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“I’m Technically Not Disowned”: Familial Strain, Trans Resilience, and Bargaining for Belonging

Advances in Trans Studies: Moving Toward Gender Expansion and Trans Hope

ISBN: 978-1-80262-030-6, eISBN: 978-1-80262-029-0

ISSN: 1529-2126

Publication date: 19 November 2021

Abstract

This study builds on existing research to explore how transgender and non-binary people navigate complex terrain when it comes to strained and ambiguous relationships with families of origin. This chapter draws on 23 in-depth interviews with trans and non-binary adults (ages 19–41) to examine the ways that respondents navigated ambiguous and complex family relationships marked by mixed messages and contradictory behaviors from parents regarding their sexual and gender identities. I find that respondents engage in a range of strategies – correcting, conforming, and concealing – to bargain for belonging within families of origin through their work to preserve family ties. Beyond experiencing the emotional costs of ambiguous parental support, I find that some respondents also experience financial strain and inadequate housing, stemming from unstable, distressing relationships with their parents. This chapter demonstrates that ambiguous support from family and complex familial relationships may contribute to a cycle of precarity for trans and non-binary adults. Finally, I show that for respondents, connections to local queer and trans communities and supportive partnerships buffered the negative impacts of familial ambiguity. However, not all respondents had access to community support, intensifying their experiences of marginalization. This chapter contributes to the literature working to destabilize the support versus rejection binary used to characterize LGBTQ experiences and has implications for better understanding the pathways into poverty that trans and non-binary people experience.

Keywords

Citation

Troia, B. (2021), "“I’m Technically Not Disowned”: Familial Strain, Trans Resilience, and Bargaining for Belonging", Johnson, A.H., Rogers, B.A. and Taylor, T. (Ed.) Advances in Trans Studies: Moving Toward Gender Expansion and Trans Hope (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 32), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 159-176. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1529-212620210000032011

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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