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Trans exclusion in Irish LGBT+ social movements

Ellen Reid is a PhD candidate with the Department of Sociology, concentrating on LGBT+ identity. She recently attended the Identity in Times of Change Conference at the University of Manchester to present her paper ‘Truly a nation of equals?: Trans exclusion in Irish LGBT+ social
movements from 1983 to 2015′:

I presented at the Identity in Times of Change Conference at the University of Manchester on 7th June. Having studied in Manchester during my Erasmus semester abroad, going back to present there for my first international conference felt a bit serendipitous – but also felt like coming home.

While the topic of identity and identity politics has become contentious in recent times, I was delighted when I saw the call for papers for the conference, and even happier when I had been selected from a slew of abstracts to speak. While my PhD will more broadly investigate LGBT+ identity in the context of Ireland’s marriage equality referendum, my conference paper focused on the absence of influence of TERF ideology in Ireland.

I expected to be questioned on the arguments I was making, particularly in light of the recent developments in Irish feminist and LGBT+ groups – namely the decision made by Dublin Pride to have RTE as an official sponsor of the annual pride march after the airing of a transphobic episode of Prime Time. However, many people approached me following my panel to ask further questions, share their concerns about TERFism in the UK, and I was able to network and make links with reserachers in Manchester and further afield.

While the conference dealt with the theme of identity on a wide scale – paper topics ranged from indigenous peoples’ experiences of identity in immigration to European identity after Brexit to National identity in Hindi cinema – I was delighted to see such a wide-range of papers on LGBT+/queer identities, warranting two panels dedicated to this theme. Some of the highlights of this conference for me was learning about the diversity of work on queer identity being done in the UK and further afield – from lesbian visibility in Manchester, to Grindr Tourism, and queer identity construction through zine creation.  However, my favourite presentation was Jaime García Iglesias’ work on “bugchasing” (the fetishization of HIV infection), and the construction of bugchasers’ identities online.

Witnessing all of this research in action and learning about the research processes and queer methodologies employed by these doctoral students has made me hopeful for the future of queer research, and excited for what the future holds for not just my own research, but the community who are actively critiquing hegemonic conceptions of what it means to be LGBT+ in an academy that tries its hardest not to be queered.

I am extremely grateful to my supervisors Dr. Carmen Kuhling (Sociology) and Dr. Jennifer Schweppe (Law) for all their support thus far with my PhD. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the AHSS for giving me the funding to be able to travel to attend this conference.

Now – on to the next one!

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