Embodying place and class habitus: passing practices of male-to-female cross-dressers in Hong Kong

Day Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


To obtain a nuanced understanding of body transgendering, I draw on a Bourdieusian theory of practice to examine the interplay between habitus and capital, which enables a focus on both the conscious aspects of capital accumulation and the unconscious aspects of the class habitus that underpin passing practices. Specifically, I propose a place-sensitive approach to examine how the making of transgender space embodies the broader socio-spatial polarization which offers different possibilities for transgender individuals in different social locations. Based on an ethnographic study conducted from 2012 to 2018, I focus on Chinese cross-dressers’ place-making in Hong Kong and its fundamental relation with transgender embodiment and practices. Independent of the use of hormone replacement and surgeries, the passing practices of these cross-dressers demonstrate creativity and reflexivity in the development of body techniques and appropriation of city space. I argue that attention to the roles of place and class habitus complicates our theoretical understanding of gender passing by highlighting the complex processes of negotiation and investment, as well as the materiality and spatiality of particular passing practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-560
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number5
Early online date24 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • body
  • cosmopolitan
  • habitus
  • queer space
  • Transgender


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