Posts Tagged ‘ transgender representations ’


With graduate school orientation complete, my brain is swirling with ideas. It’s too early on a Saturday morning, I was up too late last night, and I can’t stop thinking. When all else fails, sometimes you have to get your thoughts out on paper (or as it may be in this digital age- get your thoughts out on the interwebs). And thus, I present some possible thesis and/or paper brainstorms. I’m not really looking for commentary on any of this, as I’m in the brainstorming stage. However, if you can think of any good resources on any of these topics, I’d love if you’d send them my way.

1) Body image of female gymnasts, not only at the elite level, but at the recreational, pre-competitive, compulsory, optional, and collegiate level. What do gymnasts think about their bodies? How do they compare themselves with other gymnasts, other athletes, and their peers in general? In what ways do they worry about their bodies? In what ways are they empowered by their bodies? Is there a standardized measure of body image that I can use to compare gymnasts with the larger female population? How does this compare with the representation of women gymnasts in the media (both “insider accounts” and popular media- like Make It Or Break It and youth fiction). While we are at it, how do gymnasts thoughts on their bodies differ from what coaches and/or parents expect

Challenges: human subjects approval, sample size, statistics.

2) The peformance of gender roles in the circus. Compare historical roles in traveling circuses to those in modern circus arts, a la Cirque du Soliel. Strong men v. graceful aerial artists. Was this intentional or coincedental? Did/Does this reflect society or shape society, or both? How does this clear deliniation of gender roles among circus artists compare with the bearded women and such of the traveling sideshows? What was the appeal of each? The beautiful and the grotesque?

Possible resources: Janet Davis (UT Austin) “The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top” 2002, John Kasson, Peta Tait “Circus Bodies: Cultural Identity in Aerial Performance” 2005.

Consideration: UT Austin American Studies PhD? Someone in NC is doing work on this too.

3) Representation of transgender or non-“gender-conforming” individuals in popular media. It’s hard to think of trans- characters in mainstream media, but when they exist how are they shown? More interested in fictional characters than reality shows and talk shows.

Examples of the top of my head: Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Moira/Max from The L Word (is The L Word over-analyzed already?), Transamerica, Degrassi, Boys Don’t Cry. Do these representations reinforce stereotypes or show a range of expierences?

Possible resource: GLAAD

4) The discourse over “butch flight.”

Ah, maybe I can go back to sleep now.