Senses of gender

Jason Lim, Katherine Browne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the testimony of trans respondents to Count Me In Too (a participatory action research project that examined LGBT lives in Brighton and Hove), and this analysis occasions the development of innovative concepts for thinking about understandings and experiences of trans phenomena and gender. The analysis starts by exploring the diversity of trans identities before considering evidence of how health services pathologise trans experiences. These analyses not only call into question mind/body dualisms within contemporary gender schema, but also challenge the continued reliance on a sex/gender dichotomy – both in public institutions and in academic theorising – making a definitive distinction between transsexualism and transgenderism difficult to sustain. To do justice to the complexity of the respondents' testimony, we advance the concept of a 'sense of gender' – a sense that belongs to the body, but that is not the same as its fleshy materiality – as one register in which gender is lived, experienced and felt. This sense of gender becomes expressed in relation to a sense of dissonance (sometimes articulated through the 'wrong body discourse') among the various elements that compose the body, its sex and its gender, such that the 'body' experiences an inability to be 'consistent' in ways that are usually taken for granted.The paper suggests that further work needs to be undertaken to explore how the concept of 'senses of gender' can be applied to a broader rethinking of the relationship between gender and the body.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2009


  • Trans
  • Transgender
  • Transsexual
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Sense
  • LGBT
  • Embodiment
  • Body
  • Mental Health


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