Making Space: Disorientating bodies in trans and queer spaces of support
Thesis DisciplineGender Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis explores young people’s transgenderings through negotiations of language, bodies and experiences of different peer and community-based support spaces in Aotearoa New Zealand. It critically examines what ‘support’ means for young people in relation to developing subjectivities and embodiments shaped by being both young and transgender/ gender non-conforming. While these perspectives are varied, I argue that the production of community and peer-based support for those who are both young and transgender or gender non-conforming has been undergoing a period of significant change, reflecting queer and postmodern shifts which have worked to re-conceptualise the ways queer and transgender communities and peers are imagined, incorporating a greater inclusive focus on diversity. Utilising Sara Ahmed’s concept of queer phenomenology and post-structuralist theory, the thesis thinks beyond binary approaches to gender and support, to consider support and gender non-conformity through the process of ‘disorientation’. Throughout this project both ‘gender’ and ‘support’ are positioned as being subjective, embodied and discursive knowledges and actions, represented in multiple and contradictory ideas, identities and expressions of the different participants. The study utilises in-depth qualitative interviews with participants who are young people (aged 16-30 years) and support providers and developers of transgender/queer based support in Aotearoa New Zealand. Working with young people and support providers, this research provides an analysis of support development for transgender and gender non-conforming young people in Aotearoa New Zealand, arguing that all participants in support (both providers and recipients) are shaping its provision.