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I have attached the instructions and two assigned readings. You will read the readings and choose any 3 academic source (which you may think is relatable to the topic) from anywhere and relate this with the assigned readings.
Final project. I have attached the instructions and two assigned readings. You will read the readings and choose any 3 academic source (which you may think is relatable to the topic) from anywhere and
12 Embodying Transgender in Studies of Gender, Work, and Organization Torkild Thanem Stockholm University School of Business Some years ago I was in a meeting with a group of senior business school colleagues planning learning activities for the coming term’s seminars of an undergraduate course. One of the learning activities involved students doing a role play of a tel- evision panel discussion to engage with the issue of corporate social responsibility. While there were few restrictions governing the format of the role play, the profes- sor in charge of the course asserted: ‘But I don’t want them to get carried away and turn this into a drag show!’ While I don’t think he meant this in a derogator y man- ner, it was made obvious that the world of drag was utterly separate from the world of business, work, and organizations. And nor did I dare, back then, to question his reasoning or to mention my own cross-dressing. Introduction During the past couple of decades gender has become an established eld in the study of work and organization. While research in this eld tends to focus on the social aspects of gender in work organizations, recent studies have directed atten- tion at the bodily aspects of gender. Informed by poststructuralist (e.g. Foucault, 1977; 1979) and feminist theor y (e.g. Butler, 1990; 1993) in particular, research in this area has tended to focus on the gendered body as an object of discursive construction and disciplinar y control in work organizations. For instance, studies of aesthetic labour have problematized how organizations relate the work perform- ance of (primarily female) ser vice employees to an ability to smile, keep eye-contact, CH012.indd 191CH012.indd 191 2/10/11 4:23:29 PM2/10/11 4:23:29 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. 192 HANDBOOK OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION and maintain a certain body-shape (Hancock and Tyler, 2000). Similarly, studies of workplace culture have shown how the (primarily male) manager body is expected to work hard and play hard despite few hours of sleep (Holliday and Thompson, 2001). Much less attention has been directed at transgender embodiment, which cuts across the conventional distinction between female and male, femininity and masculinity. While transgender has attracted increasing interest amongst gender scholars in the wider social sciences and humanities, less than a handful of publica- tions have studied transgender in settings of work and organization. Departing from a critical review of transgender research in the social sciences, the humanities, and in studies of work and organization, this chapter therefore dis- cusses how transgender may be embodied in studies of gender, work, and organiza- tion. Part of this involves re ecting about my own transgender embodiment, and I argue that an embodied perspective is necessar y to understand (i) how transgender is expressed through bodily practices as well as through social practices, and (ii) how transgender people are subject to problems and opportunities in settings of work and organization. Not only do transgender people suffer discrimination and marginalization at work and in organizations because of our bodies. Our transgen- der bodies are also sites of work, organization, and consumption. Let me therefore begin by elaborating the signi cance of transgender embodiment in settings of work and organization. Transgender, Work, and Organization Despite a lack of robust statistics, the American Psychological Association (APA, 2009) argues that in Western countries ‘[a]s many as 2–3% of biological males engage in cross-dressing’ and that 1 in 10 000 biological males and 1 in 30 000 biological females are transsexual. In contrast, transgender activists and scholars argue that APA systematically underestimates the prevalence of transgender people, estimating instead that 1% of people in Western countries are transgender, that 5% of biological males engage in cross-dressing, and that 1 in 500 biological males are transsexual (see e.g. Conway, 2002; Olyslager and Conway, 2007). From this it would follow that at least 1 in 3000 biological females are transsexual. Whereas popular discourse often confuses various forms of transgender, the term was introduced by community activists in the early 1980s as an umbrella term to include all individuals who embody and express a gender identity which diverges from the binar y distinction that contemporar y Western societies tend to make between female and male. A transgender person is therefore someone whose gen- der identity does not correspond to the sexual identity that she or he is assigned at birth. As transgendering involves female-to-male (FTM) and male-to-female (MTF) transitioning as well as non-identi cation with a particular gender or sex, it includes transvestites, transsexuals, drag kings, drag queens, intersexuals, third genderists, genderqueers, and agenderists. Transgender people enjoy different statuses in different societies. Despite having a sacred ‘third sex’ status in certain premodern cultures, as the ‘two-spirit’ peo- ple in Native American culture (Herdt, 1993; see also Linstead and Pullen, 2006), CH012.indd 192CH012.indd 192 2/10/11 4:23:30 PM2/10/11 4:23:30 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. EMBODYING TRANSGENDER IN STUDIES OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION 193 the predominance of the two-sex model (Laqueur, 1990) means that transgender people are often subjected to stigmatization and marginalization in contemporar y Western societies. Although the tolerance for and status of transgender people may have increased in recent years (as a case in point, thirteen US states have recently made it illegal for employers to deny someone work based on their gender identity), tolerance itself is a typical liberal principle that may avoid open discrimi- nation but still leave people unwelcome. Moreover, transgender people are still subject to hate crimes, violence, harass- ment, and labour market discrimination. In a sur vey of the San Francisco transgen- der population, all participants reported some type of abuse and discrimination because of their gender identity or embodied gender presentation, including ver- bal abuse (FTMs 85%, MTFs 83%), employment discrimination (FTMs 57%, MTFs 46%), problems obtaining health care (FTMs 39%, MTFs 13%), physical abuse (FTMs 30%, MTFs 37%), and housing discrimination (FTMs 20%, MTFs 27%) (San Francisco Department of Public Health, 1999). A more recent sur vey of transgender people in San Francisco reported that ‘nearly 40% of respondents believe that they have been discriminated against when applying for work’, that ‘over 24% of people reported that they had been sexually harassed at work’, ‘nearly 19% of respond- ents have experienced trouble in advancing in their company or department’, that 18% of respondents have been red from a job due to gender identity discrimina- tion, and that 59% of respondents are living in poverty (Transgender Law Center, 2006: 3–5). And a sur vey of UK transsexuals reported that 33% of respondents were forced to leave work by their employer during or after transition (Whittle, 2002). Transgender people with successful careers in mainstream organizations there- fore often conceal their transgender identity at work, and people who do not con- ceal it tend to have problems nding work, keeping work, or being promoted at work. In many countries, persistent transphobia, that is, discrimination and abuse against transgender people, forces transgender people into prostitution, crime, and illegitimate forms of work to support themselves. Uncon rmed estimates sug- gest that 80% of all transgender people in the US have been incarcerated at least once during their lifetime. Paraphrasing C. Wright Mills (1959), it may therefore be argued that the stigmatization and marginalization of transgender people causes personal troubles for transgender individuals that constitute social problems for communities, organizations and societies. Perhaps I’ve been particularly fortunate in this respect. I’ve received more complimentar y than abusive remarks when going out dressed up, and I’ve never been physically abused when dressed up. Still, even though I don’t tr y to hide my transvestism at work (I’ve got long blond hair, I wear pearls even when in male drag, and many of my colleagues know I’m an MTF transvestite), I’ve never been dressed up at work, mostly out of worr y for how my colleagues and students might react. At the same time, transgender creates opportunities for work and organiza- tions. Thousands of people pursue part-time or full-time careers as drag queens or drag kings by harnessing their transgender identity and embodiment. RuPaul, for instance, departed from the scene of night club drag shows in the 1990s to become a recording artist, appear in motion pictures, be the cover girl for MAC Cosmetics, and host his own television show. And in addition to the numerous transgender CH012.indd 193CH012.indd 193 2/10/11 4:23:30 PM2/10/11 4:23:30 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. 