Everyday precarity, oblique hostility and gendered liveability among Malaysian transgender men

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Although a gamut of sensational issues affecting transgender communities in Malaysia proliferates in academic scholarship and activism reports, and transgender experiences of tragedy and violence are often amplified in the news media, less attention is given to the everyday forms of aggression and vulnerability that transgender people encounter in seemingly innocuous spaces. Guided by a Constructivist Grounded Theory Methodology, I analyse selected narratives of three local transgender men to theorize their experiences of ‘oblique hostility’ in Malaysia, or subtle and implicit manifestations of discrimination and harassment that threaten to annul their gendered liveability. I argue that these spaces which initially and ostensibly do not target gender normativity for valid accessibility–such as airport x-ray scanners, road blocks and local Roman Catholic ecclesial communities–are actually implicitly grounded in normative gender expectations and thus perpetuate a condition of precarity for transgender men who struggle for recognizability, dignity and security in their everyday lives. My analysis is framed by Judith Butler’s ideas on precarity as the consequence of exaggerated and protracted state-sanctioned exposure to vulnerability, and Judith/Jack Halberstam’s concept of the bathroom problem writ large, an insightful reference to spatial apparatuses of gendered invigilation that pronounce the (in)validity of gendered lives.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Bathroom problem
  • everyday precarity
  • Malaysia
  • oblique hostility
  • transgender

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