Cute racist: on white trans women’s appropriative embodiment of East Asian aesthetics

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Emmy Claire Vaught (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Daniel Coleman

Abstract: This thesis investigates modes of white self-making that construct whiteness in relation to an East Asian other. In certain instances, the absorption of East Asian cultural practices into white transgender women’s gendered expressions extends beyond mere cultural appropriation. A problem rests instead in embodiment and self-making. I present the term “appropriative embodiment” to describe processes by which social groups, such as white trans women, make use of a privileged or majoritarian component of their identity, whiteness here, to ameliorate or better navigate oppression that stems from a minoritarian facet of their identity, transness and womanhood here. This thesis works from interviews with three distinct white trans women to explore the structure of appropriative embodiment as a co-construction of both whiteness and East Asian femininity through the white gaze. I question how and to what end white trans women make use of East Asian aesthetics and use these interviews as reference points for recognizing imperial legacies. This thesis views white trans women’s appropriative embodiment of East Asian aesthetics as a practice occurring within a white supremacist global structure.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
Cultural studies, Embodiment, Orientalism, Performativity, Queer, Transgender
Transgender women
Feminine beauty (Aesthetics)
Cultural appropriation

Email this document to