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Decolonizing Notions of Third Tender and Transgender Identities in Digital Scholarship

Transgender, third gender, and gender-nonconforming people are socially marginalized in both real and virtual settings. The widespread use of social media introduces an avenue for expression where both cyber bullying and verbal assaults against gender-nonconforming people are common (Ingram, Speedlin, Cannon, Prado, & Avera, 2017). Alternatively, gender nonconforming identities may also become legitimized, exhibit resilience, or receive support through online forums. Social media has become a platform for reinforcing social ties and sharing resources that may not otherwise be available to marginalized people or communities (Park, Rodgers, McElroy & Everett, 2018; Cannon et al., 2017). This project seeks to investigate how the identities of transgender and third gender individuals and communities are portrayed in digital media, namely on the social media format of Twitter. We may also draw from Dr. Posocco’s work as one of the curators of the online blog for the Decolonizing Sexualities Research Network:

In terms of analyzing digital content, the researchers may engage in either grounded theory analysis or thematic content analysis. Our unit of comparison may be common hashtags on these topics, such as #transgender, #trans, #thirdgender, #genderqueer, #genderfluid, or #gendernonbinary. The analysis of digital media content will seek to explore the social and cultural constructions of these identities by paying attention to local, national and international discourse on gender nonconformity. The researchers will also explore the notion of “hashtag activism” (Williams, 2015) where online posts become vehicles for social movements and social change. A more refined focus for this project will emerge after initial review of both the existing literature and relevant hashtag content. Findings from this pilot study will be used to apply for larger foundation grants focusing on international gender-nonconforming communities.