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Transsexual recognition:embodiment bodily aesthetics and the medicolegal system

Davy, Zowie (2008) Transsexual recognition:embodiment bodily aesthetics and the medicolegal system. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis develops recent work on transsexual/gender embodiment that has emerged from the field of transgender studies. The empirical study has been influenced by poststructuralist theory and feminist phenomenology and focuses on the constructed personal meanings of embodiment and bodily aesthetics for transpeople. Furthermore the thesis explores how trans embodiment is constructed within the medicolegal system and transgender politics in the United Kingdom. This study reviews the medical and legal work on transsexuality, which forms the basis. of being recognised in law as either (trans) men or (trans) women and how medical theories and legal prescriptions have been adapted through time on the basis of trans bodily aesthetics. Transmen and transwomen's personal bodily aesthetics are discursively and materially constructed and recognised through body images of the "phenomenological, " "sexual" and "social body, " which all provide for understandings surrounding their gender identities. Moreover, the thesis investigates how embodiment and bodily aesthetics are framed in three Transgender Community Organisations (T-COs). The epistemological approach of phenomenology in this thesis allows for detailed descriptions surrounding the diverse bodily practices of the trans participants, and their experiences with the medicolegal system and T-COs. The study employed semi-structured interviews and photograph elicitation methods with fourteen transwomen, eight transmen and one person who had had male to female SRS but had decided to live as "bi-gendered. " The age range of the sample ranged from twenty two to sixty years old, who were at different stages of transition, and who all recognise themselves as being of a different gender to that which was given at birth. The thesis identifies diverse embodied practices by transpeople, which all help constitute a commitment to a specific gender identity. These findings challenge the traditional medical models, which constitutes the "true transsexual" as always requiring a normative bodily aesthetic. I consider the processes of attaining a masculine or feminine body and how different discourses of embodiment are 'utilised or challenged and how imaginatively anticipated bodies are actualised through technology. The thesis argues that transmen and transwomen differ in their engagement with technology and discourses of embodiment of the self, within transgender politics and within the medicolegal system. Furthermore, it suggests that bodily aesthetics are important aspects of lived experience in relation to transpeople's phenomenological, sexual and social selves.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > University of Leeds Research Centres and Institutes > Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.513946
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2010 15:32
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 10:27
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/246

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