Carnegie Mellon University

"Framing Androgyny and Agender/Genderfluid Identities and Embodiment in the Context of Transgender Studies"

Author: Jasmine Xie

This paper examines the emergence of a new ways of discussing and naming gender identities that arose out of discourse generated by nonbinary-gender identified individuals on the social microblogging website, Tumblr. Nonbinary individuals - people whose gender falls outside the binary of male vs. female - experience a structural erasure of their identity due to the lack of existing, widespread terminology to describe their identity. To address this problem, as well as to challenge the role that gender plays in one’s identity, nonbinary individuals are creating new terminology to describe their gender identity while changing how gender is discussed. This ultimately has the effectof destabilizing the notion of gender as fixed, inherent, and unambiguous. Through these new ways of discussing gender, nonbinary individuals are able to shape current gender discourse to better accommodate for and include their identities. To form a theory of how nonbinary users of Tumblr changed the common gender discourse to reflect their identities, this paper analyzes an extensive sampling of posts made on Tumblr by nonbinary individuals from 2013-present day, in which they discuss their gender identity, pronoun usage, and their conceptualizations of what gender is. By organizing these posts according to what aspect of gender is discussed, categories of difference can be established and further analyzed to discover the functional purpose of each type of post. Furthermore, my findings indicate that these new ways of discussing gender are unanticipated by previous theoretical works, and reflect an emergent view of gender that could become a new paradigm for conceptualizing gender.