Sociological research on transgender and gender nonconforming (gnc) people has emphasized the interplay between identity and institutional contexts as constraining through hegemonic norms and dominant ideologies on sex and gender. Research in feminist trauma studies focused on insidious and embodied trauma has demonstrated numerous prospects for healing. In bridging these two fields of study through a socio-phenomenological lens, this paper shows how consciousness emerges in ways that facilitate the development of a type of bodily agency. Empirically, the paper examines whether trans and gnc people can use movement-based activities for healing, and how that healing occurs in particular spaces. In reflection of the impacts of insidious traumas on both the body and mind, this paper radically re-centers the body to consider the potential for healing through movement. Through an analysis of in-depth interviews with trans and gnc people on their engagement with movement-based activities, I argue that participation in movement, on one’s own terms, enables a practice of bodily freedom. Moving beyond constraint and regulation, bodily agency requires a degree of bodily awareness (consciousness) that can emerge through participating in movement-based activities in trans-centered and “personally-public” spaces. These results show that movement-based activities support trans and gnc people in healing from the impacts of insidious traumas. These findings have empirical importance, exemplifying the power of fostering intentionality through movement practices, as well as theoretical implications for understanding dynamics of agency and constraint in processes of healing from embodied oppression outside of formal therapeutic landscapes.
Blake-Leibowitz, KP, "“Being Able to Breathe Publicly:” Trans and Gender Nonconforming People Healing through Embodied Activity" (2019). Sociology Honors Projects. 61.
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