Spatialized imperatives of survival: Trans geographies of avoidance in Toronto’s gay village

Authors: Rae Rosenberg*, University of Edinburgh
Topics: Gender, Sexuality, Urban Geography
Keywords: Transgender, gender, queer, gay village, youth, urban
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Gay villages are the site of much attention within queer geographies. Yet despite critical explorations of sexual and gendered contestations within these urban environments, members of the trans community are often left peripheral or entirely absent, subsuming trans geographical specificities under a banner of similarity to the ‘LGB’ of the acronym and leaving unanswered the pressing nuances of trans placemaking within cisgender queer environments. In this paper, I draw from the experiences of homeless trans and non-binary youth in Toronto’s gay village to explore a collective trans spatial awareness of queer cisgender space based upon reproductions of hegemonic gender and transmisogyny. Through visual analyses of gendered symbology and imagery and interviews with homeless trans and non-binary youth, I explore how trans femininity is targeted and marked as Other in the social and cultural landscape of Toronto’s gay village. I argue that despite the openness and inclusion signaled by the neighborhood’s physical environment, its anchoring of hegemonic gender and transmisogyny cultivates a queer space of fear, apprehension, and exclusion amongst trans and non-binary youth in need of affirming spaces. As a result, a unique trans geography of avoidance emerges as trans and non-binary youth enact spatialized imperatives of survival that help to mitigate their exposure to violence, pain, and harm in cisgender queer space.

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