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Critique Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Trans lives in the ‘gay capital of the UK’

By Kath Browne, Jason Lim, 2010

Recent geographical interventions have begun to question the power relations among lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, challenging assumptions that LGBT communities have homogeneous needs or are not characterised by hierarchies of power. Such interventions have included examinations of LGBT scenes as sites of exclusion for trans people. This article augments academic explorations of trans lives by focusing on ‘the gay capital’ of the UK, Brighton & Hove, a city that is notably absent from academic discussions of gay urbanities in the UK, despite its wider acclaim. The article draws upon Count Me In Too (CMIT), a participatory action research project that seeks to progress social change for LGBT people in Brighton & Hove. Rather than focusing on LGBT scenes, the article addresses broader experiences of the city, including those relating to the city as a political entity that seeks to be ‘LGBT inclusive’ and those relating to the geographies of medical ‘treatment’ that relocate trans people outside the boundaries of the city, specifically to the gender identity clinic at Charing Cross Hospital in London. It argues that trans lives are both excluded from and inextricably linked to geographical imaginings of the ‘gay capital’, including LGBT spaces, scenes and activism, such that complex sexual and gender solidarities are simultaneously created and contested. In this way, the article recognises the paradoxes of the hopes and solidarities that co-exist – and should be held in tension – with experiences of marginalisation.

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