Queering gender : the life histories of gender counter-normative students at Stellenbosch University

Beukes, Almaz (2020-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In March 2016, members of The trans* Collective student activist group at the University of Cape Town brought to light the erasure of gender counter-normative students’ contributions to the success of the RhodesMustFall movement in 2015. Equally important, the Trans University Forum (TUF!) released a report in 2017 that compiled the experiences of gender counter-normative individuals at seven South African higher education institutions. The report evinced that universities are sites that marginalise and alienate gender counter-normative staff, students and workers. In this thesis, I explore the experiences of three gender counter-normative Stellenbosch University students as they navigate the university environment. I employ life history research to document the range and the richness of the students’ daily lived experiences. In contemplating the challenges that the students as gender counternormative individuals face, their resilience in negotiating these challenges become apparent. The students proactively resist the manifestations – and proponents – of the gender hegemony that endeavour to negate and invalidate their existence. The present research thus addresses the gap in scholarship that does not consider gender counter-normative individuals in higher education, especially within the South African context. The thesis also departs from past literature that has, whether deliberately or not, framed the lives of gender diverse individuals as altogether burdensome. Certain details of the students’ narratives affirm that the structural design and institutional culture of Stellenbosch University reinforces the marginalisation and alienation of gender diverse individuals. Drawing on queer theory, the thesis suggests tentative recommendations for how Stellenbosch University can work towards affirming gender diversity.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In Maart 2016 het lede van The trans* Collective studente-aktivis groep aan die Universiteit van Kaapstad dit aan die lig gebring dat gender teen-normatiewe studente se bydrae tot die sukses van die RhodesMustFall-beweging van 2015 heeltemal geïgnoreer was. Ewe belangrik het die Trans University Forum (TUF!) in 2017 ‘n verslag uitgereik wat die ervarings van gender teen-normatiewe individue by sewe Suid-Afrikaanse hoëronderwysinstellings saamgestel het. In die verslag blyk dit dat die universiteite hul gender teen-normatiewe personeel, studente en werknemers marginaliseer en vervreem. Die huidige tesis ondersoek die ervarings van drie gender teen-normatiewe Universiteit Stellenbosch studente soos hulle die universiteitsomgewing navigeer . Ek maak gebruik van lewensgeskiedenisnavorsing (life history research) om die omvang en rykheid van die studente se daaglikse lewenservarings te dokumenteer. ‘n Ondersoek van die uitdagings wat die studente as gender teen-normatiewe individue ervaar dui op hul veerkragtigheid met betrekking tot hoe hulle hierdie uitdagings onderhandel. Die studente weerstaan proaktief die manifestasies en voorstanders van die huidige gender hegomonie wat poog om hul bestaan te negeer en ongeldig te laat. Die huidige tesis spreek dus die leemte in navorsing aan wat nalaat om gender teennormatiewe individue binne die konteks van hoëronderwysinstellings in ag te neem. Dit is veral die geval binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Die tesis wyk ook af van bestaande literatuur wat, hetsy doelbewus al dan nie, die lewens van gender teennormatiewe individue as totaal en al neerdrukkend uitgebeeld het. Sekere besonderhede van die studente se vertellings bevestig dat die strukturele ontwerp en die institusionele kultuur van Universiteit Stellenbosch die marginalisering en vervreemding van gender diverse individue versterk. Met behulp van queer-teorie (queer theory) stel die tesis tentatiewe aanbevelings voor oor hoe Universiteit Stellenbosch te werk kan gaan om gender diversiteit te bevestig.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/108082
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