views on love, dating, monogamy and other romantic ideals.

As Tinder is often described as a “hookup app” – especially in public discourse - one focus of the study lies on how user’s sexual expectations are affecting their (potential) sexual interactions and boundaries when meeting a ‘match’ in so called real life. This is particularly interesting as highly gendered sexual scripts are being emphasized within and through the technologically mediated environment. The interviews highlight the different experiences of men and women when engaging in sexual activities with their Tinder match, even when they didn’t actually want to sleep with that person.

Temporality and Transformation: Nonmonosexual Use of Language and Identity over Time

Rosie Beth Nelson

University of Bristol, United Kingdom

Nonmonosexuals – those romantically or sexually attracted to more than one gender, including bisexuals, pansexuals, and queer people – are undertheorised and underresearched despite the significant incidences of suicidality, depression, and domestic and sexual violence amongst the population.

These issues led to the development of a PhD project looking at how nonmonosexuals maintain their sexual and gender identities in a heteronormative, homonormative, and cisnormative environment. This particular paper explores the question ‘how have nonmonosexuals understood, experienced, and transformed their identities over time? Influenced by queer theory, I analyse 40 semi-structured interviews with diverse British-based nonmonosexuals.

Findings demonstrate that participants changed their identity labels over time - based on relational and contextual elements - to best represent their sexualities and genders. Participants learned new terms to frame their experience which impacted on how they located themselves socially. Furthermore, participants grew used to navigating and, later, disregarding discrimination as they aged. They achieved this ability to navigate and disregard discrimination through working in isolation to validate their own identities in a hostile society, or through finding LGBT role models.

This research contributes to a better understanding of how nonmonosexuals navigate a hostile, monosexist social world and emphasises the work required by sexual minorities to validate one’s identity. This research contributes to a wider understanding of sexuality and gender through using a nonmonosexual lens to explore the fluidity and temporality of identities. Driven from a nonmonosexual standpoint, this research troubles binary divisions of sexuality and gender, and questions the usage of labels in society.

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