A Study of Gender Dysphoria and Fluidity of Fixed Gender Positions in David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl

  • Kawish Pervaiz Department of English Literature, Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore, Pakistan


This paper aims to highlight the performative aspects of gender in David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl by exploring gender dysphoria, internalized heterosexuality, and gender polarity. The thesis examines the relationship of gender with sexuality and how the fixation of one fixates the other and leads to gender dysphoria. It revolves around the characters experiencing and exploring identity transformation by rejecting the socially constructed identity politics. While gender and sexuality is explored by researchers, this research analyzes and sheds light upon the queer facets of feminine and masculine gender identities. Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble is used as the theoretical framework for this research. This approach investigates the institutionalized heteronormativity and the stigma attached to gender fluidity. Future researchers can probe Queer literature, Women’s studies, and Gender studies to examine the politics of gender roles and sexuality or to lead an interdisciplinary research.


1. Bem, S. L. (1983). Gender schema theory and its implications for child development: Raising gender-aschematic children in a gender-schematic society. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 8(4), 598–616. https://doi.org/10.1086/493998
2. Butler, J. (1988). Performative acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory. Theatre Journal, 40(4), 519. https://doi.org/10.2307/3207893
3. Chiang, H. H.-H. (2007). Epistemic Gender, Sex Beyond the Flesh: Science, Medicine, and the Two-Sex Model in Modern America Howard Hsueh-Hao Chiang. Gender: Power and Authority, (9). https://doi.org/https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_41212_smxx.pdf
4. Culler, J. (2011). Literary theory. https://doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780199691340.001.0001
5. Ebershoff, D. (2016). The Danish girl. Giunti.
6. Fausto-Sterling, A. (1993). The five sexes. The Sciences, 33(2), 20–24. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2326-1951.1993.tb03081.x
7. Garber, M. B. (1992). Vested interests: Cross-dressing and cultural anxiety. Feminist Review, (43), 100. https://doi.org/10.2307/1395077
8. Goffman, E. (1976). Gender display. Gender Advertisements, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-16079-2_1
9. Jackson, S. (2006). Gender, sexuality, and heterosexuality: The Complexity (and limits) of Heteronormativity. Feminist Theory, 7(1), 105–121. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464700106061462
10. King, A. (2004). The Prisoner of Gender: Foucault and the Disciplining of the Female Body. Journal of International Women's Studies, 5(2), 29-39. https://doi.org/https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol5/iss2/4/
11. LAQUEUR, T. (1992). Making sex - body and gender from the greeks to freud. Harvard UP.
12. Laws, A. (2019). Gender dysphoria: Psychological factors. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Abnormal and Clinical Psychology. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781483365817.n624
13. MacKinnon, C. A. (1980). Sexual harassment of working women: A case of sex discrimination. Columbia Law Review, 80(8), 1686. https://doi.org/10.2307/1122289
14. McKenna, W., & Kessler, S. (2006). Transgendering: Blurring the boundaries of gender. Handbook of Gender and Women's Studies, 342–355. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781848608023.n20
15. Poe, D. (2011). Can Luce Irigaray’s Notion of Sexual Difference be Applied to Transsexual and Transgender Narratives? ECommons University of Dayton. https://doi.org/ http://ecommons.udayton.edu/phl_fac_pub
16. Rich, A. (1980). Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 5(4), 631–660. https://doi.org/10.1086/493756
17. Sanders, A. M., & Mathis, J. B. (2013). Gay and lesbian literature in the classroom: can gay themes overcome heteronormativity? Journal of Praxis in Multicultural Education, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.9741/2161-2978.1067
18. WEST, C. A. N. D. A. C. E., & ZIMMERMAN, D. O. N. H. (1998). Doing gender. Gender & Society, 1(2), 125–151. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243287001002002
How to Cite
PERVAIZ, Kawish. A Study of Gender Dysphoria and Fluidity of Fixed Gender Positions in David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl. International Journal of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education, [S.l.], v. 6, n. 1, p. 22-38, june 2022. ISSN 2521-0041. Available at: <http://www.ijsshe.com/index.php/ijsshe/article/view/214>. Date accessed: 09 june 2023.