194 HANDBOOK OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION support groups and community organizations that exist across the world, thousands of businesses and organizations explicitly cater for transgender clients and custom- ers by offering products and ser vices that are mobilized in the construction and expression of transgender embodiment: internet vendors selling wigs, fake beards, and high-heeled shoes in tall sizes, dressing ser vices for MTF transvestites, and med- ical clinics providing sexual reassignment therapy and surger y. Similarly, I don’t think I would have written this chapter had I not been transgender. As the making of gender, transgender, and embodiment is crucial to transgender people and to the transgender industr y, this is also a dominant issue in transgender research. Typically working from a constructionist approach, this research tends to investigate how transgender people make – and construct – female and male gen- der through social, cultural, linguistic, and discursive practices. Harold Gar nkel’s (1967) ethnomethodological work in sociology on passing and Judith Butler’s post- structuralist work in cultural studies on performativity are central in this context. Transgender in Social Science and Humanities Research Passing Gar nkel’s (1967) ethnomethodological study of the intersexual woman Agnes pioneered social science inquir y into transgender. According to Gar nkel Western societies tend to assume that one’s sex and gender is either male or female, that one’s gender corresponds to one’s sex, and that this is a biological and social fact that does not change over the course of a person’s life. The case of Agnes prob- lematizes this assumption. Agnes was born with male genitalia, developed breasts at the age of twelve, but was raised as a boy until the age of seventeen. At seventeen she decided to live full time as a woman and to seek sexual reassignment surger y. According to Gar nkel, this required Agnes to engage in ‘sexual passing’, that is, to achieve and secure her right to live as a member of the chosen sex while risking disclosure and ruin. For Agnes, sexual passing was a means rather than an end in itself, and achieving a feminine identity was more important than ‘ordinar y goals’ of getting an education, getting a job, developing an occupational career, and making and maintaining social, emotional, and romantic relationships. Arguing that Agnes looked, behaved, and talked in a ‘ladylike’ manner, with the skills, feelings, motives, and aspirations of a ‘natural, normal’ [sic] woman, Gar nkel focuses on the social and linguistic aspects of passing, that is, how Agnes mobilized tactics, strategies, and practices of speech and conduct to avoid disclosure of her secret that she was born a male, with male genitalia, and raised as a male. For instance, Agnes would avoid social relationships, particularly any association with gay men and transvestites. She would not talk about her childhood or about the bodily practices she mobilized to pass. She also would avoid people who could reveal her secret, preferring to spend time only with those lacking such knowledge. In general, she would plan ahead and picture a number of scenarios to remain incon- spicuous, not draw attention and minimize risk of disclosure and ruin. In order to do so successfully she developed a practice of ‘rehearsed carelessness’ – carefully CH012.indd 194CH012.indd 194 2/10/11 4:23:30 PM2/10/11 4:23:30 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. EMBODYING TRANSGENDER IN STUDIES OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION 195 rehearsing her speech and conduct but without giving the impression that it was carefully rehearsed. For Gar nkel, Agnes’ passing partly involves the playing of a game, with rules that require the optimizing of instrumental rationality to be played successfully. But unlike Goffman’s (1959) notion of impression management, passing is not wholly rationally calculative but precarious, and the stable routines of passing are accomplished by improvization. Agnes did not already know what was expected of her to pass in any and ever y situation. She did not, for instance, always know what answers to give in the inter views with Gar nkel prior to her sexual reassignment surger y, fearing that giving a ‘wrong’ answer would lead the doctors to remove her breasts instead of her penis. Gar nkel, then, goes some way in actualizing the connection between bodily and social practices in the construction of gender. But even though Gar nkel describes Agnes’ ever yday bodily problems and the bodily techniques she mobilizes to deal with them, his focus on the linguistic and social practices of passing has made the case more signi cant in highlighting how gender is socially constructed and understand- ing how social order is achieved through ever yday routines. As ethnomethodology is primarily concerned with how social order is produced through stable ever yday routines he turns Agnes into an ideal case that marginalizes the real problems she experiences as a transgender person (Schilt and Connell, 2007). This problem is to some extent mitigated in more recent research on passing. Combining a grounded theor y approach with social interactionism, Ekins (1997) investigates how MTF transvestites accomplish passing in a way which more clearly highlights how trans- vestites are embedded in empirical social worlds. And rather than viewing passing as a mere adjustment to the binar y sexual order, he argues that transgender people may both reproduce and change the social organization of sex and gender. Performativity More than two decades after Gar nkel’s case study of Agnes, through a study of MTF drag performers, Butler (1990) introduces the notion of gender construction as performativity rather than passing. Butler uses the example of poor black and Latina US drag queens from the documentar y lm Paris Is Burning. For Butler, drag highlights that gender is not naturally and unequivocally given, but linguistically, discursively, and socially constructed through the ‘ritualized repetition of norms’ (1993: x) and continuous performance of discrete ever yday practices of speech and conduct that make gender seem natural within a binar y heterosexual matrix. Like Gar nkel’s notion of passing, performativity involves a series of consistent manner- isms, postures, and intonations as well as the use of clothing, hairstyles, and make-up. However, Butler makes no reference to Gar nkel, and unlike Agnes who sought to conceal her intersexuality, most of the drag queens in Paris Is Burning perform a more excessive form of femininity which is meant to attract rather than avoid attention. This does not mean that Butler assumes that one can choose and change one’s gen- der from one day to the next. Rather, bodies are formed, constituted, and inscribed with sex and gender by processes that put normative constraints on what bodies should and should not do. Drawing on Althusser’s (1971) notion of interpellation and hailing, CH012.indd 195CH012.indd 195 2/10/11 4:23:31 PM2/10/11 4:23:31 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. 196 HANDBOOK OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION Butler argues that an individual’s performance as male or female is seen as successful insofar as one is recognized – and hailed – by other people as male or female. This is actualized in Paris Is Burning, as one of the main participants, Venus Extravaganza, who unlike most of the drag queens in the lm lives full time as a woman and supports her- self through prostitution, is murdered by one of her clients when he nds out that she has male genitalia. To Butler, the murder illustrates her theoretical point that performativity does not mean that material experiences such as pain, pleasure, illness, violence, life, and death are mere constructions, but that construction is what enables us to make sense of and live these experiences. As certain constructions make some bodies intelligible and liveable, they make other bodies unthinkable, abject, and unlivea- ble. This does not, however, imply a dualism between liveable and unliveable bodies, between our lived experiences and experiences that we have not had. Since dualism is itself part of intelligibility, Butler instead argues that unliveable bodies are part of ‘the excluded and illegible domain that haunts the former domain as the spectre of its own impossibility’ (1993: xi) – and threatens the possibility of (a stable) iden- tity. The challenge for Butler, then, is to rethink the domain of intelligibility in such a way that unthinkable and unliveable bodies are made thinkable and liveable. But consequently, bodies are effects of discourse, even in terms of the materiality that they live. And in order to rethink the domain of intelligibility, she argues that femi- nist inquir y should take bodily materiality as its research object. This ironically leads Butler to privilege discourse and marginalize bodily material- ity in general and the bodily materiality of transgender people in particular. Butler does not interpret the murder as a hate crime against a transgender person, but ‘elides Extravaganza’s transsexual status’ and views it as an example of men’s violence against women of colour (Namaste, 1996: 188). Hence, Butler’s feminist anti-racism gets in the way of an adequate interpretation of transgender relations, and both her discourse and her discursive view limit the extent to which unliveable bodies can become liveable by the extent to which unthinkable bodies can be made thinkable. Butler therefore ignores two things: (i) the actual lived conditions of painful and suffering bodies that many people would rather not think about (including those of many transgender sex workers), and (ii) the bodily materialities that are liveable and might indeed become lived despite our inability to conceive of them in thought. Unlike Gar nkel’s emphasis on passing, then, Butler’s notion of performativity acknowledges possibilities for change, suggesting that gender expression may be expanded beyond the binar y organization of sex and gender which still dominates contemporar y Western society. But like Gar nkel, she disembodies transgender from the concrete situations of transgender people, displacing their materiality (Prosser, 1998) and social context (Namaste, 2000), turning the real