Intersectional Lens: Trans & Non-Binary Experiences II

Wednesday May 18 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm (Eastern Daylight Time)
Virtual Platform

Session Code: GAS4B
Session Format: Regular Session
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Gender and Sexuality
Session Categories: Regular Session

The sociology of gender and sexuality has made important contributions to the study of transgender and non-binary experiences. These include analyses of the development of trans and non-binary identities in childhood, the healthcare and mental health challenges experienced by non-binary and trans adolescents, and the parenting experiences of transgender and non-binary children. Others include work on the boundaries of trans and non-binary identity membership, as well as violence and discrimination against trans and non-binary individuals and the growing representation of non-binary and trans lives in mainstream media and popular culture. This session features papers that extend current analyses of trans and non-binary experiences in local and global contexts. Tags: Equality and Inequality, Gender, Sexuality

Organizers: Chris Tatham, University of Toronto, Paulina García-Del Moral, University of Guelph; Chairs: Chris Tatham, University of Toronto, Paulina García-Del Moral, University of Guelph


Noah Adams, University of Toronto; Kai Jacobsen, University of Victoria; Lux Li, Western University; HM Caron Francino, Diversity Essentials; Leo Rutherford, University of Victoria; Ayden Scheim, Drexel University; Greta Bauer, Western University

Trans Autistic Experiences of Health and Health Care

There is a significant overlap between transgender and autistic communities. While research into autism and gender diversity is increasing, the majority is conducted from a pathologizing medical framework that fails to incorporate the voices and priorities of trans autistic people themselves (Shapira and Granek, 2019). The trans autistic community has called for a shift away from questions of etiology and pathology, and instead towards research that helps improve trans autistic people’s lives and well-being (Strang et al., 2019). With that in mind, our research explores the question: How does autistic trans and non-binary people’s access to health care differ from that of non-autistic trans and non-binary people? To answer this question, we analyzed data from Trans PULSE Canada, a national community-based survey of trans and non-binary people. We found that 14% of participants identified with or were diagnosed as autistic. Autistic participants differed from non-autistic participants on several key variables, including higher rates of poverty and co-occurring disabilities. Trans autistic participants also reported worse general self-rated health and greater unmet health care needs than their non-autistic counterparts. Our findings demonstrate the dual and interlocking impact of transphobia and ableism on trans autistic people’s health and well-being. We discuss implications for future research and health care policy and practice, including the importance of recognizing the validity of self-identification of autism as well as improving gender-affirming and accessible health care resources for trans autistic people.

David Kyle Sutherland, University of British Columbia

Gender on the Front Lines: Healthcare Navigation and Strategies of Resilience among Trans and Non-Binary Care-Seekers

Transgender (trans) and non-binary people face unique challenges and stigma-related barriers when accessing healthcare services. Yet, how trans and non-binary care-seekers contend with, cope, and overcome these barriers in order to successfully navigate the evolving Canadian healthcare landscape remains underexplored. Thus, using an interview-based approach with transmen, transwomen, and non-binary/genderqueer people (n = 42) living in Canada, I examine the unique healthcare experiences and strategies of resilience used within and between each identity membership group. Drawing insights from minority stress theory, I focus my analytic lens on three dimensions in relation to healthcare navigation: i) the individual, ii) the interpersonal, and iii) the institutional (healthcare). My findings reveal how intra-community similarities and differences shape avenues of coping and resiliency in relation to healthcare considerations (e.g., accessing healthcare) and experiences among trans and non-binary care-seekers. More broadly, I generate new insights into culturally sensitive healthcare practices as well as promising future research directions in this area.

Jesse Tailor, York University

Trans & Crip coalitional strategies for acquiring life-affirming resources

For many trans and gender variant, Autistic-trans (Dale, 2019; Pyne, 2021), and Crip folx, finding clothing that is both gender-affirming and physically comfortable can be a difficult feat without the ability to pay for bespoke tailoring or access to niche boutiques in urban centres. Alongside the emergence of independent queer and/or trans boutiques and accessible fashion lines, more affordable, mass-produced clothiers like Old Navy are now courting trans dollars, ironically producing gender-neutral clothes that rely on gendered, exploitative sweat labor. Unfortunately, the emergence of the purple collar (David, 2017) phenomenon only further proves that trans social acceptance in Western society is contingent on ones’ ability to participate in consumer culture and ‘dress the part’ of gender legibility. Furthermore, the ableist, neoliberal imperative for self-sufficiency combined with transnormative pressures to be ‘self-made’ effaces coalitional, less consumer-dependent and accessible approaches to shoring up basic resources. Through the analytic lens of trans political economy, just as gay identity became reinscribed as a site for normalization, so too has trans visibility produced what Gossett, Stanley, and Burton, (2017) call ‘traps’ that prioritize our inclusion rather than focus on addressing systemic inequality. But poverty surviving trans and crip people have developed creative solutions to finding clothing, prosthetics, and other necessities vis-à-vis community clothing swaps, DIY open-source knowledge sharing, and queer, trans, and crip social media groups online. Crip and Crip kinship studies (Kafai, 2021; Piepzna-Samarasinha, 2018) as it intersects with literature on ‘trans care’ (Aizura, 2017; Malatino, 2019, 2020) offers suggestions for effective political organizing intent on building alliances across identity lines in the efforts to practice mutual aid. This discourse analysis analyses the creative, life-affirming methods that trans and crip people use to clothe the body and even find housing in a time marked by government fiscal austerity and the individualizing effects of neoliberalism in Canada.