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date: 01 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics edited by John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman, and Carol Vernallis. This chapter discusses audiovisual communication and the construction of transgender subjectivity in the film Transamerica (dir. Duncan Tucker, 2005), which portrays a male-to-female transgender woman’s journey of self-discovery and parenthood while driving with a teenage son across America. Combining audiovisual analysis with queer and transgender studies, the film is interpreted as a queering—or more precisely, a transgendering—of the standard road movie format, adopted as the means of depicting the culmination of the protagonist’s gender transition. The analysis focuses on how the journey trope of transgenderness is constructed in the film music and sound. Special attention is devoted to the use of American country music to symbolize an identity in transition, the use of music encoded for ethnic identity to highlight transgender people’s social status and create a potentially progressive space of intersectionality and multiculturality, and gendered play in uses of the human voice.

Keywords: Transmerica, transgenderness, transgender studies, queer studies, film music, voice, identity, road movie, country music

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