drag queens in Paris Is Burning into a metaphor for the performativity of gender as a whole (Schilt and Connell, 2007), and ignoring the ever yday experiences of transgender people (Namaste, 1996). More recent work on transgender informed by Butler has had mixed effects on resolving these problems. Halberstam’s (2005) queer theor y analysis of the mur- der of the FTM transgender person Brandon Teena may provide a case in point here. While Halberstam acknowledges that Brandon Teena was murdered because CH012.indd 196CH012.indd 196 2/10/11 4:23:31 PM2/10/11 4:23:31 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. EMBODYING TRANSGENDER IN STUDIES OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION 197 he was transgender, her focus is neither on the murder of Brandon Teena nor on hate crimes against transgender people. Instead, Halberstam undertakes a narrative analysis of how transgender activists used the murder politically in the pursuit of transgender rights. In contrast, Shapiro (2007) resolves some of the problems associated with Butler’s work on transgender by investigating how gender performativity is not just about public performance but embedded in ever yday life through a case study of the drag troupe and feminist political collective Disposable Boy Toys (DBT). By studying drag kings and drag queens both on and off stage, Shapiro explores how drag per- formance affects the performers themselves. The drag performance constituted a space to enact different femininities and masculinities, thereby enabling DBT mem- bers to imagine their ever yday gender differently. Further, Shapiro draws attention to the organizational aspects of DBT – its shared nances, decision-making, and leadership, and how it ser ved as an important community resource, providing peo- ple links to the transgender community and information about support ser vices as well as an ideological and organizational context for collective action. But while Shapiro provides detailed bodily descriptions of certain drag acts and certain DBT members, highlighting their uid identities and bodies, she provides no theorizing of transgender embodiment as such. And even though the DBT drag performance constitutes paid part-time work embedded in the context of social movement organ- izations, Shapiro provides no theorizing of work practices and limited theorizing of DBT as an organization. Transgender in Studies of Gender, Work, and Organization While transgender remains a marginalized topic in studies of work and organization, then, gender scholarship on transgender tends to evade issues of work and organi- zation. To date, only about a handful of publications have investigated transgender in relation to work and organization. This includes theoretical discussions about transgender and organization theor y (e.g. Brewis et al., 1997; Linstead and Pullen, 2006), and empirically founded work on transgender employees (Schilt, 2006; Schilt and Connell, 2007), most of which tends to take a constructionist perspective. Informed by Butler’s notion of performativity, Brewis et al. (1997) discuss how transgender – and particularly MTF transvestism – may challenge the binar y gen- der divide. On their view, transvestism is ‘a “hard form of transgression”’ whereby MTF transvestites adopt ‘an entirely female style of costume’ (ibid.: 1288). But as most transvestites construct gender without desiring ‘to become the other gender perma- nently’, transvestites challenge the binar y gender divide by travelling between gen- ders. This leads Brewis et al. to argue that as transvestism highlights the constructed nature of gender, it hints at the possibility for men and women to play with gen- der roles and challenge masculine dominance as well as the binar y gender divide in organizations. This has no doubt been important in introducing transgender to studies of gender, work, and organization. However, like Gar nkel and Butler, Brewis et al.’s metaphorical use of transgender de ects attention from the ever yday lives and embodiments of transgender people in settings of work and organization. CH012.indd 197CH012.indd 197 2/10/11 4:23:31 PM2/10/11 4:23:31 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. 198 HANDBOOK OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION Combining gendered organization theor y with intersectional analysis, Schilt (2006) investigates how the case of transmen makes workplace gender discrimina- tion visible. While transmen have the same skills, education, and abilities before and after transition, some respondents experienced new advantages at work after transition – advantages they did not have as women – and that they were being valued for being male. For instance, one respondent found that customers went more often to him for queries after he transitioned, and a number of transitioned respondents experienced that their views were more highly recognized in meetings and in interaction with co-workers and managers. Moreover, transitioned transmen experienced less sexual harassment, touching, groping, and sexualized comments, problems which they had experienced before transition when appearing as an ‘obvi- ous dyke’. However, tall, white transmen found more advantages than short transmen and transmen of colour. And transmen who were in the early stages of transition or who had not used hormones during transition did not experience these advantages because they did not pass as men or because they looked like young men. Asian and black transmen also did not experience these advantages – Asian transmen because they were viewed by whites as passive, and black transmen because they were viewed by whites as threatening. Hence, the change in how the same person is treated by co-workers after transition means that gender inequalities result from gender stereotypes that co-workers and employers rely on in evaluating the skills and performance of women and men. This is a signi cant contribution to the under- standing of workplace gender discrimination in general. But while Schilt pays attention to the bodily features of transmen and their social interaction with co- workers and employers, it risks turning the experience of transmen into a metaphor of workplace gender discrimination. Drawing on a combination of Butler’s work and symbolic interactionism (e.g. West and Zimmerman, 1987), Schilt and Connell (2007) investigate whether trans- gender people who remain in the same job make gender trouble and how they socially negotiate gender identity with their co-workers during gender transition or sex change. In this context, gender trouble refers to transgender activism and the explicit expression of transgender embodiment and identity which disrupts gender binaries and the ‘natural connection between genitals and gender identity’ (ibid.: 602). Before transition transwomen were expected to engage in conversations about cars and sports with their male colleagues while transmen were expected to participate in conversations about appearance, dress, hairstyles, and menstrua- tion. Conversely, after transition transmen were excluded from girl talk while male co-workers questioned the professional capacities of transwomen. For instance, one transwoman was forced out of a business partnership she had had with three men because they doubted her capacity to continue as a business partner, claiming that all she would be concerned with were ‘frivolities of appearance’ (ibid.: 606). While cross-gender interactions were quite problematic, same-gender interactions after transition were often quite inclusive. In one case, male colleagues signalled that they were positive to the transition of two transmen, asking ‘when they were going to start using the male locker room’. Similarly, a transwoman, despite some distance from female co-workers at rst, started to have lunch with them and was taken shopping by a female colleague. But even though some transgender CH012.indd 198CH012.indd 198 2/10/11 4:23:32 PM2/10/11 4:23:32 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. EMBODYING TRANSGENDER IN STUDIES OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION 199 employees sought to ‘adopt “alternative” femininities and masculinities’ to ght binar y and sexist gender stereotypes and sex and gender inequality there was little scope for gender trouble. Full-time transgender employees were enlisted into rituals which reinforce the gender binar y, and they went along with gender stereotypes in order to ‘keep social relationships smooth during transition’ and ‘retain steady and comfortable employment’ (ibid.: 605). Both studies suggest that transgender employees encounter opportunities, gain privileges and avoid trouble insofar as they pass as members of the opposite sex. But they also suggest that transgender embodiment as such remains problematic. Indeed, transgender only ceased to make trouble after transition, when it was no longer apparent or obvious, for transgender employees who passed as members of the opposite sex. These studies are therefore signi cant contributions to the understanding of the construction of transgender and the problems and oppor- tunities that transgender employees encounter in ever yday settings of work and organization, because of or despite our transgender. But despite drawing attention to the bodily practices of transgender employees, they assume that gender is socially constructed, under-theorize transgender embodiment, and give limited insight into the problems, opportunities and experiences that transgender people encounter because of our bodies. Towards an Embodied Approach to Transgender in Studies of Gender, Work, and Organization Although studies of work and organization in particular and the social sciences in general have a long histor y of neglecting issues of embodiment, a number of efforts have been made during the past decade to develop embodied approaches in the social sciences. An embodied approach to transgender may inform at least two pos- sible avenues