Troubling the line : exploring the discursive construction of trans masculinity

Monakali, Esethu (2020-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis is an exploratory study that looks into the discursive construction of trans masculinity. The data for this study emanates from semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with seven self-identified trans masculine individuals who live in Cape Town, South Africa. Two methods of data analysis were used; within-case and cross-case analysis and Foucauldian discourse analysis. The analysis showed three dominant discourses that trans masculine individuals cite to construct and understand their gender: the discourse of ‘gender-specific bodies’; medical transitioning discourse; and counter patriarchal masculinities discourse. The study therefore shows how trans masculine individuals cite competing and dominant discourses to construct masculine subject positions that affirm and validate their masculinity. The findings demonstrate that drawing from dominant discourses of gender allows trans masculine individuals to simultaneously source normative ideas of masculinity while troubling the very assumptions of those knowledges. In addition, the study shows how dominant discourse of masculinity constrict and limit the liveability of trans masculine subjectivity and how trans masculinity is negotiated at the limits of patriarchal contours of masculinity. Further, drawing from experiences of being socialised into cisheteropatriarchal gender norms the participants in this study reject stereotypical configurations of masculinity and create masculine subject positions that are cognisant of the hierarchical and relational construction of gender. To this end, I argue that trans masculinity is constructed through multiple discourses that shape different and complex modes of masculine embodiment and reveals the fluidity of gender identity and expression.


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