On passing – que(e)r(y)ing the appropriation of (cis)gender aesthetics by transgender women

Ryklief, Elana Leah (2021-03)

Thesis

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Making use of personal memories and the narratives of transgender women of colour, this thesis explores the circumstances, dilemmas and challenges we face in relation to our gender (re)presentation and passing in society. Passing, although detrimental to transgender women and their community, exists socially as a rite of passage to womanhood, that creates tension between wanting to belong to it and arguing for a differentiated experience. This detriment is in the form of unequal access to resources and treatment, in/external community stressors and fluctuating in its requirements. In this thesis I will focus on the highly controversial and contested lives of transgender women of colour in Cape Town to increase research and highlight the multi-perspectival nature of our narratives. These narratives, from such a marginalised group, will highlight an alternative local experience that is undervalued and often not documented. Through this lens I engage with my own personal traumas and cultural ideologies that have influenced my womanhood and representation. In this thesis, the use of memory, authors, cinematic quotes, song titles and artists as well as poetry, gives a unique perspective on the creation of the self. Janet Mock’s Surpassing Certainty, 2017, was the main inspiration for exploring passing and womanhood, in combination with Jenni Livingston’s Paris is Burning, 1991, and Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals, POSE, 2018. Through these resources I re-write and read the narratives and position of transgender women in society. I switch between creative and academic writing echoing the merging of non- conformity and conformity to create successful (re)presentation of passing. Conducting interviews aided in exploring and elucidating the intersectional ways in which passing affects transgender women. The qualitative approach is in line with the structure and style of this thesis. Focus is placed on questions of access to medical, psychological, and legal services in society. This thesis is also an attempt to reteach people and society how to think about and react to transgender women.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Deur gebruik te maak van persoonlike herinneringe en die verhale van transgender vroue van kleur, verken ek die omstandighede, dilemmas en uitdagings wat ons in die gesig staar in verhouding tot ons gender-uitdrukking (of gender-(uit)beelding) en hoe ons ‘pass’ in die samelewing. ‘Passing’, alhoewel dit transgender vroue en hul gemeenskap benadeel, bestaan dit sosiaal as 'n oorgangsritueel na vrouwees, wat spanning skep tussen die wil daarvan en om te argumenteer vir 'n gedifferensieerde ervaring. In hierdie verhandeling fokus ek op die uiters kontroversiële en betwiste lewens van transgender vroue van kleur in Kaapstad en die wêreld, om enersyds bestaande navorsing te verruim en andersyds die veelvuldige perspektiewe oor die aard van ons verhale te belig. Die verhale van só 'n gemarginaliseerde groep sal 'n alternatiewe plaaslike ervaring op die voorgrond plaas, wat andersins nie genoegsaam waardeur en gedokumenteer word nie. Op dié wyse betrek ek my eie persoonlike traumas en die kulturele ideologieë wat my vrouwees en uitdrukking/uitbeelding beïnvloed het. Deur gebruik te maak van herinneringe, outeurs en filmaanhalings, titels van liedjies en kunstenaars sowel as poësie, word hier 'n unieke perspektief op die skepping van die self aangebied. Janet Mock se Surpassing Certainty (2017) dien as vertrekpunt om ‘passing’ en vrouwees te verken. Dít word gedoen in kombinasie met Jenni Livingstone se Paris is Burning (1991) en Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk en Steven Canals se POSE (2018). Aan die hand van die voorgenome bronne, herskryf en (her)lees ek die verhale/narratiewe en posisionering van transgender vroue in die samelewing Dit kan gesien word aan die hibriede styl van die proefskrif. Hier word die kreatiewe en akademiese skryfwyse afwisselend aangewend, wat ruimte laat om aan te voer vir die vereniging van konformiteit en nie-konformiteit, ten einde suksesvolle verteenwoordiging te bewerkstellig. Die onderhoude was ’n waardevolle hulpmiddel om die interseksionele wyses waarop ‘passing’ transgender vroue raak, te verken en te belig. Die kwalitatiewe benadering sluit aan by die struktuur en styl van die verhandeling. Die fokus val hier op voorreg en die nadeel van ‘passing’ met verwysing na toegang tot mediese, sielkundige en regsdienste in die samelewing. Hierdie verhandeling is ook 'n poging om mense en die samelewing op te voed oor hoe om met transgender vroue om te gaan.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/110559
This item appears in the following collections: