In Transition: Analyzing Shifting and Competing Anglophone Discourses Impacting Canadian Trans People
Hitomi, Maaya Kuri 1988-
Medical, community, and academic discourses offer competing interpretations of sex, gender, and the complexities of trans experiences, with variable attention to trans contributions to social and political thought and practice. Existing research shows that academic, medical, and psychological discourses continue to use pathologizing approaches and often misgender trans people (Ansara & Hegarty, 2011), with predictably negative impacts on trans people and communities (McNeil, Bailey, Ellis, Morton, & Regan, 2012). Using Critical Discourse Analysis and working from a stance that is critical of institutional complicities with dominating forms of power, this thesis explores the implications of medical, community, and academic discourses about trans people. In the interests of richly contextualized analysis, I have chosen to ground my discussions of selected discourses within a historical context, attending to the lived impacts on trans people and communities, and to the importance of evaluating ethical practices used in treating and researching them, through the inclusion of auto-ethnographic reflections on my own experiences. The majority of medical discourse sampled pathologizes trans experiences, defining trans people as abnormal and describing sex, gender, and sexuality as interconnected binaries. Transsexual separatist communities mirror this discourse in numerous ways, modifying medicalized categories to define their own transsexual identities as normal and all other trans identities as abnormal. Trans activists challenge both discourses, incorporating aspects of social justice thought and affirming diversities of perspective and experience. The thesis concludes with a review of participatory research projects representing a tentative step forward for researchers, trans people and communities by incorporating trans discourses within scientific approaches. These projects break with some of the ethical problems informing past psycho/medical inquiry and offer a glimpse at what trans-positive science might look like. Recommendations to realise this potential and recast academics as allies to minoritized communities are offered.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeMcMullen, Linda; Teucher, Ulrich; Meyers, Mark; Lawson, Karen
Copyright DateJune 2018