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Gender, Intimacies and Sexuality

How do people practice, experience and embody citizenship and governance in their intimate lives and relationships? How do gender and sexuality become known to us individually and recognised by others, in different social and geo-temporal contexts? How are the most supposedly personal aspects of our lives, such as intimacy and sex, governed through public laws and social policies as well as through internalised societal norms? To what extent do shifts in the local, national and global landscape shape how, where and when we relate to one another?

Gender, Intimacies and Sexuality (GENIES) brings together an interdisciplinary group of cis, trans and non-binary researchers whose interests probe how public and private spheres intersect and separate.  In doing so, we bring together the macro and micro dimensions of citizenship and governance, illustrating how the personal is profoundly political, at every level and across sexual and gender diversity.

At the heart of contemporary citizenship and governance lies a range of expectations, rights, responsibilities and prohibitions that directly impinge on bodies and relationships, such as reproductive rights, universal health care and same-sex marriage.  Embedded in regulation and legislation are norms about the acceptability and form of sexual and gender identities, intimacy and personal relationships, generational divisions, health and ill-health, legitimate and 'risky' lifestyles.  Deeply racialized markers of 'civilization' and 'otherness' are associated with certain bodily appearances as well as gender norms; here, gender, sexuality and power intersect.

Sexualised identities and understandings of consent are also enmeshed in relations of power.  Sexual regulation and social mores render certain forms of sex and intimacy legitimate, outside 'the norm' or illegal.  Power relations are adversely enacted through sexual violence, sexual harassment, human trafficking and sexual exploitation.  Biomedical and governmental processes interact to concretise norms around sexual identities and sexual citizenship.  Discrimination and structural vulnerability are often left unaddressed, disproportionately leading to homelessness and modern slavery which adversely and disproportionately impact on different groups, such as LGBTQ+ people.

Global research consistently shows that despite growing social tolerance, trans, non-binary and genderqueer people still regularly experience discrimination, intimidation, abuse or violence.  In over 20 EU countries, residents must get sterilised before being granted legal recognition of their gender.  A recent UK study showed that 41% of trans people reported attempting suicide compared to less than 2% of the general population, and suicide rates further increased when additional 'stressors' are present, such as fear of discrimination as well as fear of parental rejection for young trans and queer people.

GENIES runs workshops and seminars on gender, intimacy and sexuality that engage with research, methodological innovation, advocacy and activism.  To join the GENIES mailing list, please email michelle.stevens@open.ac.uk.

GENIES supports the Gender Inclusion Network (GIN) hosted by Professor Sally Hines at the University of Sheffield sally.hines@sheffield.ac.uk

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