H's PhD explores the ways trans people experience sex.
Trans is commonly understood as misalignment between the sexed physical attributes of the body, and one’s internal sense of gender. Medical and social discourses make use of the ‘born in the wrong body’ narrative to produce an understanding of trans experience as psycho-pathology (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) that renders trans experiences of fucking as problematic, static, and fixed. This project instead shows trans people are a heterogeneous populous who experience gender, sexuality, and bodies in myriad ways. The project weaves together my autophenomenoghraphic personal experiences as a trans sexual agent, alongside intimate and creative encounters with six other self-identified trans people to generate ‘data’ which illuminates the diverse and complex ways in which we experience sex and sexuality.
Trans bodies and sexualities are navigated using a variety of tools: the use of language to reframe materiality, temporary and permanent bodily modifications, intention-setting and the queer act of asking to be seen, and of alternative sexual practices such as BDSM, tantra, and roleplay, for example. The findings generated will make visible alternatives to the hegemonic discourse of being ‘born in the wrong body’ and demonstrate tools and practices which mediate trans sexual embodiment. This may inform services for trans people, updating therapeutic discourses within psychotherapy and trans healthcare, and may serve as an empowering experience for those involved. Positioned within Trans Studies, which since its inception is a transdisciplinary field, this project challenges binarist debates within queer, feminist and psychology scholarship. The New Materialist concept of ‘assemblages’ eschews the essentialist/constructionist impasse by attending to both the material body with all its felt subjectivity, and the cultural and discursive production of bodily intelligibility, not as distinct categories, but as interdependent, dynamic and reciprocal processes.