Linguistics and English Language

Language in context seminar

Speaker: Lucy Jones (University of Nottingham)

Title: What is ‘legitimate’? (De)constructing binaries in transgender youth discourse

Abstract: In this talk, I demonstrate and problematise the continued dominance of binary, essentialist ideology on western conceptualisations of gender, focusing specifically on transgender identities. Through an initial account of how trans people are represented in the press, debated about in politics, and medicalised by the state, I lay out a culturally dominant construct of ‘legitimate’ trans identity and experience. I then move on to analyse two differing sets of data: the gender transition diaries of young trans YouTubers, and moments of interaction between members of a trans youth support group. Through discourse analysis which draws on sociocultural linguistic theory and queer linguistics, I show that the identity construction taking place in both datasets reveals the dominance of heteronormative, cisnormative ideologies regarding transgender identity. I argue that these ideologies, which shape what is ‘legitimate’, are ultimately restrictive and potentially damaging for young people exploring their gender identity, but also show how the trans youth in my data push back against these ideas.

Further information

This is followed immediately (16:30 - 17:30) by a discussion and networking session for all staff and students in the 7th Floor Common Room, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD.


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Language in context group

Upcoming talks

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We hope to see you very soon!

Stephen McNulty

Sarah Van Eyndhoven

Co-ordinators of LinC

Feb 28 2020 -

Language in context seminar

2020-02-28: What is ‘legitimate’? (De)constructing binaries in transgender youth discourse

Room S37, Psychology Building, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