“Just Existing Is Activism”: Transgender Experiences in Martial Arts

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Brighton, Eastbourne, United Kingdom
  • | 2 Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
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This study focuses on transgender experiences in martial arts. Interviews with three Finnish and two British transgender martial artists were thematically analyzed, and findings were interpreted through the lens of queer theory. Two themes were identified related to the ways that transgender martial artists experience their sporting contexts, namely martial arts as an empowering and inclusive context and the challenges related to being transgender in martial arts. Two themes were also identified when it comes to participants’ strategies for coping with cis-/heteronormativity in martial arts. Whenever possible, participants employed social change strategies, whereas other times, they drew on self-care strategies. Following this, we suggest a need for context-specific, protective policies; nonbinary means of organizing sport; and gender diversity education for instructors to better cater for the specific needs of transgender people in sport.

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