of research: (i) a more micro-level study of transgender workers, man- agers, clients, and consumers, and (ii) a more macro-level study of organizations, institutions, industries, and elds that cater for transgender people. Both avenues may enable research on bodily practices of transgendering and (how this relates to) the problems and opportunities encountered by transgender people in settings of work and organization. While previous research has tended to study the body in a disembodied way and focus on the body as an object of discursive construction and disciplinar y control in work organizations, appeals for an embodied approach have argued that the body is an active subject and a medium of action, interaction, knowledge, emotion, and experience. In organization studies and in the broader social sciences these argu- ments have been informed by the work of Merleau-Ponty (see e.g. Williams and Bendelow, 1998a; 1998b; Dale, 2001). Challenging the mind–body dualism, Merleau- Ponty (1962) argues that the body is not a passive object of rational thought, social construction, and organization, but a matter of sensual, mindful, expressive, and lived embodiment. Our thoughts and emotions, habits and experiences, actions, and interactions are embodied, and the mind is an organ located in the body. It is through our bodies that we think, feel, sense and experience, express thoughts and CH012.indd 199CH012.indd 199 2/10/11 4:23:32 PM2/10/11 4:23:32 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. 200 HANDBOOK OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION feelings, create habits and meaning, and act and interact in meaningful ways. For Merleau-Ponty, then, it is our lived embodiment, which is at once routine, inten- tional, and creative, that enables us to relate to, enact and inhabit the world. Merleau-Ponty’s emphasis on lived embodiment suggests that future studies should not only investigate the social interaction of transgender people at work and in organizations, or the social construction of transgender in the institutional arrangements of organizations, industries, and elds. Rather, future studies need to investigate the lived embodiment and bodily experiences of transgender people at work and in organizations, and how this is affected by and affects institutional arrangements in organizations, industries, and elds. Micro-oriented research on work and organizations has started to investigate the lived embodiment of employees and managers – how gendered embodiment affects bodily feelings and experiences at work (e.g. Dale, 2001; Knights and Thanem, 2005) and how the body constitutes an active medium of management and organization which enables people to learn and create knowledge in organizations (Edenius and Yakhlef, 2007), commit to work with buzzing excitement, and make decisions based on their gut-feeling (Lennie, 2000). Future research may therefore want to investi- gate the bodily techniques and practices that transgender employees and managers mobilize in expressing – or hiding – our transgender, how our interactions with colleagues and clients affect and are affected by our expression or hiding of trans- gender embodiment, and the bodily feelings and experiences that are spurred as we express or hide our transgender and as we interact with others. Given Merleau-Ponty’s neglect of body politics and bodily difference, transgen- der research in studies of work and organization would bene t from combining Merleau-Ponty’s ideas with insights from feminism and queer theor y. This may help the area avoid reducing the diverse lived embodiments and experiences of trans- gender people to a generic kind of transgender embodiment and experience, and problematize the speci c bodily problems, opportunities, experiences, and expres- sions of different transgender groups and individuals, beyond the distinctions between MTF and FTM transgendering. It would be particularly fruitful to investi- gate how various forms of transgender embodiment intersect with other forms of bodily, socio-corporeal and socio-demographic difference, including sexuality, race, age, and (dis)ability. But rather than analysing transgender embodiment from the outside in a disem- bodied, male-stream, and heteronormative way, the emphasis on lived embodiment suggests that transgender research should itself be embodied. Extending Merleau- Ponty’s philosophy and feminist theor y, Williams and Bendelow (1998a; 1998b) have proposed an embodied research strategy for social science research on the body. It is not suf cient to assume that lived embodiment is ‘expressive’, ‘sensual’, or ‘mind- ful’ and involves ‘an active engagement with the world and an intimate connection with both culture and self’ (Williams and Bendelow, 1998b: xvi). As researchers we must re ect about and write our own lived embodiment and bodily experiences into our accounts of the bodies we study. This is a risky and precarious project which thus far has generated little following. As the body itself remains a marginalized research object, it seems even more dif cult to generate enthusiasm around a project that makes individual researchers particularly vulnerable. Still, this is the only way CH012.indd 200CH012.indd 200 2/10/11 4:23:32 PM2/10/11 4:23:32 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. EMBODYING TRANSGENDER IN STUDIES OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION 201 that studies of gender, work, and organization can become genuinely embodied, and this may be what it takes to convince our colleagues in the broader area of organiza- tion studies that bodies – and transgender embodiment – matter. In my own research I would therefore re ect about my own lived embodiment and experiences as an MTF transvestite: How do I feel when I’m dressed up, how do I relate to myself and to others, and how do they relate to me – as I take the dog for a walk, ride the bus, go to the supermarket, shop for make-up, women’s shoes and clothing, go out for a drink or a meal, socialize with other MTF transvestites, or inter view transvestites for research? And how do I relate to others when I’m not dressed up but when my trans- vestism still becomes apparent – when shopping for a wig, make-up or women’s shoes while in male drag, when presenting a transgender paper at a conference, or when talking about transgender issues with my colleagues or students? Wearing stereotypically feminine props such as make-up, women’s clothes and shoes, a wig or my own hair in a more feminine style, it is obvious that my transvestism is written on my body when I’m dressed up. But it also affects how I feel and how I relate to others. Going out dressed up makes me feel more vulnerable, sometimes ner vous, but it can also make me feel more con dent, energized, invigorated and excited. Either way, it makes me change my body language. My voice doesn’t necessarily go up a pitch, but it becomes less monotonous. I tr y to adjust my posture, stand up straight and occupy less space, tighten my shoulders, keep my legs together when sitting down, and reduce the space between my legs when standing up. These things even change when I’m not dressed up but in situations when my transgender is never- theless actualized. Shopping for a pair of tights or mascara when I’m not dressed up I still tr y to appear less masculine, speak more softly and keep my legs together. This rarely upsets people. I seem to upset others more, provoke more stares and comments, when I go about my ordinar y business in male drag – taking the tube, shopping for food, having a drink at a downtown pub. Even if I don’t pass as a woman when I tr y to dress up as one, at least then people know what I am – a tranny, an MTF transvestite and not a pre-op transsexual, not a butch lesbian, not an effeminate gay man. An embodied research strategy for the study of transgender embodiment may pose a bigger challenge for the typically macro-oriented study of institutional arrangements in organizations, industries, and elds. The majority of institution- alist research tends to study relations between organizations rather than relations between people in organizations (e.g. Powell and DiMaggio, 1991). Institutionalist studies of transgender embodiment may therefore be more likely to succeed if scholars extend and expand recent efforts to investigate how macro institutions are enacted on a micro level (e.g. Barley and Tolbert, 1997; Czarniawska, 2009), by peo- ple in settings of work and organizations. Future research may want to investigate how institutional arrangements (norms, cultures, and regulations) in the transgen- der industr y are produced, changed, and reproduced through an interaction of organizations, communities and individuals. One case in point is the transgender shoe industr y, that is, companies which manufacture and retail women’s style shoes in men’s sizes and men’s style shoes in women’s sizes: How is the transgender shoe industr y organized and why? What shoes does it manufacture and retail and why? How does this affect the bodily expression, feelings, and experiences of transgen- der people? And how is this affected by the lived embodiment, bodily feelings, and experiences of transgender people? CH012.indd 201CH012.indd 201 2/10/11 4:23:33 PM2/10/11 4:23:33 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. 