An Analysis of the Representation of Female-to-Male Trans Individuals in Post-90s Literature
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This dissertation examines the representation of female-to-male (FtM) trans individuals within six key texts. 'Trans' is 'a broad umbrella adjective intended to capture the multiple forms of sex and gender crossing and mixing' (Heyes, 2003, p.1093). Despite increasing social awareness trans individuals have rarely been analysed within literature, and even less commonly from a trans perspective. Initially trans politics and studies 'emerged in the early 1990s and this emergence is intertwined with feminist as well as queer theory and politics' (Bettcher, 2009). Its development led to '[t]ransgender theory' being recognised as a 'theoretical orientation on the nature of gender and gender identity in understanding the lived experiences of transgender and transsexual individuals' (Nagoshi and Brzuzy, 2010, p.431). It is this perspective that the dissertation foregrounds in its analysis of the texts. Chapter one examines how trans may be understood within an essentialist context. It examines how biologically essentialist views may be used as a weapon against acknowledging trans individuals in their gendered identity, but also shows how trans may be used to deconstruct essentialist arguments through its exposure of the performativity of gender. Chapter two explores the trans notion of 'passing', 'the achievement of feminine or masculine "realness"' (Whittle, 2000, p.48), its interaction with essentialist debate surrounding performativity and its particular relevance to FtMs whose surgical options are limited. Chapter three looks specifically at how trans theory may be used within literary criticism, something that has seldom been done. It examines how trans lived experience is portrayed within the texts, taking into particular consideration the differences between cisgender (non-trans) and trans authored texts. This dissertation found that cisgender texts generally fail to encompass the full range of gender expression experienced within the trans community, whereas trans authored texts incorporate a far wider range of non-normative experience.
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