University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


Chantal Gratton


This paper examines how speakers from a non-binary community of practice located in the Greater Toronto Area make variable use of (ING) in order to construct non-binary transgender identities while navigating spaces that they experience as safe or non-safe. I explore how two central members of this community exhibit stronger variant preferences in non-queer spaces, as opposed to queer spaces, in order to create stances of resistance to cis-normative gender ideologies and index their non-binary identities. For this group, non-safe-spaces often require a degree of conscious identity work in order to avoid being misgendered as their gender-assigned-at-birth, an insight that was reflected in their linguistic production. By drawing together meta-commentary and patterns in (ING) production, I show how the safeness of a space is constituted in part through the constraints placed on non-binary speakers’ linguistic performances. This research provides a perspective on gender identity and its interaction with place by highlighting the importance of linguistic production in particular interactions.