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Reading: Trans Phenomenology: A Merleau-Pontian Reclamation of the Trans Narrative


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Trans Phenomenology: A Merleau-Pontian Reclamation of the Trans Narrative


N.F. Baldino

Knox College, US
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Transgender identities have historically been faced with erasure by the cisgender community, particularly through being forced to use cisgender terminology to define their own non-conforming experiences. This systemic cisgender inscription upon transgender identity is seen clearly through Bernice Hausman’s medicalizing reading of transgender narratives, leading her to falsely conclude that transgender individuals perpetuate the cisgender binary. I argue that Hausman’s analysis denies trans individuals the right to speak for themselves, thus denying them the agency of creating their own narratives. In the wake of this particular form of gender violence, the transgender community must create their own method of narrative construction and analysis. By rereading gender into Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s discussion of sexuality, I create a trans phenomenology as a way to read and analyze trans narratives. Focusing on Merleau-Ponty’s description of sexuality as reciprocally reflecting existence through his case study of the “silent, heartbroken girl,” I argue that through narrative, we see that gender, too, reciprocally reflects existence. Applying this framework to rereadings of trans narratives, I not only show how gender is truly lived, but offer a uniquely positive account of transgender identity by focusing on individuals’ own descriptions of themselves, thereby reclaiming the trans narrative on trans terms.

How to Cite: Baldino, N.F., 2015. Trans Phenomenology: A Merleau-Pontian Reclamation of the Trans Narrative. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 7(2), pp.21 (162–170). DOI:
Published on 29 May 2015.
Peer Reviewed


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