The Dialogical Self and Transgender Identity: How Filipino Transgender Men Navigate Tensions between I-Positions

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Transgender people live in constant navigation of the gender binary to honor their gender identity and protect themselves against marginalization. Using Hermans’ Dialogical Self Theory (DST), we explore the agentic process of negotiation within the self and how transgender men negotiate the field of tension between the internal I-position of being a man and society’s imposed external I-position of being forced to be a woman. Using a multi-case study approach, in-depth interviews with five Filipino self-identifying transgender men were conducted. The negotiations between I-positions were analyzed following Aveling and colleagues’ Analysis of Multivoicedness. Key patterns of negotiating tension among transgender men were resisting the gender binary characterized by an identity crisis; performing femininity as protection against rejection, discrimination, and danger; and the claiming (and reclaiming) of the authentic self with transgender and queer communities. Implications of DST, a dialogical approach to agency, and the need to create gender-affirming dialogical spaces are discussed.