Talk: The Discursive Construction and Performance of Non-Binary Identity
This study examines the discursive construction and performance of non-binary identities in the context of lived experience narratives. It uses a broad thematic analysis (Bradford et al. 2019) to contextualise and enrich discursive analysis (Corwin 2009) into how participants manipulate the semiotics (Silverstein 2003; Jaffe 2016; Gal 2016) of implicitly and explicitly gendered lexicon (following Zimman 2014; Zimman 2017a). Results show that this allowed participants to legitimise their self-identification by separating identity and embodiment (Zimman 2017a), and to create a non-binary inclusive ideology able to legitimise the experiencing and expression of their identities (Corwin 2009; Darwin 2017). The analysis further revealed how the discursive construction of non-binary identities was informed by the complex interaction of gender, embodiment, and sexuality (Connel 1995; Cameron 1998; Kiesling 2002; Eckert 2011; Zimman 2013). In showing how these identities were related through multiple instances of iconisation and indexicality (Gal 2016; Jaffe 2016), this analysis showed how they are constituted and interrelated in normative gender ideology more broadly (West & Zimmerman 1987, 2009; Butler 1993). Therefore, it is shown that in discursively constructing and performing their non-binary identities, participants engaged with this normative gender ideology and ultimately sought more emphasize individuality and personhood against the restrictions of binary gender. Thus, this study contributes to the literature examining how non-binary identities are discursively constructed and performed, but also offers crucial insights into the constitution of normative gender ideology and its relation to embodiment and sexuality. It concludes that this shows the need for more research within a sociocultural linguistics framework (Bucholtz & Hall 2016), where embodiment and the physical body are seen as central to the production, perception and social interpretation of language.
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