202 HANDBOOK OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION Without having researched these issues yet, I’m continuously frustrated by the dif culty of nding women’s style shoes in a size 42 or 43 (EUR) in ordinar y shoe stores. Women’s style shoes in my size are primarily available from online specialist vendors which mainly stock over- priced garish styles with extreme stiletto heels. To tr y on a pair before buying is therefore not an option. And running in a pair like that is at best dif cult. Conclusion While these research questions emerge from my own transgender embodiment, they may have signi cant implications for the possibility of embodying transgender in studies of gender, work, and organization. Firstly, employing an embodied research strategy to investigate transgender embodiment may enable research on embodi- ment in general and transgender embodiment in particular to become genuinely embodied. Secondly, employing an embodied research strategy to investigate trans- gender embodiment in the transgender industr y would highlight the particular and general features of an under-researched industr y, extend previous efforts (of insti- tutionalist and non-institutionalist research) to bridge the gap between micro-level and macro-level research, and embody the understanding of institutional arrange- ments in organizations, industries, and elds. Thirdly, doing embodied research on transgender in institutional settings links transgender embodiment to the main- stream of organization studies. Despite risks of appropriation, this may help trans- gender research escape its marginalized position as an isolated sub- eld for just the committed few. Hence, it may advance our knowledge of bodily transgendering practices and our knowledge of the problems and opportunities that transgender people encounter in settings of work and organization – across different contexts and levels and analysis. Acknowledgements I am grateful for the incisive and helpful comments of David Knights. REFERENCES Althusser, L. (1971) ‘Ideology and ideological state apparatuses’ in Lenin and Philosophy and other Essays, trans. B. Brewster. London: New Left Books, 121–176. APA (2009) Answers to Your Questions About Transgender Individuals and Gender Identity. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Of ce of Public Communications. http://www.apa.org/topics/transgender.html#howprevalent (downloaded 9 October 2009). Barley, S.R., and Tolbert, P.S. (1997) Institutionalization and Structuration: Studying the Links between Action and Institution, Organization Studies, 18(1) 93–117. Brewis, J., Hampton, D., and Linstead, S. (1997) Unpacking Priscilla: Subjectivity and identity in the organization of gendered appearance, Human Relations, 50(10) 1275–1304. Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge. Butler, J. (1993) Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’. London: Routledge. CH012.indd 202CH012.indd 202 2/10/11 4:23:33 PM2/10/11 4:23:33 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. EMBODYING TRANSGENDER IN STUDIES OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION 203 Conway, L. (2002) How Frequently Does Transsexualism Occur? http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/peo- ple/conway/TS/TSprevalence.html (downloaded 9 October 2009). Czarniawska, B. (2009) ‘Emerging Institutions: Pyramids or Anthills?’ Organization Studies, 30(4) 423–441. Dale, K. (2001) Anatomising Embodiment & Organisation. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Edenius, M., and Yakhlef, A. (2007) Space, Vision and Organizational Learning: The Interplay of Incorporating and Inscribing Practices, Management Learning, 38(2) 193–210. Ekins, R. (1997) Male Femaling: A Grounded Theor y Approach to Cross-Dressing and Sex-Changing. London: Routledge. Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish. London: Allen Lane. Foucault, M. (1979) The Histor y of Sexuality Volume 1. London: Allen Lane. Gar nkel H. (1967) Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Goffman, E. (1959) The Presentation of Self in Ever yday Life. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books. Halberstam, J. (2005) In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York: NYU Press. Hancock, P., and Tyler, M. (2000) ‘“The look of love”: Gender and the organization of aes- thetics’ in J. Hassard, R. Holliday, and H. Willmott (eds), Body and Organization. London: Sage, 108–129. Herdt, G. (1994) Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and Histor y. New York: Zone Books Holliday, R., and Thompson, G. (2001) ‘A body of work’ in R. Holliday and J. Hassard (eds), Contested Bodies. London: Routledge, 117–133. Knights, D., and Thanem, T. (2005) ‘Embodying emotional labour’ in D. Morgan, B. Brandth, and E. Kvande (eds), Gender, Bodies and Work. Aldershot: Ashgate, 31–43. Laqueur, T. (1990) Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge MA: Har vard University Press. Lennie, I. (2000) ‘Embodying management’ in J. Hassard, R. Holliday, and H. Willmott (eds), Body and Organization. London: Sage, 130–146. Linstead, S., and Pullen, A. (2006) Gender as Multiplicity: Desire, Displacement, Difference and Dispersion, Human Relations, 59(9) 1287–1310. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962) Phenomenology of Perception, trans. C. Smith. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Mills, C.W. (1959) The Sociological Imagination. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Namaste, K. (1996) ‘Queer theor y’s erasure of transgender’ in B. Beemyn and M. Elianon (eds), Queer Studies: A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Anthology, New York: NYU Press, 183–203. Olyslager, F., and Conway, L. (2007) On the Calculation of the Prevalence of Transsexualism. Paper presented at the WPATH 20th International Symposium, Chicago, 6 September. Powell, W., and DiMaggio, P. (eds) (1991) The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Prosser, J. (1998) Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality. New York: Columbia University Press. San Francisco Department of Public Health (1999) The Transgender Community Health Project. San Francisco CA: University of California San Francisco. http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/ InSite?page cftg-02-02#S5.1X (downloaded 27 July 2009). Schilt, K. (2006) Just One of the Guys?: How Transmen Make Gender Visible at Work, Gender & Society, 20(4) 465–490. Schilt, K., and Connell, C. (2007) Do Workplace Gender Transitions Make Gender Trouble?, Gender, Work and Organization, 14(6) 597–618. Shapiro, E. (2007) Drag Kinging and the Transformation of Gender Identities, Gender & Society , 21(2) 250–271. CH012.indd 203CH012.indd 203 2/10/11 4:23:33 PM2/10/11 4:23:33 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved. 204 HANDBOOK OF GENDER, WORK, AND ORGANIZATION Transgender Law Center (2006) Good Jobs NOW! A Snapshot of the Economic Health of San Francisco’s Transgender Communities. San Francisco: San Francisco Bay Guardian. http://transgenderlawcenter.org/pdf/Good%20Jobs%20NOW%20report.pdf (downloaded 9 October 2009). West, C., and Zimmerman, D.H. (1987) Doing Gender, Gender & Society, 1(2) 125–151. Whittle, S. (2002) Employment Discrimination and Transsexual People. Report for the Gender Identity Research and Education Society. Ashtead, Surrey. Available at http:// www.gires.org.uk/Text_Assets/Employment_Disc_Full_Paper.pdf (downloaded 9 October 2009). Williams, S.J., and Bendelow, G. (1998a) The Lived Body: Sociological Themes, Embodied Issues. London: Routledge. Williams, S.J., and Bendelow, G. (1998b) ‘Introduction: Emotions in social life: Mapping the sociological terrain’ in G. Bendelow and S.J. Williams (eds), Emotions in Social Life: Critical Themes and Contemporar y Issues. London: Routledge, xv–xxx. CH012.indd 204CH012.indd 204 2/10/11 4:23:34 PM2/10/11 4:23:34 PMHandbook of Gender, Work and Organization, edited by Emma Jeanes, et al., John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=700660. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:33:34. Copyright © 2011. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Final project. I have attached the instructions and two assigned readings. You will read the readings and choose any 3 academic source (which you may think is relatable to the topic) from anywhere and
PART O N E September 8, 2014 We met in a tiny box-like classroom, but our conversations would eventually span provinces and flow through myriad spaces in an evolving current of learning and unlearning that was fluid and changing, and could not be contained. We were student and teacher, but that dyad was reversible and interchangeable and ever-shifting. The dialogue was a tentative trickle at first, but soon became a raging torrent of words as we started to recognize in one another kindred senses of place, heart, and undying curiosity. As Gemma began their tran- sition from female-identified to nonbinary, and undergraduate student to master of gender studies candidate, and I began my transition from instructor to supervisor, we realized that we were in uncharted waters: becoming friends, navigating gender together. From the beginning of the colonial period till its end (and beyond), female bodies symbolise the conquered land.—Ania Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism (129) Our first meeting occurred in an undergraduate class I was teaching on feminist post – colonial theory. As a fledgling female-identified academic, I was intent on being taken seriously without appearing overbearing, approachable but not a pushover. I’d read the statistics and studies that confirmed my fears that female-identified professors are less likely to be described as “brilliant” and more likely to be called “nice” by their students. Not to knock nice, I am all about nice, but in the world of academia, nice doesn’t translate into tenure. I am also conscious of my body as an instrument in this space. It cannot be denied; it cannot be erased; it is front and centre. And while it is a body with immense privilege (cis, white, slim, unmarked by visible scars or physical disability, youngish), it is a female body. I have no desire to be conquered or be seen as conquerable. So, as I’m performing my best balancing act, I enter the class and wonder what kind of impression I’m making. CHAPTER 7 Navigating Gender Together Gemma M. Hickey and Vicki S. Hallett TransNarratives.indd 81TransNarratives.indd 81 09/08/21 3:15 PM09/08/21 3:15 PM TransNarratives : Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, edited by Kristi Carter, and James Brunton, Canadian Scholars, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=6708064. