Trans Athletic Movements in Performance, Fiction, and Social Media

  • Author / Creator
    Horvat, Ana
  • This project looks at how athletic movements borrowed from exercise translate into performance and social media settings mediated through trans bodies, affects, and politics. Trans artists turn to exercise for personal transformation of the body and bring those movements and their accompanying affects on stage in order to perform trans bodies as agentive and generative. The pleasure of personal transformation shifts into a desire to critique the ways trans bodies are regulated, to build community with audiences, and to encourage audiences to become participants. Trans athletic movements can be categorized into three main types: violent, cyclical, and magnetic clusters. In their two performance art pieces, Cassils takes the violent movements of Muay Thai and fight choreography and directs them towards moulding other bodies — clay and an invisible opponent. For Cassils, the violence of the movements represents a simultaneous creation and destruction, a desire to defeat the regulatory powers that shape trans bodies and create new ways to shape and to memorialize those who have been regulated into non-existence. For Nina Arsenault and Lynn Breedlove, the athletic movements of choice are the cyclical movements of the bike pedals. Focusing more on the potential of repetition and speed to trigger a transcendental experience of connection with the world and with one’s emotions, the artists oriented towards bikes harness the cyclicality of movement as form of self-exploration of trans bodies not related to dysphoria but to euphoria. In the move from stage to social media, micha cárdenas, Chase Ross, and Alexandria Gutierrez perform athletic movements of CrossFit, running, and BeachBody, respectively, through Instagram images or YouTube videos. While cárdenas and Gutierrez frame their fitness in accordance within the category of #fitspo, cárdenas troubles that framework by juxtaposing fitness images with captions advocating trans activism through physical fitness. Ross, on the other hand, presents his running stories as ways of maintaining mental well-being in the trans community.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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