Trans Wretchedness Theory and disrupting the focus on negative health outcomes
Withey-Rila, Cassie; Morgaine, Kate; Treharne, Gareth
The number of academic publications on transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse (TGD) health issues has been steadily increasing over the years. This would generally be an indicator that health science is gaining a better understanding of the general health needs, and trans-specific health needs of our communities. In spite of these increases in the quantity of publications, we have yet to see the preponderance of trans-specific research that is trans-affirming or empowering in areas of language and framing. I propose that addressing the health outcomes of TGD populations without acknowledging the mechanisms of power and causes of marginalisation contribute to a larger cultural narrative of what can be referred to as ‘trans wretchedness’. The dominant discourses of ‘trans wretchedness’ in academic and popular science writing erase or deny our self-determination, resilience, and resistance. These discourses of TGD health outcomes and experiences are actively contributing to the predominantly negative cultural conceptualisations of our communities. Over the course of a systematic literature review for my Master’s in Public Health, exploring the positive experiences of transgender and gender diverse adults in Aotearoa, I formed a theory to account for and challenge these negative conceptualisations. In my talk I will outline the Trans Wretchedness Theory, provide examples of its predominance in current literature, and we will work through how academic language, cisgender lens, and the perpetuation of Other have been (perhaps unintentionally) maintaining a framework of trans-negative associations for even the most well intended health science investigations.
Conference: Aotearoa New Zealand Trans Health Symposium, Hamilton, New Zealand
Keywords: transgender; transgender health; transgender healthcare; trans health; trans healthcare; public health model; trans wretchedness theory; negative health outcomes; dominant discourse
Research Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
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