Trans men and friendships: A Foucauldian discourse analysis

Zitz, Claudia, Burns, Jan and Tacconelli, Erasmo (2014) Trans men and friendships: A Foucauldian discourse analysis. Feminism & Psychology, 24 (2). pp. 216-237. ISSN 0959-3535 Full text available

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While research focusing on friendships of sexual minority individuals has increased over the last two decades, studies of transgender persons’ friendships have been largely absent. Yet, within mainstream literature it has been demonstrated that friendships are central both to identity formation and as support in terms of psychological need and distress. Given that trans people face important identity challenges and may well be disenfranchised within society, the role of friendships warrants study. Research which has occurred has largely focussed on trans women, yet trans men face particular issues in terms of their relationships with lesbian women and being positioned as joining patriarchy. This study explored this gap in the literature and used Foucauldian discourse analysis to explore friendship and gender identity. Dominant discourses identified included ‘friends as family’, ‘romance’ and discursive practices of ‘disowning male privilege’, ‘effeminate heterosexual male’ and ‘gender fluidity’ which counter hegemonic (trans) male re-positioning within friendships. The results indicate that trans men elevate the status of friends to those of other culturally dominant relationships (e.g. family or sexual partner). Furthermore, their friendships, in particular friendships with lesbian women, can become complex platforms from which to contest privilege and power associated with their (trans) masculinities. Conceptual and research implications are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Transgender, Discourse Analysis
Subjects: Sex Psychology > Transsexualism
Sex Psychology > Gender Identity
Sex Psychology > Males/Men
Department/People: Special Units

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