Doing gender and being gendered through occupation: transgender and non binary experiences

Swenson, R., Alldred, P. ORCID: 0000-0002-5077-7286 and Nicholls, L., 2021. Doing gender and being gendered through occupation: transgender and non binary experiences. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. ISSN 0308-0226

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Background: Transgender people can face discrimination which can be reflected in and encoded by their occupational experiences. There is emerging research regarding those who are transgender but experiences of non-binary people remain under-explored.

Purpose: This study considered the occupational experiences of transgender and non-binary people and how gender expression related to engagement in occupations and space.

Method: Five transgender and non-binary people participated in repeat interviews, including a ‘walking interview’. Analysis was informed by new materialism.

Findings: Occupational engagement can re-enforce binary understandings of gender or facilitate creative expressions of gender identity. Within normative environments, occupational participation can offer assimilation, particularly for non-binary people. Some occupations provided emancipation from binary gender norms through expression such as clothing and creative activities which provided recognition and belonging. Symbolic and personal meanings of occupations shifted when participants were able to express themselves in a way that felt authentic.

Conclusion: ‘Occupational assimilation’ can bring safety from scrutiny for those who are transgender and non-binary but curtails authentic expression. Occupational therapists have a role in supporting transgender and non-binary people in accessing occupations which facilitate their authentic gender expression and need to improve critical awareness of the culturally encoded binary nature of many occupations and environments.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: British Journal of Occupational Therapy
Creators: Swenson, R., Alldred, P. and Nicholls, L.
Publisher: Sage
Date: 10 September 2021
ISSN: 0308-0226
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 06 Dec 2021 13:51
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2021 13:51

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