“We don't want to stand out, yet some of us do": The experience and responses of gender counter-normative students at Stellenbosch University

A. Beukes, D.A. Francis

Abstract


In 2016, The trans* Collective student activist group brought to light the erasure of gender counter-normative students’ contributions to the success of the #RhodesMustFall movement in 2015. Equally important, the Trans University Forum released a report in 2017 that compiled the experiences of gender counter-normative individuals at seven South African higher education institutions. The report evinced that universities are sites that marginalise and alienate gender counter-normative staff, students and workers. Employing life history research, the present article explores the experiences and responses of three gender counter-normative Stellenbosch University students as they navigate the university environment. Drawing on queer theory, the article highlights their challenges while at the same time it emphasises their agency and strategies of resistance to tackling cis-heteronormativity. The article concludes by highlighting how gender counter-normative students acknowledge and incorporate their relationships with others, allies and their communities as a collective response and action – collective agency – to challenge the normative, and sometimes adverse, university space.


Keywords


cis-heteronormativity, gender counter normative, life history research, university, South Africa, collective agency

Full Text:

PDF

References


Andestad, S. 2018. The role of racial division in the #FeesMustFall movement: Exploring students’ personal experiences of the protests and the racial division in the #FeesMustFall movement in South Africa. Oslo and Akershus, Norway: Oslo Metropolitan University.

Attride-Stirling, J. 2001. Thematic networks: An analytic tool for qualitative research. Qualitative Research 1(3): 385‒405.

Ayres, L., K. Kavanaugh and K. Knafl. 2003. Within-case and across-case approaches to qualitative data analysis. Qualitative Health Research 13(6): 871‒883.

Butler, J. 1999. Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.

Collison, C. 2016. #FeesMustFall “burns” queer students. Mail & Guardian 14 October.

Cornell, J., K. Ratele and S. Kessi. 2016. Race, gender and sexuality in student experiences of violence and resistances on a university campus. Perspectives in Education 34(2): 97‒119.

Equality Unit. 2019. http://www.sun.ac.za/english/learning-teaching/student-affairs/cscd/equalityunit/ about-us (Accessed 22 September 2019).

Francis, D. and F. Reygan. 2016. Relationships, intimacy and desire in the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in South Africa. South African Review of Sociology 47(3): 65‒84.

Francis, D. 2016. “I felt confused; I felt uncomfortable ... my hair stood on ends”: Understanding how teachers negotiate comfort zones, learning edges and triggers in the teaching of sexuality education in South Africa. In Global perspectives and key debates in sex and relationships education: Addressing issues of gender, sexuality, plurality and power, ed. V. Sundaram and H. Sauntson, 130–145. Palgrave Macmillan UK. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9781137500229_9

Francis, D. 2017a. “I think we had one or two of those, but they weren’t really”: Teacher and learner talk on bisexuality in South African schools. Journal of Bisexuality 17(2): 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/15299716.2017.1326998

Francis, D. 2017b. TROUBLING the teaching and learning of gender and sexuality diversity in South African education. Palgrave Macmillan.

Francis, D. 2019. “Oh my word; for us African gays it’s another story.” Revealing the intersections between race, same sex-sexuality and schooling in South Africa. Race Ethnicity and Education, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2019.1679752

Francis, Dennis A. and Kylie Kuhl. 2020. “Imagining a curriculum beyond compulsory heterosexuality in South African education.” Journal of LGBT Youth: 1–20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/ 19361653.2020.1844606

Hames, M. 2007. Sexual identity and transformation at a South African university. Social Dynamics 33(1): 52‒77.

Hames, M. 2016. Black feminist intellectual activism: A transformative pedagogy at a South African university. Cape Town, South Africa: University of Cape Town.

Hlatshwayo, M. N. and K. D. Fomunyam. 2019. Theorising the #MustFall student movements in contemporary South African higher education: A social justice perspective. Journal of Student Affairs in Africa 7(1): 61‒80. DOI: 10.24085/jsaa.v7i1.3693.

Langa, M. 2017. Researching the #FeesMustFall movement. In An analysis of the #FeesMustFall movement at South African universities, ed. M. Langa, 6‒12. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

LesBiGay. 2019. http://www.sun.ac.za/english/students/studentsocieties/social-awareness-societies/ lesbigay (Accessed 22 September 2019).

Matthyse, G. 2017. Heteronormative higher education: Challenging the status quo through LGBTIQ awareness-raising. South African Journal of Higher Education 31(4): 112‒126.

Merriam, S. 1998. Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

Msibi, T. 2013. Queering transformation in higher education. Perspectives in Education 31(2): 65‒73.

Ndelu, S. 2017a. “A rebellion of the poor”: Fallism at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. In An analysis of the #FeesMustFall movement at South African universities, ed. M. Langa, 13‒32. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Ndelu, S. 2017b. In their voices: Being (trans)gender diverse at a South African university. Trans University Forum (TUF!). Cape Town, South Africa.

Ndelu, S., S. Dlakavu and B. Boswell. 2017. Womxn’s and nonbinary activists’ contribution to the RhodesMustFall and FeesMustFall student movements: 2015 and 2016. Agenda 31(3‒4): 1‒4.

Nyamnjoh, F. B. 2016. #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at resillient colonialism in South Africa. Bamenda, Cameroon: Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group.

Omar, Y. 2016. Trans collective stops RMF exhibition. https://www.news.uct.ac.za/article/-2016-03-10-trans-collective-stops-rmf-exhibition (Accessed 22 September 2019).

Seidman, I. E. 1991. Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Stellenbosch University. 2013. Policy for placement in residences, and in listening, learning and living houses, as well as allocation to PSO wards and clusters. https://www.sun.ac.za/ english/maties/Documents/Placement%20Policy.pdf (Accessed 22 September 2019).

Trans University Forum. 2017. https://web.facebook.com/transuniversityforum/?tn-str=k*F (Accessed 7 March 2020).

Wagner, L. 2016. Naked trans protesters: Rhodes Must Fall must fall. The Times 11 March: 6.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.20853/34-6-4105

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


eISSN: 1753-5913

Copyright © 2016 South African Journal of Higher Education

Hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2016.

Creative Commons License -CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Disclaimer:
This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.