The Gendered Temporality of Sex Changes. Relational Lives and Social Trajectories Among Transgender Men and Women in France.

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Emmanuel BEAUBATIE, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux sociaux, France
The social diversity of the transgender population is rarely mentioned in academic research on sex change. The heterogeneity of trans paths is neglected in transgender studies just as the plurality of women’s lives was -and still is- in feminist research. Although most studies on sex change are pursued in the field of gender studies, they don’t compare the experiences of transgender women and transgender men. Drawing from a qualitative study of 30 biographic interviews and from a quantitative survey (381 respondents) carried out in France, this presentation proposes an analysis of the gendered temporality of sex changes. MtFs (male-to-female or transgender women) and FtMs (female-to-male or transgender men) do not have the same social trajectories, and they experiment different living conditions. Young transgender women experience more violence within their families and relationships than transgender men. Thus, half of the MtFs try to give up on their sex change and engage in a lasting marital and familial life as men. They transition around middle age, while FtMs generally engage in this process at a young age. As a result, the median age of the beginning of the sex change is much higher for transgender women than for transgender men. As for MtFs who engage in their sex change at a young age, they face precariousness more than FtMs, who receive more support from their families and relationships. The description of these different transgender paths will enable a discussion on sex as a social determinant of family acceptance/non-acceptance of members belonging to gender and sexual minorities, and on the impact of these relationship lives on the living conditions of LGBTQ2 people.