Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Jack Gieseking


Self-understanding of one’s gender identity both emerges from, and rearticulates into, the ways one experiences and mediates their personal and social relationships with the geographic worlds they inhabit. Trans geographical literature has, to date, created compelling work on the social geographies of trans people in highly-gendered spaces. This thesis extends the existing literature to research how gender is both experienced and performed in the mundane structures of everyday life. Building from theories of cruel optimism and homonationalism, this research examines how the discursive and spatial epistemologies of gender identity inform attachments to structures of normativity. Through archival research of transvestite periodical magazines and multi-generational fieldwork interviews, this work examines both the seductive temptations of normativity, the cruel optimism of believing if one articulates their trans identity in a “normal” enough way that the privileges of normativity might be re-extended to them, and how one’s embodied relations with normativity can resist or reproduce structures of homonationalism. As this research worked with people who do, or have, identified as crossdressers, transvestites, or part-time transgender, the temporal dimensions of one’s personal and geographic attachments also became a primary point of research, looking into the embodied relations of part-time normals.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the University of Kentucky Department of Geography in a Teaching Assistantship (2020-2022) and through the Barnhardt Withington Block Research Funding (2021).

Available for download on Tuesday, May 23, 2023