Other genders: (Un)doing gender norms in Portugal at a microsocial level

Sara Merlini


Departing from an analysis of alternative views and practices to gender-dominant norms, we focus on the construction of gender difference at a microsocial level. By looking at those who intentionally transgress and distance themselves from gender mainstream conventions and beliefs, we aim to deepen the understanding of the continuities and changes in gender regulation mechanisms and processes. For this, we will carry out a critical analysis of qualitative data from a sub-sample of transgender individuals who do not identify unambivalently with the binary categories of man/woman. Based on the Portuguese data collected within the TRANSRIGHTS Project,1 we will show how gender norms are being mobilized, transformed and resisted to in micro-interactions. To carry out this analytical exercise, we confront two of the fundamental theoretical currents in the study of gender norms. As we seek to bridge the gap between action and structure, our results provide insight into how gender is being (un)done in the Portuguese context. We identified three main groups that practice gender beyond the binary and their relation to the dominant norms. Given the growing visibility and greater tolerance for ‘non-binary’ genders in western societies, this study is both relevant and necessary.


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