Breaking The Binary (2013) is a study by LABIA – A Queer Feminist LBT Collective. Based on a research initiative that began in 2009, its findings question and challenge many of our fairly basic assumptions about gender, sexuality and sex. That sounds alarming – but only until we realise that this questioning of rigid norms leads to more and more ease that allows people to live and breathe in their own skins rather than suffocate inside somebody else’s impossible boxes.
The sub-title of the study is Understanding concerns and realities of queer persons assigned gender female at birth across a spectrum of lived gender identities and yes, that’s a mouthful. A mind-tingling thought-provoking mouthful of words, which the authors are at some pains to explain and elaborate in their report – and at its release in 6 cities between 27 April and 11 May 2013. For now, suffice it to say that for this study we spoke to 50 people across the country, and it is their voices and stories that we bring to you, accompanied by our own understanding and analysis.
Through this study, we explore the circumstances of queer PAGFB who are made to, or expected to, fit into society's norms around gender and sexuality. We look at their experiences with natal families and in school; we chart their journeys through intimate relationships and jobs; we attempt to understand what happens to them in public spaces, and how they are treated by various state agencies; we discover where they seek and find support, community, and a refuge from the violence and discrimination that mark far too many lives.
Most significantly, this research has given us new insights into gender itself, which we feel are crucial additions to the current discourse in both queer and feminist spaces. Finally, the study flags areas of particular concern, and highlights some necessary interventions.
We ourselves are amazed at the richness and complexity of our findings and are impelled by the need to share these as widely as possible with all queer and feminist groups and individuals, activists and academics, all people working specifically with LBT persons as well as broadly in the areas of gender and sexuality -- and of course all of us who are interested in knowing more about our selves.
The dates and venues for the different cities are as follows:
The Bombay sharing will be streamed online and you will be able to access it from this site starting
6:30 pm IST on 29th April 2013.