Professor Lederer: Transgender Individuals' Language Evokes Journeys

Thursday, April 23, 2015
Photo of Jenny Lederer

SF STATE NEWS -- Jenny Lederer, an assistant professor of English Language and Literature at SF State, examined posts from Internet forums and YouTube to learn how transgender individuals discuss their lives and their transition. She found that a distinct metaphorical model emerges: that of a journey. The research was detailed in an article published online April 6 in the journal Metaphor and Symbol.

“In puberty hormones ‘rage’ because we understand sexuality as an opponent. In pregnancy, women grow their ‘little bean’ and ‘welcome’ the baby when born,” Lederer tells SF State News. “Birth is metaphorically understood as arrival and death as departure. So it comes as no surprise that gender transition is understood through a more literal concept like a journey. Even the label itself — ‘trans” — comes from this understanding of movement between bounded regions in space, the gender categories, male and female.”