Maria Carolina Baggio Zanetti Nucci de Oliveira
Master's – Negotiating passing: the relations between transgender people’s genders and careers
Advisor: Profª. Drª. Tania Casado
Comission: Profs. Drs. Wilson Aparecido Costa de Amorim, Pedro Jaime de Coêlho Junior and Eloisio Moulin de Souza
Class: 217, FEA-5
The present research aims at understanding the impacts of gender relations in careers. To investigate such an issue, we ask: how do transgender people negotiate with gender relations during their careers? In Brazil and abroad, transgender people fight resistance for defying cisnormativity - the discourses which postulate that a person’s gender is determined by their body-sex, producing the taken for granted relations between vagina-female-woman-feminity and penis-male-man-masculinity. Because of that, transgender people also find resistance when applying for jobs ascending inside formal organizations. In an effort to observe these negotiations, we look at transgender persons’ careers, that is, their work experiences over time and social space. Therefore, we use life stories as our research method. It is a method that allows the research subject to recount their experiencer over time and to contextualize them in history. To elicit these narratives, we sought for oral stories. We interviewed eleven transgender people purposefully chosen. We also noted down field notes. Narrative analysis and display followed two different methods. First, we summed up each life story and drew a timeline. Then, we cross-analyzed the narratives using grounded theory’s theoretical coding and the constant comparison method. It led us to the following conclusions. Transgender people can be in either one of two states: “neither shark nor mermaid” (when others do not recognize the referred person as a cisgender man or a cisgender woman) or passing (when the person is recognized as a cisgender person from the gender they identify as). If the person does not pass, they are subject to an array of forms of violence and face difficulties when entering and graduating from school and university, when looking for a job and while ascending in organizations. However, they sometimes receive support from family, groups, collectives, and even at work. Receiving support reduces the chances of suffering violence and its negative consequences. With that scenario in mind, our research subjects adopt one of two strategies: they either “go stealth” - when they express as the gender assigned to them at birth -, or they are open about their transgenderity. In general, people who “go stealth” face less discontinued careers. Being open about one’s gender is risky, except when it is in the diversity market - the name we gave (a) to organizations composed and led by and attend LGBT+ people, (b) to organizations concerned about diversity and inclusion, and (c) to work positions in company’s diversity initiatives. As we saw above, passing is a state, but also a strategy. When passing, our research subjects are protected from transphobic violence but are still susceptible to sexism. However, passing is not easy, and involve matters of race and social class. In the end, we present some recommendations from our research participants to other transgender people in their careers. Finally, we draw our own recommendations to our cisgender readers.
*Abstract provided by the author