Who Counts as Trans? A Critical Discourse Analysis of Tumblr Posts

Date

2020-06-08

Authors

Jacobsen, Hanna

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Abstract

Internet and social media sites have long served as a rich form of community-building and knowledge exchange within transgender communities. In particular, Tumblr has become a popular site among trans youth in recent years. Paralleling changes in medical and mainstream societal understandings of what it means to be transgender, trans Tumblr users have engaged in dialogue and debate about the definitions and limits of trans identity. While research has established the potential for positive identity-formation among LGBTQ+ youth on Tumblr, it is also important to consider how online trans communities may re-inscribe hegemonic narratives in addition to disrupting dominant discourses and ideologies. Using a critical discourse analysis of Tumblr posts, my project analyzes how trans Tumblr users define "who counts as trans". Much of the current debate centers on defining dysphoria and its relationship to trans identities. My research grants critical insight into how trans communities define the boundaries of their identities in a struggle for visibility, resources, and respect. My findings are situated in a much longer history of LGBTQ+ battles over identity labels and definitions and reveal how contesting terminology can give way to community in-fighting and divisions.

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Keywords

transnormativity, trans, transgender, trans youth, Tumblr

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