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:36:24. Copyright © 2021. Canadian Scholars. All rights reserved. 82 SECTION II COM MUNITY AN D INTE RPERSONAL REL ATIONSHIPS Her cool demeanour awakened a boyish curiosity within me the moment she entered the classroom. My gaze latched on to the rhythm of her step as she patrolled the front of the room. She began the lecture by defining colonialism as the conquest and control of other people, their lands, and their goods. Seemed fitting given that I had my mind set on learn – ing the ways in which she herself could be conquered. But as time went on, I learned my lesson—what she really taught me was how to conquer myself. I had a lot to prove. My academic record was spotty at best. Like countless other Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, I was sexually abused by a member of the clergy when I was young. My case was settled outside of court and I felt removed from the entire process. My age situated me between a mother who declared that the settlement would be used for tuition and a law yer who insisted that the trial would be too traumatic. Although they had my best interests in mind, all I wanted was an opportunity to tell the priest that what he took from me could never be bought. The price I paid for trusting him was too high because it came at the cost of loving him so much. As an act of rebellion, I gave the money away and sabotaged my undergraduate courses. Compensating survivors is one way that the church and individual clergy can take responsibility for their actions, but it felt like blood money to me. Losing him—or rather the idea of him—wounded me deeply. Years later, after undergoing therapy to help me work through the sexual abuse I suffered, I decided to take my life back. Part of that process involved applying to graduate school, and as a veteran activist, gender studies seemed to be the best fit. In order to get accepted, however, I had to get an A in Postcolonialism—a course she happened to be teaching. She passed a sheet of paper around and invited us to write down our names and pro – noun preferences. When the sheet landed on my desk, I quickly scribbled she/her next to my name without even thinking twice—I was only ever taught to think once. Of course, as professors, we are also getting impressions of our students. My immediate take on Gemma was: aviator shades, wide, confident smile, and a fabulous haircut. I thought, “This is someone who knows who they are.” Older than the average student, Gemma was voluble, funny, and not afraid to ask difficult questions—just the kind of student I really ap – preciate having in class. I knew right away that they would do well in the class, and make it a positive atmosphere for other students as well. I handed out the pronoun sheet on the first day, asking those who felt comfortable to identify which gender pronouns they used, so that no one in class would be misgendered. I put my own name on the list and identified my traditionally feminine pronouns. Gemma wrote that they used she/her also, and that was the last I thought about it—for a while. September 10, 2014 Decolonization is not a metaphor. — Eve Tuck and Wayne K. Yang, “Decolonization” (1) One of the things I focus on in my postcolonial theory course is local experiences of col – onization. As a settler Newfoundlander, this means confronting my own privileges and TransNarratives.indd 82TransNarratives.indd 82 09/08/21 3:15 PM09/08/21 3:15 PM TransNarratives : Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, edited by Kristi Carter, and James Brunton, Canadian Scholars, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=6708064. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:36:24. Copyright © 2021. Canadian Scholars. All rights reserved. Chapter 7 Nav igating Gender Together 83 responsibilities head on and discussing the realities of continuing colonization and its differential impacts on everyone in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It often means confronting students with critiques of power structures that benefit many of them while oppressing some of them. It means understanding the university’s complicity in those oppressions. When these discussions arose in class, I could see that many of the stu – dents were visibly uncomfortable, others confused. Many wanted a definition of colonialism . Gemma didn’t need this definition but was anxious to talk about how Newfoundlanders view themselves and the pride that many of us feel in our identities. Her shoes were indigo—shoes that could be mistaken for boots. What distinguishes shoes from boots? I wondered. Can a shoe be a boot or a boot a shoe? And where do sandals fit within the footwear spectrum … outside of the obvious placement on the bottoms of one’s feet? I digress.… “If colonialism impacts all aspects of our being, how do we provide a full inquiry into our ability to question it?” she tests. Trusting the arch of her back to the oak desk lodged in the centre of the room, she chases her question down with a stiff quote from Audre Lorde: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” I forgot about her boots and found my own footing. September 15, 2014 Having grown up in the days of what’s often, loftily, called the Newfoundland renaissance of cultural production in the 1970s and 80s, Gemma and I both drew on a shared cultural memory of songs, stories, humour, and art that was focused on buoying up a sense of Newfoundland-ness steeped in traditions of storytelling, stoicism, and black humour. This cultural memory undergirds certain foundational ideas of the place as victim of colonial oppression, not perpetrator. We talked about this in the classroom, and later in my office. Both of us admitted to a deep pride in our identities and an attachment to place that was unshakeable. I told Gemma that I had reconciled that through understanding, perhaps we could hold the contradictory idea in our minds that Newfoundland and Labrador was both victim and oppressor at the same time, that settlers and Indigenous Peoples had shared histories and traditions, and also had very different experiences of identifying with those histories. We discussed whether we could, perhaps, as proud Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, be well equipped to help confront those histories and current realities and think about how to disrupt binary colonial narratives of us/them, savage/civilized, male/ female, and how to embrace a fluidity of thinking through and with decolonial processes. I confessed that as a settler I had doubts about my own role and ability to participate in decolonization but that I was committed to learning. Her arms folded into one another like the petals of a rose that had forgotten how to bloom. I sought to unravel her; to travel her thoughts like a winding road and release her wings. TransNarratives.indd 83TransNarratives.indd 83 09/08/21 3:15 PM09/08/21 3:15 PM TransNarratives : Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, edited by Kristi Carter, and James Brunton, Canadian Scholars, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=6708064. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:36:24. Copyright © 2021. Canadian Scholars. All rights reserved. 84 SECTION II COM MUNITY AN D INTE RPERSONAL REL ATIONSHIPS “Hegemony is a continual process because resistance to power is achieved through a combination of coercion and consent, that is, resistance to power impacts power,” she stated. My mind jumped backward, to a place I don’t typically go—my childhood. Growing up on a street full of boys, as the only girl I was often teased, beaten, and sexually violated. One day, even though I was still very little, my brain grew bigger and I decided to dress like a boy. I tied my long blonde hair up in a ponytail and stuck it out of the back of my favourite baseball cap, threw on a pair of baggy jeans that were worn out at the knees, took off my shirt, and paraded around the neighbourhood bare chested. And from that moment on, they left me alone. They treated me like an equal because I blended in, even though I was never meant to. I remember pulling my grandfather’s footstool into the bathroom, closing the door quickly, without making a sound and checking to make sure the lock was secure. Placing the stool in front of the small rectangular mirror situated above the sink, I proudly stood up to myself for the first time. I remember feeling good about the clothes I had on, which became my second, much more durable skin. At a very early age, my gender was positioned as something that got in the way. My mother wouldn’t let me play sports, even though I was athletically inclined. At the time, she believed that only boys did that, whereas girls should be more concerned with appear – ances. I hated when she’d make me put on a dress. Dresses prevented me from climbing trees, not to mention made me more accessible to the boys on the street. The bottom part of a dress, for example, when purposely placed over the face prevents someone from look – ing you directly in the eye while on top of you; it also triggers a feeling of suffocation. I liken it to drowning, except you’re still able to breathe, as much as you lack the will to continue to do so at that moment. I still have trouble breathing in small spaces. September 17, 2014 Wide-eyed, I watch her pace back and forth across the classroom, picking up speed with each new idea. Her aquamarine-coloured skirt collapses like a wave as she pauses abruptly to review her notes set out on the podium. It’s ironic that every girl I had a crush on in high school wore skirts and I hated wear – ing dresses. When I’d dream of girls back then, I imagined I was a boy. I didn’t want to be a lesbian because the church taught that homosexuality was a sin. “Anne McClintock offers critiques on postcolonial theory and refers to the danger and pitfalls of using binaries to view the world,” she asserts. As soon as class ends, I quickly collect myself along with my books in an attempt to beat my classmates in the race toward her. “Are you going to the Take Back the Night march?” I inquire. Hoping to impress her, I add, “I’m giving the keynote, and you’ve inspired my speech.” I immediately search her face in anticipation. Surprised, she smiles and nods her head in favour. Not giving her the chance to speak, I tell her I’ ll see her there and rush off, pretending to have another commitment. As if anything would be more appealing than listening to her. Her words and gestures were key—I could feel my mind open. TransNarratives.indd 84TransNarratives.indd 84 09/08/21 3:15 PM09/08/21 3:15 PM TransNarratives : Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, edited by Kristi Carter, and James Brunton, Canadian Scholars, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=6708064. