Trans-formations of Gendered Identities in Ireland
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The period 1990–2010 saw several major transitions in Irish culture and society. The establishment of the IRA and UVF/LVF ceasefires and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, a significant challenge to and weakening of the position of the Catholic Church as a major power bloc within the Irish state, and the increased visibility and acceptance of non-normative gender and sexual identities at discursive and legislative levels, all occurring against the backdrop of the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger, prompted changing constructions of national and gender identity. Critical analysis, however, cautions against the easy equation of change with unilinear progress towards equality and liberation. Looking at representations of trans identities issuing from within and without the LGBT movement at various points during the Celtic Tiger era and beyond, this paper illustrates the complex and variegated relationships between such representations and dominant discourses on gender and on national belonging. An exploration of Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game and Breakfast on Pluto and on performances associated with the Alternative Miss Ireland pageant demonstrates that while representations of transgressive identities can serve to support as well as challenge hegemonic constructions of gender and nationality, performative representations, and drag performances in particular, may serve not only to queer dominant and intersecting discourses on masculinity, sexuality and national identity, but also to reinflect Bakhtin’s conception of the carnivalesque in a critical engagement both with political questions and with dominant constructions and definitions of the political field itself.
KeywordsGender Identity Sexual Identity National Identity Dominant Discourse Irish Society
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