Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Jackie Orr

Second Advisor

Andrew London

Third Advisor

Prema Kurien


Cisgender, FTM, Identity, Partners, Queer, Transgender

Subject Categories

Gender and Sexuality


This dissertation blends traditional ethnographic data from interviews and observations with digital ethnographic data from blogs and YouTube videos to present stories of identity, community, and activist-oriented experiences from white cisgender women who are partnered with trans-identified people on the FTM spectrum. The project addresses the following broad questions: How does being the cisgender partner of a trans person inform complexities around the ability to articulate sexual identity? How are cisgender partners finding community and organizing themselves into new forms of community when they often lack language with which to describe their relationships? In what ways are cisgender people allies to the trans people with whom they partner, and how is being an ally connected to forms of everyday resistance and educational advocacy? How does technology play a role in articulations of identity, experiences of community, and the ways that partners participate in activism?

This work queers sociology by illustrating and considering the potential consequences of normative categories of gender and sexuality in relation to everyday lived experience. This project brings out the tension for many cis partners between a desire to belong by using normative categories of identity, coupled with a complex need to also resist those categories. Relatedly, I examine how the problems of identity for cis partners impact their access to various identity-based communities, and I instead argue for a queer politics of affinity. Further, this work calls for a broadening of what constitutes "activism" in order to consider the everyday actions and advocacy work that partners engage in as contributing to and encouraging social change around trans issues. Accordingly, my work contributes not only to the fields of queer and trans studies, but also to a sociology of gender and sexuality that takes queer and trans studies seriously in terms of theoretical contexts and analyses.


Open Access