Gaslighting: a weapon of dominance against trans and gender diverse people

Author: Jesse Muller

Muller, Jesse, 2022 Gaslighting: a weapon of dominance against trans and gender diverse people, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation, dominance, and control. It has recently become recognised to occur not only within interpersonal relationships, but also institutionally, structurally, and socioculturally. Very little is written about how gaslighting becomes operational in the context of cisnormativity where trans and gender diverse (TGD) people are the target. Early 2021 the Australian National University’s (ANU) Gender Institute and Centre for Learning and Teaching, released a handbook of gender inclusive recommendations for the university to adopt. A small section of the recommendations was introducing gender inclusive language to be used within curriculum and when addressing student parents. To understand how gaslighting is used as a tool of dominance against TGD people, an analysis of the online public comment in response to online news coverage of the recommendations was conducted. This involved analysing the discourse used by online commenters and examining the gaslighting that was present. This analysis was informed by trans theory along with literature on interpersonal, institutional, and structural gaslighting along with literature on the discourse surrounding TGD people who undertake pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. Various methods of cisnormative trans-erasing gaslighting was consistently used throughout the online public comments to impose structural and institutional cisnormativity, repronormativity and erasure of TGD people. The impacts of this gaslighting on an already marginalised community is also discussed.

Keywords: trans, transgender, non-binary, gender diverse, gaslighting, oppression, media, discourse, pregnancy, breastfeeding, breast feeding, chestfeeding, chest feeding, parenting, childbirth, social dominance, Australian National University, dominance, control, institutional gaslighting, structural gaslighting

Subject: Women's Studies thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2022
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Barbara Baird