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:36:24. Copyright © 2021. Canadian Scholars. All rights reserved. Chapter 7 Nav igating Gender Together 85 September 21, 2014 I paraded across the concrete platform as if I owned the place. I knew she was watching. I had spotted her during the march. “Hello, rebel rousers!” I hollered. “Are there any feminists in the H-O-U-S-E ?” The crowd roared. I took my place behind the podium and proceeded to address the hundreds of women gathered at the steps of City Hall. “I dedicate this speech to my professor, Dr. Vicki Hallett,” I stated. “This one’s for you, Doc. Hope I get an A.” She was in my classroom now. The theories of Audre Lorde and Michel Foucault in confluence with my grand – mother’s praxis were the foundation of my speech. For instance, we may not be able to use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house because institutions informed by the colonial encounter have constructed the societal embodiment of our individual identities. But we still have room to renovate using other tools—tools that were handed down to us by women like my grandmother. Women who, despite the strictures of gender, salvaged whatever supplies they could and built a life for themselves in spite of it all. “On top of the ashes, I’m the master of my own house and I like what I’ve built so far,” I concluded. After I was released from the assemblage of women, she was waiting with her arms outstretched. “A-plus,” she declared, her smile as wide as her arms. “Hope you feel that way when you grade my paper because it’s the same as my speech,” I said with a smirk. We laughed as we embraced and not long after went our separate ways. September 24, 2014 When class ended, she handed out our papers.“I marked the papers hard,” she warned. The softness of her manner as she called my name was like a summons to my heart. I panicked for a moment, but quickly remembered how she reacted after she heard the speech in an attempt to reassure myself. Not wanting to look at my paper in the classroom, I found a bench just outside of the science building and immediately skipped to the last page where her comments were written: C. This was an excellent speech, but in terms of your paper, I asked for five pages not four; four sources not three. You are obviously capable of digging deeper into this feminist analysis and I look forward to seeing you do so in your next paper. TransNarratives.indd 85TransNarratives.indd 85 09/08/21 3:15 PM09/08/21 3:15 PM TransNarratives : Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, edited by Kristi Carter, and James Brunton, Canadian Scholars, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=6708064. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:36:24. Copyright © 2021. Canadian Scholars. All rights reserved. 86 SECTION II COM MUNITY AN D INTE RPERSONAL REL ATIONSHIPS She broke through the surface. At that moment, all I felt like digging was my own grave, but instead of giving up, I dug into myself. I had no choice but to go deeper and no way of knowing what I would resurrect. By the end of the term, I had earned my A and started grad school the following semester. PART T WO On June 2, 2015, she was attending an academic conference in Ottawa while I was there to witness then–Member of Parliament (MP) Ryan Cleary table a private member’s bill that I helped draft for an Institutional Abuse Awareness Day. Like Newfoundland and Labrador, many provinces and Indigenous communities across the country have their own horror stories of abuse. I chose June 1 because it was the date that the doors at Mount Cashel Orphanage closed for good, and it was also the beginning of Aboriginal History Month in Canada. I invited her to join me at the House of Commons in the MP lounge to watch the reading of the bill. Once it was tabled, she accompanied Ryan Cleary and me downstairs to the press gallery, where I stood up and told the entire country about Pathways, an organization I founded for survivors of religious institutional abuse because a Roman Catholic priest sexually abused me when I was young. She was in the audience during the presser, and as I stood behind the podium, directly positioned in front of the Canadian flag, I focused on her instead of the cameras. And when I took my place on the platform this time, the only thing I owned was myself. Later that evening after a celebration with Ryan Cleary and his staff, we stood in the middle of Sparks Street and watched television coverage about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings on a television screen through the huge glass win – dow in the CBC Radio building. Arms weaved together, as women and islanders, our connection surpassed circumstance and could be traced along the lines of colonial oppres – sion. We couldn’t hear what the people being interviewed were saying, but their faces spoke volumes. As the country was shifting, I could feel myself shift, too. I was beginning to see things differently, and in doing so, saw her again for the very first time, even though tears blurred my eyes at that particular moment. I put my feelings for her to rest, and as her image faded from my waking dreams, there was more room for her words to take root instead. We had become more than student and teacher: we were friends. Gemma announced that they were off to walk across the island to bring awareness to the Pathways Foundation, which they had begun to help support other survivors of clergy sex – ual abuse. I was deeply impressed not only with the commitment to this immense physical task but with the continuous vulnerability that Gemma seemed to live inside, and communi – cate to others, while also appearing strong and able to support others. We gave each other copies of our work to read, and I wished them well on their journey. I followed Gemma’s progress in the media as they stopped to give interviews at various points along the way, TransNarratives.indd 86TransNarratives.indd 86 09/08/21 3:15 PM09/08/21 3:15 PM TransNarratives : Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, edited by Kristi Carter, and James Brunton, Canadian Scholars, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=6708064. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:36:24. Copyright © 2021. Canadian Scholars. All rights reserved. Chapter 7 Nav igating Gender Together 87 and then one day I received a phone call from Gemma on the road. They talked about how much pain they were in, the chafing, the blisters, but more so the emotional erosion from the continual onslaught of wave after wave of personal grief they were confronting while walking. Hearing the stories of other survivors, unmediated and raw, their pain commingling with Gemma’s own was threatening to inundate even their innermost stronghold. We talked about writing; we talked about pride; we talked about the state of Gemma’s thighs and the renewed and remembered trauma they felt there. A question was emerging for Gemma, and it was about their own body and how they wanted to see it and how they wanted it to be seen. I secretly wondered, and worried, how much more they could take. On July 2, 2015, in the beautiful little town of Port aux Basques, I began my walk across Newfoundland to raise funds and awareness for Pathways. It was a tight schedule com – bined with speeches and media interviews, not to mention the many supporters who wanted to meet me along the way. I walked 30 kilometres for 30 days, yet successfully ended my walk at the Mount Cashel Memorial in St. John’s on August 2. Vicki’s lectures stayed with me as I walked. I called her from the Trans-Canada Highway after seeing a Newfoundland flag at the end of someone’s drive. It stood on guard, keeping watch and waving at me as I passed. It made me reflect on my deep affec – tion for the island —which Vicki also shares, having been born and raised here —and also the relationship between my fierce identity as a Newfoundlander and the stark realization that I’m merely a settler here. The struggle with identity didn’t end there. On December 3, 2016, I had my first shot of testosterone. But don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story. You’ve heard it now. —Thomas King, The Truth about Stories (29) The fall came and Gemma recovered from the walk. Taking time off from school, they stayed in touch periodically. Then as the snow flew, they returned to the gender studies hallway and my graduate seminar on the gendered politics of life writing. The course, and its subject, asks a lot from the students. It asks them to think about what people’s life stor – ies do, how we interact with them, and our responsibilities as readers. We were all commit – ted to these responsibilities, even though I knew that many of us weren’t ready for what that means. I thought I was—after all, I’m the instructor, and this was my area of research. But then, I was gifted with a story that I wasn’t ready for, and I had to figure out what my responsibilities were in relation to it. Early on in the course, Gemma came into my office and told me they were starting testos – terone. As a cisgender woman I could not relate to this desire, nor to the underlying belief that this would be an affirmation of one’s true self. I had read trans theory, queer theory, and autobiographical narratives of trans folks. I knew enough to understand that I didn’t have to TransNarratives.indd 87TransNarratives.indd 87 09/08/21 3:15 PM09/08/21 3:15 PM TransNarratives : Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, edited by Kristi Carter, and James Brunton, Canadian Scholars, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=6708064. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:36:24. Copyright © 2021. Canadian Scholars. All rights reserved. 88 SECTION II COM MUNITY AN D INTE RPERSONAL REL ATIONSHIPS understand it, because it was not—at all—about me. And yet, by telling me, Gemma had made me part of the story, and I had to honour that, and honour Gemma’s need to talk about it. A little over a year later, on April 12, 2017, I applied for a new birth certificate at Vital Statistics to reflect my gender identity, which I came to realize was nonbinary. The media attention I received resulted in me receiving death threats and involving police, but as an activist with 20 years’ experience under my belt, I was prepared for whatever came my way. When my request was denied, I filed an application with my law yer at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland. This prompted the provincial government to change legislation in November 2017, and on December 14, 2017, I became the first person in Canada to receive a nonbinary birth certificate. The government amended legislation and incorpor – ated the recommendations listed in my affidavit. If a person is over 16 years of age, a physician’s note is no longer required to apply for a new birth certificate that reflects how they identify, and driver’s licences and health cards now include a third gender. This was a huge step forward, not only for the province but for the entire country. As the term progressed, the testosterone began to take effect. Gemma began to grow more body and facial hair, and the timbre of their voice began to deepen. This was welcome, but com – plicated. We discussed how people in their life were reacting to their changing appearance and voice. We talked about gendered scripts and how people react to what we perceive as gendered displays. Gender often governs how we think we need to behave with one another, and so while Gemma was feeing the need to change their behaviour so as not to appear intimidating, and I respected that a lot, I felt it was also important to reassure them that it was other people’s per – ceptions that also needed to be interrogated. For example, anger in female-identified folks is treated very differently than anger in male-identified folks. Was Gemma really more intimidat – ing in their anger, or were people simply reacting to their anger in new ways? Inevitably, the tide of the conversation turned to sexuality and how it gets defined in a heteropatriarchal society. As Gemma found that their desires were taking on new trajector – ies and joked that testosterone was making them into a “gay man,” we talked about how sexuality is a social construct, in the sense that the category of gay is based on static no- tions of binary gender and the application of those categories to individuals and the direc – tions of their desire. When that binary of gender is disrupted, then sexualities that depend on such categories are also disrupted. So, if someone is nonbinary, what sexual identity do they claim? What communities might they no longer have access to? How does this affect the politics of activism and belonging? We did not come up with any easy answers, but the questions helped us both think in more expansive ways about sexuality as a social con – struct, but also as complex flows of desire and self-love. Vicki taught me that we are settlers within our own bodies because of the institutions that have shaped us. My reclamation—a process of learning and in many ways unlearning, has just begun. I was assigned female at birth, abused as a female, and socialized as a female TransNarratives.indd 88TransNarratives.indd 88 09/08/21 3:15 PM09/08/21 3:15 PM TransNarratives : Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, edited by Kristi Carter, and James Brunton, Canadian Scholars, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=6708064. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:36:24. Copyright © 2021. Canadian Scholars. All rights reserved. Chapter 7 Nav igating Gender Together 89 for 38 years. I identify as nonbinary even though my outward appearance is masculine. Through Vicki, I realized that with male privilege comes additional responsibility, espe – cially now that I have more than one perspective. The theoretical and political task at hand, then, is not one of undoing gender. What is required is nothing short of undoing theory. —Viviane Namaste, “Undoing Theory” (28) These conversations inevitably drifted toward the theory of gender performativity. We dis – sected Judith Butler’s theory as we hashed out our attachments to ideas of femininity and masculinity. We talked about being raised Roman Catholic with gendered expectations and resisting those expectations —Gemma’s mom always wanted to dress them in frilly dresses, and they never wanted that! I remembered insisting on wearing a pink dress and a hat to my First Communion and sticking out like a pink thumb in a sea of miniature brides in white dresses. Not much of a rebellion, but I felt good doing it. We also talked about how feeling a certain way about oneself is personal, but at the same time connected to social norms. How we dress is an expression of our inner gender identity, but that dress is determined by social norms. Then, that, in turn, is interpreted by others as gendered. So, as we explored the notion of performativity together, we were able to open up ideas about how the embod – ied gender that gets presented to the world is a complex mix of inner feelings and outward communication. We floated ideas about mental, emotional, environmental, and physical confluences that are so important. We also raised Viviane Namaste’s critiques of Butler as ignoring trans folks’ lived, bodily experiences and labour. Thinking about safety brought a lot of difficult things to the surface for us. One of those was parenting. I am a mom, and when Gemma spoke about their mother’s struggles and how they felt about that, it was important for me as a parent. I thought about how I would feel if my kid, who I am raising as a boy, came to me and told me they did not feel like a boy. Thinking honestly about that made me reflect on Gemma’s mom’s struggle, and I sympa – thized with how difficult it is to watch your child go through hardship and face danger. As a parent, I want to protect my child, and sometimes maintaining some form of “normalcy” is how we try to do that. Fear for our kids is perhaps what motivates some parents’ resistance to gender variance in our kids—it is scary, and we know it will mean scary things potentially will happen to our kids. I was delighted at Vicki’s response after I asked her if she would be my graduate super – visor. I still have a lot to learn, but this is what I know for sure—I walked from one side of the island to the other side of myself. It may have taken me some time to arrive at that place, but the space I inhabit is the only body I can lay claim to as my own. The reciprocity between Gemma and me has helped us both live better in the spaces of gender. These spaces are fluid, overflowing with intertwining currents of race, culture, and TransNarratives.indd 89TransNarratives.indd 89 09/08/21 3:15 PM09/08/21 3:15 PM TransNarratives : Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, edited by Kristi Carter, and James Brunton, Canadian Scholars, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=6708064. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:36:24. Copyright © 2021. Canadian Scholars. All rights reserved. 90 SECTION II COM MUNITY AN D INTE RPERSONAL REL ATIONSHIPS sexuality (to name the most obvious), and we all live at their confluences. Learning how to think within and through them well has been a journey for both of us. Gemma has taught me how to be more aware of cisgender privilege and how that inflects my teaching, writ – ing, and parenting. Thinking through the ways we have talked and laughed about gender in multiple physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological spaces has allowed us to question heteropatriarchal, colonial binaries of gender in productive ways—not closing off questions with simple answers, but leaving the spaces and questions open, moving, and evolving. In this way, we are navigating gender together. WORKS CITED King, Thomas. The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative . Anansi, 2003. Loomba, Ania. Colonialism/Postcolonialism. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2005. Lorde, Audre. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” 1984. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches , Crossing, 2007, pp. 110 –14. McClintock, Anne. “The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term ‘Postcolonialism.’” Social Text vols. 31/32, 1992, pp. 84 –98. Namaste, Viviane. “Undoing Theory: The ‘Transgender Question’ and the Epistemic Violence of Anglo-American Feminist Theory.” Hypatia , vol. 24, no. 3, summer 2009, pp. 11–32. Tuck, Eve, and Wayne K. Yang. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society , vol. 1, no. 1, 2012, pp. 1–40. TransNarratives.indd 90TransNarratives.indd 90 09/08/21 3:15 PM09/08/21 3:15 PM TransNarratives : Scholarly and Creative Works on Transgender Experience, edited by Kristi Carter, and James Brunton, Canadian Scholars, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uwinnipeg/detail.action?docID=6708064. Created from uwinnipeg on 2023-03-26 07:36:24. Copyright © 2021. Canadian Scholars. All rights reserved.