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Prototyping a Social Worlds Perspective on the Transgender Brain

Conference contribution
Authors Linda Weichselbraun
Published in "Medical sociology", Working Group 13 at Sociologidagarna, Lund: 7-9 March 2018
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Language en
Keywords science and technology studies, transgender, brain, gender, biomedicalisation, neuroscience, symbolic interactionism, actant
Subject categories Sociology


Since the mid-90s, neuroscience has produced a number of prominent studies concerned with brains of transgender persons. As social scientists, it is relevant to inquire into the social implications of such research, and to understand neuroscientific knowledge production as a social process, impossible to envisage as something purely scientific. To approach these questions, I prototype an interrogation of the “transgender brain” from a Social Worlds Perspective, introduced by Anselm Strauss, further developed by Adele Clarke, and with roots in Chicago-style interactionism. This enterprise rests on the basic assumption that the "transgender brain" is not solely an epistemic object; its meanings and implications – its “realness” – is multiple, dynamic and constituted by actions and symbolic interactions among groups of actors who engage in this brain from various perspectives, or “universes of discourse”. How these multiple perspectives and engagements are to be understood is an empirical question, linking to issues such as access to care; boundaries between health/pathology conceptions of sex/gender; and subjectivities. How can a Social Worlds perspective advance an understanding of the "transgender brain" as a social-political, hybrid and multiple object with agency, that is not only discursive but also material and embodied?

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