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No woman’s land? Revisiting border zone denizens

Mackay, Finn

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Finn Mackay
Senior Lecturer in Sociology


This article presents empirical data from survey research into lesbian and queer masculinities in the United Kingdom, conducted in 2017, which garnered over two hundred responses. Dominant themes emerged which addressed the differences between the sexed body and gender identity; the contradictions of identifying with masculinities while critiquing hegemonic masculinity; a sense of anxiety or loss around a perceived decline of lesbian community and identities within it, particularly the identity of butch lesbian; and, finally, the variety of trans identities and how they are defined and distinct. The focus in this article is on the latter theme, the variety of trans identities, and particularly the shared experiences of individuals across different identifications. Namely, I consider how butch, non-binary, and queer individuals reported possible areas of resonance and recognition with transgender or transmasculine experiences or the experiences of trans men. I argue that rumors of “border wars” have been exaggerated, as these territories are often overlapping. In addition, some individuals inhabit multiple sites of identity or shift between and across shared sites. Degrees of sex and gender dysphoria were not only reported by trans-identified individuals, and while not all such individuals adopted a trans identity, this was not necessarily because these border zone denizens felt a strong connection to femaleness or womanhood; often far from it.


Mackay, F. (2019). No woman’s land? Revisiting border zone denizens. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 23(3), 397-409.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 1, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 31, 2019
Publication Date Jul 3, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 7, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 1, 2020
Journal Journal of Lesbian Studies
Print ISSN 1089-4160
Electronic ISSN 1540-3548
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 3
Pages 397-409
Keywords lesbian, gender, trans, masculinity
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Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Lesbian Studies on 31st January 2019, available online:


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