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Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

The tyranny of gendered spaces – reflections from beyond the gender dichotomy

By Petra L. Doan, 2010

This article argues critically that the consequences of a binary system of gender norms is experienced as a kind of gender tyranny both for those who transgress gender in their daily lives, but also for those whose lives are lived within such constraints. Feminist geographers and urban theorists have argued that space is gendered and that gendering has profound consequences for women. This article extends this analysis and shows how rigid categorizations of gender fail to include the intersexed and transgendered populations, a small and highly marginalized segment of the wider population. This article uses autoethnographic methods to illustrate the ways that those who transgress gender norms experience a tyranny of gender that shapes nearly every aspect of their public and private lives. The nature of these consequences is explored using citations from the transgender and queer literature as well as the lived experience of this tyranny by the author in a continuum of public to private spaces, including: parking lots, public restrooms, shopping malls, the workplace and the home.

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