Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Navigating the Binary: Gender Presentation of Non-Binary Individuals
by Horowit-Hendler, Sharone A., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2020, 246; 27962015
Abstract (Summary)

Much of linguistic study of gender has focused on the binary: “men’s language” and “women’s language”. Similarly, most of society recognizes only two genders with the assumption that gender is connected to body and that everyone will map onto this binary. How then do non-binary individuals present themselves when they desire to be perceived outside of this dichotomy? This study re-examines the question of which masculine, feminine, and non-binary markers exist, and explores the ways that participants are aware of and utilize these signifiers in performing their gender identities.

This study uses self-reported semi-formal interviews with 26 non-cisgender individuals in the general Boston area to create a schema of gendered signifiers and examine awareness of gender presentation. Discourse analysis of these interviews along with that of participant observation is then used to analyze gender presentation in practice, using the emergent schema.

The findings suggest that currently no gender-neutral markers exist, and non-binary individuals intentionally mix masculine and feminine features in order to present as something other than the binary. In addition, participants who were assigned male at birth (AMAB) are primarily only aware of manipulating their physical appearance, while participants who were assigned female at birth (AFAB) display far more awareness of linguistic and somatic aspects of gender presentation, able to deftly discuss and manipulate them. Furthermore, it emerges that intentional gender presentation is performed primarily for the cis-gender gaze in society.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Collins, James
Commitee: Welles, Brooke Foucault, Andaya, Elise
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Cultural anthropology, Gender studies
Keywords: Gender presentation, Linguistic anthropology, Non-binary
Publication Number: 27962015
ISBN: 9798635280874
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