Gender ambiguity in the workplace : trans and genderqueer discrimination
- Over the course of my in-depth qualitative research with 25 gender-nonconforming individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have exhaustively documented a wide array of trans narratives, each one unique, complex, and nuanced. The goal of the research was to document the nature of the discrimination contemporary gender-nonconforming individuals face in the workplace, explore patterns between different types of gender nonconformity and discrimination, and describe the participants' strategies for managing this discrimination. The extensive discrimination overview I have provided reveals the myriad ways in which gender-nonconforming people are discriminated against in hiring practices and in the workplace. Strategies for avoiding and reducing discrimination reveal the equally diverse ways in which gender-nonconforming people navigate this discrimination. My research shows that discrimination towards gender-nonconforming identities and expressions, as well as the discrimination-reduction strategies they utilize, are organized by the widely believed cultural ideas that masculinity is superior to other gender expressions and that adherence to the gender binary is desirable and appropriate. While masculinity is usually favored in the workplace, it is not always true that all men by default experience better treatment than all women. Often those perceived as masculine women experience more positive workplace treatment than those perceived as men displaying non-hegemonic masculinities. The experiences of trans men with alternative masculinities and trans women who are perceived to be crossdressing men both suggest that masculinity by default is not always superior. Rather, masculinity that strives toward hegemonic performance is rewarded, while masculinity that strays is punished. In the context of trans identities, this often means that a trans person's relationship with masculinity is likely to be tenuous. Despite an increase in trans visibility that reveals the mutable and fluid nature of gender, most cisgender folks nevertheless maintain a belief that gender is fundamentally fixed and binary. Non-binary individuals often "do ambiguity, " or purposefully perform an ambiguous gender expression in attempt to have their non-binary identity socially validated. However, because non-binary and gender-fluid identities and expressions are unlikely to be recognized as legitimate, gender-ambiguous people are often pressured to "just pick one" constant and binary gender expression. Binary and consistent gender presentations are privileged over ambiguous and fluid expressions. Patterns in strategies to avoid and reduce discrimination support the ideas that masculinity is superior and that consistent and binary expressions are deemed desirable and appropriate in the workplace. Butch women and passing trans men described strategies to reduce discrimination far less often than trans women, gender-binary people, and gender-fluid folks. I document various discrimination-reduction strategies, including concealing gender identity and modifying gender expression, modifying interactions with coworkers and clients, perusing intentional job changes, and utilizing support systems. Only a handful of discrimination-reducing strategies were successful for both the individual and the greater trans community. Critically, these strategies relied on pre-existing situational factors that made workplace discrimination reduction possible in the short and long-term, allowed gender-nonconforming individuals to be authentic in the workplace, and positively affected the larger trans community through challenging misconceptions and celebrating visibility. Apart from the presence of trans-inclusive workplace policies, which tended to primarily benefit binary-identifying trans folks, the largest situational factor that predicted this type of far-reaching discrimination reduction was the presence of authority figures that legitimized and supported authentic gender-nonconforming identities and expressions in the workplace.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Fogarty, Alison C. K
|Stanford University, Department of Sociology.
|Correll, Shelley Joyce
|Correll, Shelley Joyce
|Ridgeway, Cecilia L
|Ridgeway, Cecilia L
|Statement of responsibility
|Alison C. K. Fogarty.
|Submitted to the Department of Sociology.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2015.
- © 2015 by Alison Carol Kaplan Fogarty
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