Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Kinship in Taiwan: Generational Changes and Continuities
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In this dissertation, I analyze gender and generational variation in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender family of origin relationships in Taiwan. My analysis is rooted in 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork and 80 family history interviews with three generational cohorts of LGBT people and with their parents and siblings throughout Taiwan. The people and families who contributed their stories to this project are diverse by region of the country and by their levels of involvement in Taiwan’s sex rights movement, including some who are very involved and others who are not at all involved and do not maintain social networks that are based on sexuality. I situate these cross-generational stories in the larger context of social and family change in Taiwan, with a focus on changes and continuities in the distribution of family resources, labor, and power. Key themes of the dissertation include the impact of patrilineality and patrilocality on lesbian and transgender lives at different historical moments; intersections of gender and class in the experience of parenting a lesbian, gay, or transgender child; and rapidly changing norms and expectations for parent-child intimacy and communication, which require new and different strategies for negotiating about sexual and gender non-normativity within families. Across these three thematic areas, I highlight the importance of shifting from a culturalist to a more materialist view of LGBT family issues in East Asia generally and Taiwan specifically, through renewed attention to the structural and material mechanisms that underpin LGBT family practices. I argue that an overemphasis on sexual identity and sexual disclosure has obscured cumulative material disadvantages as well as social and historical dimensions of LGBT family of origin relationships, particularly as these shape the lives of heterosexual, normatively gendered kin. The standpoints of people and families in this research point beyond sexual identity and disclosure to a broader set of issues that matter for LGBT parent-child, sibling, and other family of origin relationships in Taiwan and globally.
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender