Transnormativity in vloggers’ identity construction

Journal article

Jones, Lucy (forthcoming 2018) Discourses of transnormativity in vloggers’ identity construction. International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Draft manuscript available here.

This paper investigates the construction of two transgender vlogger personas, providing insight into the prevalence of normative discourses which may be drawn on when constructing transgender identities. Many transgender people around the world rely on the internet as a source of information and guidance; online video diaries (‘vlogs’), in which young people record and chart their experiences of transition, play a particularly important role. In this paper, discourse from two popular transgender vloggers is critically analysed. It is found that the vloggers index identities which are broadly in line with what Zimman (2012) terms the archetypal ‘true transsexual’, an ideological model of what it means to be ‘authentically’ transgender. This corresponds with heteronormative, essentialist expectations of binary gender. The vloggers are shown to authenticate their own experiences by stating what is ‘typical’ and positioning themselves as ‘experts’. Ultimately, it is argued that the version of transgender identity and experience that they put forwards reproduces prevalent discourses of normative gender and sexuality.

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