Living the VirtuReal: Negotiating Transgender Identity in Cyberspace

Authors


  • Accepted by previous editor Maria Bakardjieva

Abstract

This paper examines the ways transgender users manoeuver between online and offline worlds in order to negotiate their complicated gender identity and to overcome offline impediments. The study is based on virtual ethnography and discourse analysis within two online arenas, a newsgroup and a website, which are central to the Israeli transgender community. The analysis suggests that transgender users employ cyberspace as preliminary, complementary, and/or alternative spheres. Delving deeper into the meaning of the alternative sphere, the paper revisits 2 central issues in Internet research, namely the relationships between the online and the offline worlds, and identity management within online settings. The paper concludes by proposing a new term – VirtuReal – to address these issues.

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