We Really Do Live Here: Strategies for Rural Queer and Trans* Women

2019-12-01T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Amanda A Stewart
My dissertation draws on in-depth interviews (n=33) to explore the experiences of queer and trans* women in rural spaces. Using literatures from urban and rural sociology, geography, gender, sexualities, and queer studies, I argue that rural spaces, while often considered unwelcoming and closed minded, can also be conducive to queer and trans* lives. I specifically focus on the strategies that queer and trans* women use to negotiate the places where they live and the associated challenges. This project not only advances scholarship on rural queer and trans* lives, but also furthers understandings of queer and trans* sexualities and desire, which have been only minimally considered previously. In Chapter 2, I bring together literatures from urban and rural sociology, geography, gender, sexualities, and queer studies to show that there is a significant gap in the overall literatures on rural spaces, often referred to as the urban/rural divide. Chapter 3 considers the methodology of the project. Chapter 4 focuses on the overall strategies that queer and trans* women use in their everyday lives and interactions. The analysis, based on the ways that those who I interviewed discuss their everyday lives and interactions with individuals, groups, and institutions, shows how queer and trans* women use a range of strategies, depending on where they’re at as well as the situations and processes which they’re attempting to navigate. Chapter 5 builds on the previous chapter by specifically considering the topics of community and belonging and the strategies that these women use to not only negotiate these topics but also to work within the various social processes and circumstances related to economics, employment, safety, and discrimination that they face in their everyday lives. Chapter 6 focuses on the relationships that queer and trans* women have in rural spaces. Continuing with the theme of strategies, I focus specifically on interpersonal and romantic relationships. In my conclusion, I consider implications of my work and the need for future research on queer and trans* families and racial and ethnic minorities in rural spaces.

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