Transgender idol: Queer subjectivities and Australian reality TV

McIntyre, Joanna (2016) Transgender idol: Queer subjectivities and Australian reality TV. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 20 1: 87-103. doi:10.1177/1367549416640535

Author McIntyre, Joanna
Title Transgender idol: Queer subjectivities and Australian reality TV
Journal name European Journal of Cultural Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1367-5494
Publication date 2016-04-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/1367549416640535
Volume 20
Issue 1
Start page 87
End page 103
Total pages 17
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Transgender is a marginalised category to which reality TV has given visibility, yet it is usually overlooked in observations regarding the minority groups that have gained mainstream representation through these programmes. Popular Australian reality TV shows have provided a unique space for the constructive representation of certain queer subjectivities. The Australian reality TV contestants in question present gendering that embraces ambiguity, that is, they demonstrate the deliberate disruption and blurring of gender/sex category divisions. This article examines the ways in which Australian reality TV’s representations of transgender contestants remain robustly queer while also being negotiated and made palatable for ‘family’ television audiences. It asserts the reality TV shows that feature transgender performance orchestrate a balance between queer expression and its containment. This article also takes as a case study a particularly successful Australian transgender reality TV contestant, Courtney Act. It argues Act’s representation of queerness was ‘managed’ within the normative framework of mainstream television yet she is still significantly troubled by gender binaries during her time on Australian screen. In 2014, she appeared as a contestant on the United States’ queer-themed reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race and again proved to be a reality TV success. This transnational intersection of transgender performance signalled the productive possibilities of international cross-pollination in regard to affirmative reality TV representations of marginalised subjectivities. At the same time, however, it also revealed the localised nature of reality TV, even in those shows with an international queer appeal.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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Created: Mon, 30 Mar 2015, 20:08:38 EST by Ms Stormy Wehi on behalf of School of Communication and Arts