“What are you doing to me?”: animal agency during interviews with Australian trans young people and their animal companions

Damien W. Riggs, Heather Fraser, Nik Taylor, Shoshana Rosenberg

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Abstract

Too often when we think about agency, we think only about human actors. Increasingly, studies of animal-human relationships have explored the agency of animals who live alongside humans. This paper explores the agency of animals during interviews with trans young people and their families. A focus on the agency of animals is important in this context, given the unique meanings often attributed to animals by trans young people, who often experience the denial of their own agency. The data analysed in this paper constitute a subset of a larger sample of interviews with 17 trans young people and their families. The thematic analysis reported in this paper focuses on when animals were considered to show agency during video recordings, and what humans were saying during these portions of the recordings. Three forms of agency were identified: agency as affection, resistance, and proximity. The paper concludes by considering what it means to think about animal agency, what this means for trans young people, and more broadly what this means for research that seeks to involve animals.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
Early online date13 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Agency
  • animals
  • interactions
  • relationships
  • trans young people

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