Sociological research on transgender and gender nonconforming (t/gnc) people has emphasized the interplay between identity and institutional contexts as constraining through dominant ideologies on sex and gender. In contrast, feminist research focused on embodied trauma has demonstrated numerous prospects for healing. In bridging these two fields of study through a socio-phenomenological lens, this research shows how consciousness emerges, facilitating the development of bodily agency. Empirically, the paper examines whether t/gnc people can use movement-based activities for healing, and how that healing occurs in particular spaces. In reflection of the impacts of insidious traumas on both the body and mind, this paper radically re-centers the body to consider the potential for healing through movement. Through an analysis of in-depth interviews with t/gnc people on their engagement with movement-based activities, I argue that participation in movement, on one’s own terms, enables a practice of bodily freedom. Moving beyond constraint and regulation, bodily agency requires a degree of bodily awareness (consciousness) that can emerge through participation in movement-based activities in t/gnc-centered and “personally-public” spaces. These results show that movement-based activities support t/gnc people in healing from the impacts of insidious traumas. These findings have empirical importance, exemplifying the power of fostering intentionality through movement practices, as well as theoretical implications for understanding the role of the body when exercising agency in processes of healing from embodied oppression outside of formal therapeutic landscapes.
This research expands from a genealogy of trans, queer, and feminist scholars. Without the time and will to re-center marginalized experiences, theorizing on embodiment and queerness, I wouldn’t have been able to complete this research. To Dr Erik Larson, Dr Erika Busse-Cardenas, and Dr Corie Hammers, thank you for your guidance and dedication. To my loved ones, thank you for your support and encouragement. To the people who participated in this research, I am thankful for your willingness to be in conversation with me, share personal experiences, and offer wisdom throughout this project.
Blake-Leibowitz, K.P. (2021), "“Being Able to Breathe Publicly”: Trans and Gender Nonconforming People Healing through Embodied Activity", 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. 177-192. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1529-212620210000032012
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