Transgender, transmedia, transnationality

Chaz Bono in documentary and Dancing with the Stars

Authored by: Katherine Sender

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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Discussing the travelogue as an exemplary genre of transgender autobiography, Jay Prosser (1999) addresses what initially appear to be the genre’s contradictory impulses: movement and specificity. Resisting polarized debates in transgender theory and politics between reactionary essentialism and progressive fluidity, Prosser does not counter movement with stasis, nor specificity with generality. He resists the temptation to see movement and specificity as oppositional, instead seeing “affiliation and specification as interconstitutive of each other and of transgender studies” (Prosser 1999: 87). Movement and specificity are particularly apt in considering the televised representations of Chaz Bono that appeared on US television and elsewhere in 2011. Bono’s transgender narrative exemplifies movement, mobility, and travel and also reaffirms specificity, identification, and the importance of context. These dynamics not only describe the various iterations of Bono’s transgender narrative but also reflect larger debates within communication and media studies about flows of content across platforms and regions. Movement, specificity, and their interconnections frame Bono’s transition to and repositioning as a man, the various ways this trajectory was represented in different media forms, the circulation of his narrative across media platforms, and the transnational distribution of his story. Prosser’s call to attend to both movement and specificity in transgender narratives intensifies the political significance of media scholars’ discussions of transplatform and transnational media.

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