‘What’s in a name?’ The discursive construction of gender identity over time
(2022) Journal of Gender Studies
In recent years the concern with gender diversity fuelled by the rapid expansion of transgender studies highlighted multiple possibilities for constructing gender through discursive enactments. As the self-declaration of gender identity gained legitimacy, personal narratives became increasingly relevant. Verbalizing gender identity is instrumental for extending the very notion of gender as belonging to the domain of individual subjectivity and amenable to as many names as people’s non-transferable experiences allow. Drawing on 40 in-depth interviews with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals in Portugal, the article examines the multiple terms used to self-describe and affirm gender identity over time. Reconstituted step-by-step through longitudinal lenses, each semantic journey illustrates how individuals appropriate different lexicons and self-describe at the intersection of multiple categories, resist biomedical codifications of gender transition and reinvent the terms of binary discursive regimes. Through their discursive practices, trans and gender-nonconforming individuals in the Portuguese context challenge one-dimensional readings of gender identity. While combining narrative approaches with regimes of power, the paper mobilizes Foucault’s notion of discursive formation and Bourdieu’s concept of field. ‘What’s in a name’ is more significant than Shakespeare ever imagined. The more the nexus-bodies-names-identities is disarticulated, the more individuals gain semiotic agency for self-describing their gender identities. © 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
discursive regimes; gender identity; semantic fields; semantic self-description; semiotic agency; Trans individuals
Document Type: Article
Publication Stage: Article in Press