Sistergirls/Brotherboys: The Status of Indigenous Transgender Australians

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    This article conducts a discourse analysis of 6 research projects and 6 conferences/forums between 1994 and 2012. These research projects, conferences, and forums pertain to the lived experiences of indigenous and non-indigenous transgender Australians. This article argues that non-indigenous transgender Australians experience issues related to economic instability, social exclusion, illness, and abuse and that indigenous transgender Australians face issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS, identity, alcohol and substance abuse, physical and sexual abuse, and community engagement. While these issues appear to be broadly similar, this research suggests that indigenous transgender Australians experience additional problems of racism within wider Australian communities (including queer communities) and transphobia within traditional communities. These additional problems draw attention to complex matrices of discrimination and “difference” that intersect cultural traditions, personal and social identity, and colonization. As a means of addressing issues of racism and social exclusion, indigenous transgender Australians have coalesced around terms unique to their communities, such as “sistergirl” and “brotherboy.”

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)173-186
    Number of pages14
    JournalInternational Journal of Transgenderism
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2014


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