Struggling for Ordinary
Media and Transgender Belonging in Everyday Life
Published by: NYU Press
An in-depth look at the role of media in the struggle for transgender inclusion
From television shows like Orange is the New Black and Transparent, to the real-life struggles of Caitlyn Jenner splashed across the headlines, transgender visibility is on the rise. But what was it like to live as a transgender person in a media environment before this transgender boom in television? While pop culture imaginations of transgender identity flourish and shape audience’s perceptions of trans identities, what does this new media visibility mean for transgender individuals themselves?
Struggling for Ordinary engagingly answers these questions, offering a snapshot of how transgender individuals made their way toward a sense of ordinary life by integrating available media into their everyday experiences. Drawing on in-depth interviews with transgender communities, Andre Cavalcante offers a richly detailed account of how the media impacts the lives and experiences of transgender individuals. He grippingly looks at the emotional toll that media takes on this population along with their resilience in the face of disempowerment. Deeply rooted in the life stories of transgender people, the book uses everyday circumstances to show how media and technology operate as a medium through which transgender individuals are able to cultivate an understanding of their identities, build inhabitable worlds, and achieve the routine affordances of everyday life from which they are often excluded.
Expertly researched and eloquently argued, Struggling for Ordinary sheds a fascinating new light of the everyday struggles of individuals and communities, to seek a life in which transgender identity is fully integrated into the ordinary.
"Struggling for Ordinarychronicles the complexities of transgender media experiences and challenges commonplace assumptions about how audiences are influenced by media. Dedicated to giving trans voices and experiences a generous space, Cavalcante compassionately details how trans folk participate in queer worldmaking. This book serves as a model for other scholars working with underrepresented populations." ~Isaac West,author of Transforming Citizenships: Transgender Articulations of the Law
"Struggling for Ordinarymakes important contributions to media studies and LGBTQ scholarship. As part of media studies, reception studies strives to see audiences as individuals rather than nameless monoliths, and Cavalcante's research takes care to present specific, contextualized perspectives." ~Popmatters.com
"Across the seven chapters of his book, Cavalcante traces a clean arc from the history of transgender media portrayals, to how those portrayals shaped what trans people thought possible in their own lives, to the strategies trans audiences developed to manage the affective toll of negative portrayals, and finally to how media became (limited) tools to managing the accomplishment of quotidian tasks." ~International Journal of Communication
Ultimately, Andre Cavalcante’s book is an empathic and historically significant exploration of trans visibility in American society. Though a reader’s familiarity with queer theory would be beneficial, it is not a requirement... each in-depth interview successfully amplifies intimate lives and exposes insights into the struggles and reflections of each participant’s pursuit of the ordinary. Those who have an interest in trans studies; oral history/life history narratives of trans, gender-variant, and queer identified individuals; queer theory; and/or media studies" ~Oral History Review
will find Cavalcante’s work particularly relevant
"Struggling for Ordinaryis a richly detailed account of transgender encounters with the media in a rapidly changing environment. Providingan engaging snapshot of how transgender people have negotiated with trans images, Cavalcante finds these images to be tools for trying on andimagining new selves, and for making a life in which transgender becomes integrated into everyday, ordinary life. An innovative and unique study." ~Joshua Gamson,author of Modern Families: Stories of Extraordinary Journeys to Kinship