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Transsexual recognition: embodiment, bodily aesthetics and the medicolegal system

By Zowie Davy


This thesis develops recent work on transsexual/gender embodiment that has emerged in the field of transgender studies. The empirical study has been influenced by poststructuralist theory and feminist phenomenology and focuses on the constructed personal meanings of embodiment and bodily aesthetics foor transpeople. furthermore, the thesis explores how trans embodiment is constructed within the medicolegal system and transgender politics in the UK. This study reviews the medical and legal work on transsexuality, which forms the basis of being recognised in law as either (trans) men or (trans) women and how medical theories and legal prescriptions have been adapted through time on the basis of trans bodily aesthetics. Transmen and transwomen's personal bodily aesthetics are discursively and materially constructed and recognised through body images of the "phenomenological", "sexual" and "social body", which all provide for understandings surrounding their gender identities. Moreover, this thesis investigates how embodiment and bodily aesthetics are framed in three transgender community organisations (T-COs). The epistemological approach of phenomenology in this thesis allows for detailed descriptions surrounding the diverse bodily practices of the trans participants, and their experiences with the medicolegal system and the T-COs.\ud The study employed semi-structured interviews and photograph elicitation methods with fourteen transwomen, eight transmen and one person who had had male to female SRS but had decided to live as "bi-gendered." The age range of the sample ranged from twenty two to sixty years old, who were at different stages of transition, and who all recognise themselves as a different gender to that which was given at birth. the thesis identifies diverse embodied practices by transpeople, which all help constitute a commitment to a specific gender identity. These findings challenge the traditional medical models, which constitutes the "true transsexual" as always requiring a normative bodily aesthetic. I consider the processes of attaining a maculine or feminine body and how imaginatively anticipated bodies are actualised through technology. this thesis argues that transmen and transwomen differ in their engagement with the technology and discourses of embodiment, within transgender politics and within the medicolegal system. Furthermore, it suggests that bodily aesthetics are important aspects of lived experience in relation to transpeople's phenomenological, sexual and social selves

Topics: L216 Feminism, L431 Health Policy, L210 Political Theories, A300 Clinical Medicine, L320 Gender studies, M110 UK Legal Systems
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

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