Binary, bodies, beyond: an account of TGNC embodiment
Embodiment, the experience of bodily existence and its fundamental influence over our perceptions of ourselves and others, is a bedrock of both anthropological literature and trans studies. However, aside from a handful of works (e.g., Seamont, 2019 and Malatino, 2018), the two fields have remained largely separate in their treatment of trans intersubjectivity, body modification and the limits of language.
In this thesis, I seek to bridge this separation. Drawing from a 4-month period of fieldwork with five trans gender non-conforming (TGNC) individuals, the thesis demonstrates the beauty and variety of embodiment enacted by not-cis individuals. To do so the thesis is structured into five accounts, each of which encapsulate one individual and the everyday nuances of being in their body. Woven within these accounts are extensive quotations and self-taken photographs, intended to create an authentic multimodal representation of the individual. Each individual is presented in a single piece of writing, with accounts placed next to one another to complement and contrast individual understandings and experiences of embodiment. Dominant themes including the limitations of language, desire for and rejection of body modification, and intersubjective embodiment as fluid, ever-changing and ongoing, are conveyed at an individual level with external literature and theory referenced as appropriate. The conclusion weaves these threads together to explore what they may mean at a more collective level, emphasizing the need for trans and gender non-conforming voices in anthropology.