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Not Every Man was Male: Gender Passing in Nineteenth Century Britain

Thomason, B-G (2020) Not Every Man was Male: Gender Passing in Nineteenth Century Britain. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Not Every Man was Male: Gender Passing in Nineteenth Century Britain uses the nineteenth-century press to create microbiographies about the lives of twenty-five working-class female to male gender passing individuals. These microbiographies have been developed using newspapers, census material, and trade directories. By using a combination of microhistory (Carlo Ginzburg and Levi Magnusson) and record linkage this thesis recovers the life stories of gender passing individuals who have, until now, largely remained obscured in history. This thesis demonstrates how individuals attempted to live their lives in a way that was not bound to their biological identity. It also highlights how nineteenth-century society understood gender passing individuals and marked their ability to practice their masculinity in a recognisable manner. At the core of this thesis is the assertion that gender was performative, malleable, and unstable. Consequently, this thesis builds on Judith Butler’s idea of gender being a ‘free-floating artifice’ and like Don Zimmerman and Candace West, recognises that gender is something to be ‘done’. To fully examine these assertions, I have developed new terminology and a conceptual framework to understand ‘gender passing individuals’ in a historical context. The concept of ‘gender passing’ has been coined by me and builds on the work of Elaine Ginsberg and Irving Goffman, who both argue that ‘passing’ is used to understand how people moved beyond race, class and gender. Gender passing individuals performed aspects of nineteenth-century masculinity in a way that was recognisable by others. Similarly, this thesis develops the ‘4 C’s of Passing’ framework to consider how gender passing individuals were confident, consistent, and committed to their gender performativity and reflects on how they concealed their biological bodies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gender Passing; Gender passing individual; 4 C's of Passing framework; Gender nonconformity; Performativity; Transgender; Nineteenth century; Masculinity; Working-class; Microhistory; Microbiography
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2020 09:51
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2022 13:55
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00014005
Supervisors: Matthews-Jones, L and Vickers, E
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14005
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