Trans People in the Workplace: Possibilities for Subverting Heteronormativity

David Watson*, Angelo Benozzo, Roberta Fida

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores possible subversions of heteronormativity through transgender performativity in the workplace. Drawing on insights from Judith Butler we focus on how employees construct (un)intelligible subject positions that can create ‘moments’ of subversion, which go against the disciplinary, powerful and normative gender binary. We explore this possibility through an analysis of qualitative material generated through encounters with 11 Italian trans workers. Our analysis shows that subversion manifests in diverse ways according to how individual performativities combine with organisational context. Within this diversity we highlight three moments of subversion: subversion through intrigue; subversion through incongruence; and subversion through betrayal. We argue that where transgender identity contrasts strongly with gender norms, subversion is most intense. The subversion of strongly heteronormative working contexts is difficult as moments of subversion are unpredictable, varied and can come at personal cost, but are necessary in order to accommodate different gender identities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Early online date15 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Mar 2023


  • gender performativity
  • heteronormativity
  • heterosexual matrix
  • Judith Butler
  • subversion
  • trans people


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