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What happens when gender accountability is reduced? The experiences of non-binary and genderfluid people during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Amy L Stone,
  • Alexandra Gallin-Parisi
Amy L Stone
Trinity University, Trinity University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Alexandra Gallin-Parisi
Trinity University, Trinity University


How does gender accountability vary? We theorize that reduced perceptions by others of one's gender, or reduced external assessments of gender accountability, create more space for the cultivation of non-binary subjectivities. We use the shelter-in-place period of the COVID-19 pandemic as a natural experiment during which major social institutions such as work and school changed and thus shifted gender accountability. Through interviews with a racially diverse sample of 22 U.S. adults who came out as non-binary or genderfluid during this time period, we examine their experiences and understandings of this change in gender accountability. Participants described both relief from relentless gender assessments as well as space for selfreflection and gender experimentation. Less stringent external assessments at work and school, especially the reduction of constant in-person evaluations of gender expression, produced new gender subjectivities that resisted binary understandings of gender. This study explores the nuance and variability of gender accountability. We argue that in-person full-body gender assessments are a powerful component of gender accountability, and that some social institutions like work and education enforce gender accountability.
21 Feb 2024Submitted to Advance
22 Mar 2024Published in Advance