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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"It's always negative" : trans youth perspectives on suffering narratives Corbett, Marja-Leena


Current depictions of transness are one-dimensional, flat, and lacking nuance. In particular, narratives about suffering and suicide pervade media representations and mainstream discussions about transgender people. How do trans youth feel when they are exposed to suffering narratives? What alternatives does this dominant narrative conceal? In this study, I center the voices of 16 transgender youth between the ages of 18 and 30 through one-on-one interviews to demonstrate that constant, repetitive, one-dimensional stories of risk, suicide, and suffering have detrimental effects. My results show how narratives that emphasize suffering can impede identity formation, erase humanity, conceal joy, and limit hope about youth’s futures. These findings suggest that foreclosing all dialogue about suicide is not the answer. Rather, changing the nature of discussions about suicide and risk and implementing new policies about how, when, and where this information is shared can improve the safety and well-being of transgender youth.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International