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‘This is how it works here’: the spatial deprioritisation of trans people within homelessness services in Wales

England, Edith 2022. ‘This is how it works here’: the spatial deprioritisation of trans people within homelessness services in Wales. Gender, Place and Culture 29 (6) , pp. 836-857. 10.1080/0966369X.2021.1896997

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Access to physically, psychologically, and emotionally safe spaces is of critical importance for those experiencing the stress and stigmatisation of homelessness. Nightshelters, hostels and day centres provide material resources and respite from dangerous, stigmatising, public space. Yet these spaces also reinscribe a binarised, essentialist understanding of gender by selectively permitting hegemonic masculine behaviours. Structural and economic inequalities translate to significantly elevated homelessness risks among trans people, yet trans people are often under-represented among homelessness service users. Based upon interviews with 28 trans people about their experiences of homelessness spaces, I argue that a hegemonic centring of masculinities results in the physical and emotional safety of trans people of all genders becoming deprioritised. While trans people were not excluded from hostels, trans identity was seen as presenting risk. Thus, trans people are not regarded as normative occupants in mainstream homelessness spaces. Trans people were routinely subject to intense surveillance, and it was trans people, not cis perpetrators, who were relocated when violence occurred. Further. staff tacitly condoned transphobic marginalisation by cis service-users: violence from cis men was understood as inevitable, and normalised, with trans people responsibilised for conducting themselves in space to avoid provoking attack. This research extends hegemonic masculinity by considering spatiality, specifically through attending to the tension between the perceived needs of homeless cis men and the consequent exclusion of trans people from homelessness services. It identifies some specific areas where provision might improve, yet cautions that this must also avoid further disempowerment of homeless trans people.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 0966-369X
Date of Acceptance: 4 February 2021
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2022 01:07

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