Becoming other: queer youth negotiating trans/gressive identities

Year: 2013

Author: Bansel, Peter

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Working with data collected from respondents to a national on-line survey and focus group participants, I reflect on the challenges queer youth face when negotiating those multiple discourses of sex, gender and sexuality through which adolescent and young-adult bodies and identities are constructed as simultaneously fluid and stable. I am particularly interested in exploring the tensions and contradictions between neoliberal discourses of freedom, individuality, self-determination and choice, and essentialised categories of persons as captured and circulated by markets (including on-line forums, popular culture, psychology, medicine and education). In looking at the ways in which markets ‘mark’ bodies and lives in certain ways, I also contemplate the lived effects that the freedom to be or become engenders. Alongside narratives of the freedom to ‘find’ or ‘be’ oneself, sit individual narratives of ambivalence, confusion, pain, rejection, violence, isolation, self doubt and self-harm. Indeed, the formation of trans/gressive identities through which newly emergent discursive and narrative positions and practices are made intelligible and possible, do not necessarily confer or guarantee intelligibility or recognition. Working with Judith Butler’s work on subjectification as constitutive violence and wounding, Michel Foucault’s account of governmentality, Giles Deleuze’s conceptualisation of becoming, and Paul Ricoeur’s work on narrative identity, I articulate my struggle to make sense of troubling data.