Today, Lucy Jones (Assistant Professor in Sociolinguistics at the University of Nottingham) is giving a paper entitled ‘Subverting otherness & challenging ignorance: The discursive construction of legitimate identity in a transgender youth group’. This is what she will discuss:
Using discourse analysis, I will report here on moments of interaction between members of a support group for transgender youth. The extracts being analysed show four young people working collaboratively to construct a mutual identity, despite differences between them in terms of their gender, age, and experience. Their identity construction is achieved through the foregrounding of their relative expertise in, and experience of, transgender issues; this enables them to actively challenge and resist the ignorance of others, who they present as ‘othering’ them. In particular, the young people ridicule those who are ignorant and who (albeit implicitly) reproduce transphobic discourse. In doing so, I argue, they ascribe themselves agency and legitimacy by subverting the heteronormative ideologies which inform their experiences of transphobia. The young people thus construct an active, resistant, and validated mutual identity rather than a victimised, submissive, or othered one. The interaction detailed here reveals how speakers can jointly negotiate their identities in response to attacks or challenges to their validity, and I draw on theories from sociocultural linguistics in explaining this. I also argue that the identity work produced by the young people reveals the enormously important role played by support groups and other agencies in helping young people to construct a positive persona in the face of heteronormative society.
The seminar is today (Wednesday 1st November) at 5pm in 32/38 Wells Street, Room 314. All Welcome!