Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program

Speech Communication


Pensoneau-Conway, Sandy


This research report focuses on the author’s narrative in understanding her transgender identity through her relationship with mirrors and reflective objects. The author argues gender is not inherently located within biology or the body, and society’s misperception of gender norms creates gender dysphoria for transgender people. The gender dysphoria is then phenomenologically understood while gazing upon the reflection in the mirror. Using an autoethnographic approach, the author recalls painful memories of her journey to understand gender as a performative experience that does not rely on anatomy limitations. She draws upon research from performative scholars to further her argument that everyday acts, materiality, and the idea of play are all factors in creating a gender identity. Lastly, the author showcases the importance of using narrative-based learning to further comprehend the lived experiences of transgender people and the nuances that gender invites all of us to embrace.