Journal or Book Title
SHIMA-THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RESEARCH INTO ISLAND CULTURES
In recent years, there has been a surge of popular interest in the lives and experiences of transgender and gender diverse people. However, this interest has been disproportionately focused on adults and teens, on biomedical framing and persistent binarism, without paying attention to young transgender and gender diverse children's engagement with culture, media and meaning. This article presents data from an ongoing arts-based ethnographic study of young transgender and gender-diverse children (ages 3-10) in the United States. In this study, feminine-identified transgender children repeatedly drew themselves as mermaids in self-portraits and highlighted the importance of other mermaid-related play throughout their drawings and narratives. Even very young transgirls insisted that their drawings of mermaids represented the joy of being able to be their true selves, affirmations of femininity and nascent trans pride. This article begins with a brief discussion of mermaids in Western culture and media, followed by a more in-depth focus on the applicability of the mermaid as metaphor for understanding young transgirl experience, representation and feminine credentialing.
Galman, Sally Campbell, "ENCHANTED SELVES Transgender Children's Persistent use of Mermaid Imagery in Self-Portraiture" (2018). SHIMA-THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RESEARCH INTO ISLAND CULTURES. 332.