Alexandria Digital Research Library

Moments of Transformation: Gender, Sexuality, and Desire among Partners of Trans Men

Bishop, Katelynn C.
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Sociology
Degree Supervisor:
Beth Schneider
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Gender Studies, GLBT Studies, and Sociology, General
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
M.A.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2012

This thesis explores the effects of gender transition within romantic and sexual partnerships. I consider in particular how partners of trans men understand their own genders, sexual identities, and desires in relation to their partners. I draw on data from 11 interviews with partners of trans men, nearly all of whom were with their partners through parts of the transition process, as well as data from YouTube videos made by partners of trans men.

I present three key sets of findings here. First, I consider the production of divisions between cisgender, genderqueer, and transgender within the context of intimate relationships between trans men and their partners. I consider in particular how partners of trans men who view their own genders as complicated, fluid, or queer construct a division between their experience with gender and their partners' by referring to their own social privileges, in particular their possession of socially intelligible bodies and their lack of body dysphoria.

Second, I consider how trans men's partners' understandings of their sexual identities are affected by their partners' transitions. I find that some partners, particularly those who identified as queer, labelless, or with a non-binary sexual identity prior to their partners' transitions, experience no change in their sexual identities as a result of their partners' transitions. Other partners recast their sexual identities in ways that work to affirm their partners' gender identities and even operate to produce their partners' gender identities as essential. I also consider how partners who continue to identify as queer or lesbian following their partners' transitions negotiate the dilemma of inadvertently "passing" as straight now that their partners are perceived as men. Finally, I discuss how partners negotiate the experience of being in an intimate relationship with someone who is undergoing the physical processes of gender transition. I find that partners tend to describe their desires shifting along with their partners' changing bodies.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (77 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Katelynn Bishop
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