April 07, 2016

"(Mis)understanding transgender health" – talk at re:publica TEN

I'm delighted to have been invited to talk about my research at the re:publica conference on the Internet and Society, which takes place in Berlin from 2-4 May.

I'm currently in the final stages of writing up my thesis, so this is a very exciting time to be talking about my findings. At re:publica, I'll be focusing upon findings related to the 'discursive clashes' that occur when doctors and patients have very different ideas about what it means to be trans.


Over the last three decades, the Internet has fundamentally changed what it means to be transgender. Communities have formed over great geographical distances, and new possibilities for transgender identity and embodiment have been forged.

However, transgender people continue to face a great many difficulties in everyday life, most of which stem from experiences of discrimination, harassment and ignorance in the public realm. One area of key concern is that of healthcare provision, where transgender people across Europe still report being treated inappropriately or denied services.

Transgender health is frequently understood in terms of individual want: specifically, the expressed need to ‘transition’ from one gender to another. What can we find when we look beyond individual transition, to understand transgender health as a wider social phenomenon?

This session will draw upon cutting-edge Internet research to explain some of the social processes that shape transgender patients’ interactions with their doctors. Drawing upon examples from Europe in general, and the UK in particular, it will show how misunderstandings on the part of both doctors and patients can be explained through online discussion and narratives of transgender possibility.

The session will end with some proposed solutions, looking at how doctors and patients can better talk to one another, rather than past one another.

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