This thesis is a qualitative study based in in-depth semi-structured interviews with fourteen female to male transsexuals, concerned with the social and discursive processes through which female to male transsexuals construct their new 'male' gendered social identities and the ways in which their bodies may be seen to impact upon these processes across a variety of personal and social relationships. Chapter One provides an overview and critique of key and competing perspectives concerning the relationships between transsexual subjectivity and embodiment, and the hegemonic discourses/discursive practices of heterosexuality, sex and gender, and medicine. Chapter Two establishes the epistemological and innovative methodological framework of the thesis, moving from the analysis of representations of transsexuality to a sociologically informed analysis. Dealing with issues of experience, voice, power, agency and representation through contemporary work in feminism and the sociology of health and illness, the Chapter adapts the multidisciplinary methodologies and methods of 'narrative analysis' to the study of female to male transsexual identity in social interaction. Chapter Three engages with existing perspectives on written transsexual autobiography within feminist, literary, cultural and transgender theory and, through rigorous and detailed narrative analysis addresses the significance and specificity of 'oral autobiography' where constraints and opportunities for the construction of an 'authentic' transsexual selfhood are produced in a dynamic, interactional context. In Chapter Four personal narratives are examined to extend the issue of transsexual 'authenticity' into the broader area of relationships with parents, siblings, partners, children, friends and work colleagues. It deals with the ways in which past and present knowledge of the interviewees as particularly embodied and gendered individuals by these 'knowing' others impacted upon their recognition and acceptance of them as men. The thesis concludes that taking this analytic approach which moves 'beyond the text' into social and interactional contexts reveals complex negotiations of 'traditional' stories, the significance of others' past knowledge and investments in sexed/gendered embodiment and the interviewees' own active management of their embodied gendered selves which earlier work has overlooked or not fully addressed. Finally it identifies fruitful areas for further research suggested through this study
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