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Straddling the scalpel of identity: A critical study of transsexual transition in a familial context

Jenkins, C E (2012) Straddling the scalpel of identity: A critical study of transsexual transition in a familial context. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

In 1999 I was still married to my wife and was a father of four children. When I changed sex and gender we became estranged. We were all distressed by this event which reflected nearly half of all transsexual transitions (De Cuyperea et al., 2006; Whittle et al., 2007). The experience impelled me to critically investigate transition in a familial context; such investigations have been neglected and overlooked in heterosexual and non-heterosexual studies of familial intimacy. I argue that identity is a social construct formed between individuals and others. Transition disrupts heterosexuality’s essentialist biological schema because changes in sex/gender identities are assumed to be fixed, coherent and stable. Transition caused familial intimates’ understandings to become fractured and they became distressed. I interviewed 13 transsexual and 12 familial intimates (some in the same family), using a self-disclosure approach suggested by Oakley (1981), so that they might tell of their transitional experiences. Telephone interviews were used due to their wide geographical dispersion, The transitional biographical narratives of participants were qualitatively analysed and coded using Nvivo. The methodology followed that originated by Plummer (1995) in his empirical study of sexual stories. The results showed that pre-transition transsexual people fear rejection so they adopt various strategies to begin transition. In 86% of the transitions studied cis people grieved their loss of identification with the trans person’s pre-transition sex/gender identities. The various strategies used by both trans and cis intimates to preserve relationships post-transition are discussed alongside situations where the new sex/gender identities became unrecognised. The data identified situations where intimates’ transitional distress is diminished and exacerbated. The study increases understanding of institutional heterosexuality, familial intimacies, transgender practices of care/support and transsexual transition.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Identity Transsexual Transition Family
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Sociological Studies (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.577370
Depositing User: Mrs C E Jenkins
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2013 09:38
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 10:45
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4196

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