I'll be talking about some of the initial findings from my PhD research at the British Sociological Association national conference, Changing Society, next week.
I'm speaking in the 11am-12:30pm session as part of the Social Divisions/Social Identities stream. A copy of my abstract can be found below.
#transdocfail: What makes a Twitterstorm important?
In January 2013 hundreds of trans people took to Twitter to share stories of alleged medical malpractice. The catalyst
for this outpouring of anger and accusation was the creation of #transdocfail, a hashtag intended to promote
discussion of issues faced by trans people accessing medical services in the UK. Within weeks #transdocfail was
being discussed within the mainstream media and the British Medical Association had launched an investigation. How
did an expression of outrage from members of a small minority group so rapidly result in wider recognition and
This paper draws upon a range of qualitative data – from Twitter, Facebook, bulletin boards and newspaper opinion
columns – to explore how #transdocfail was constructed as an ‘important’ and ‘meaningful’ event by trans activists,
allies and community advocates. I argue that several factors contributed to the impact of #transdocfail beyond the
social media platform from which it originated: these included the prior existence of widespread discontent, increasing
publication opportunities for trans journalists, and a strong belief in the importance of the event amongst participants.
I also explore how online discussion of #transdocfail intersected with a contemporaneous controversy over articles
about feminism written by Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill. The resulting dispute between journalists, news editors
and trans activists ultimately served to provide a wider platform for the dissemination of complaints originating with