Monro, Surya (2015) Gender Variance: From individual pluralities to institutionalised equalities? In: 3rd Equal Is Not Enough conference, 4th - 6th February 2015, Antwerp, Belgium. (Unpublished)

In Europe and the USA, the last few years have seen a shift from a uniformly binary sex/gender system to one in which there is some space for trans* identities that are gender queer, or neither male nor female, or gender fluid, or androgynous, or multiply-sexed and gendered. This can be theorised using the gender pluralist model that I developed in the early 2000s.
It is now possible to talk more easily of both gender and sex in terms of spectra, with a range of subject positions. Within certain subcultures, gender-diverse identities have proliferated. Within mainstream culture, gender queer is visible. These developments mark a major cultural and discursive shift, and a shift in personal possibilities. However, at present there is a major dysjunction between individualised expressions of gender queerness or non-binarism, and the social and political structures that underpin central social instiutions including those of employment, education, and healthcare. The challenges that trans* raises in terms of law, language and bureaucracy have not been fully addressed.
This paper explores one element of the challenges concerning the inclusion of gender-diverse people: the discursive, normative elements of this. Drawing on institutional theory, it looks at the ways in which the institutional and cultural fields associated with queer and bisexual subcultures are constructed in opposition to mainsteam, binaried cultures. It addresses the sedimentation of gender binaries and heterosexism within dominant cultures. The paper develops some indications concerning the types of attitudinal changes, cultural shifts and discursive developments that may be required before gender-diverse people can be socially included. It draws on empirical material from a number of research projects.

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