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Queer women's experiences in public spaces

Noack-Lundberg, Kyja



Toula Nicolacopolous

Carol D’Cruz

Philipa Rothfield

Anastasia Powell


This dissertation draws on in-depth semi-structured interviews with fourteen queer and/or trans women to explore their experiences in public spaces. While there is a large body of work that focuses on women’s safety in public, not much research has been undertaken on queer and trans-identifying women’s safety. This thesis blends insights from feminist phenomenology, cultural geography and queer theory to explore factors structuring spatial and gendered or sexed experiences. Most interview participants experienced harassment or were subject to acts of violence. Themes surrounding safety and feelings of comfort and discomfort in public spaces emerged from the interview data. I argue that claiming public comfort for queer people provides a challenge to heterosexualised public norms. I claim that social positionalities or horizons shape queer women’s experiences in public spaces, their knowledges and what is sayable about their experiences. My use of experience as an analytical category applies the insights of feminist phenomenologists who argue that experience is interpreted via these social positionalities. I argue that these experiences do not merely happen on a random basis to individuals, but rather are structured by the norms that govern public space. These norms are strongly underpinned by the model of a private/public divide best elaborated in liberal political philosophies, in which the public individual is abstracted, and difference is confined to private spaces. The thesis provides evidence to confirm that those who do not fit in with these norms are often positioned as “out of place” or as not belonging. It will illuminate the processes through which femininity is policed in public spaces and examine the effect of social expectations of gender normativity. In line with these arguments, this thesis seeks to understand how neoliberalism and its associated responsibilising ethos influence queer women’s experiences in public spaces.


Noack-Lundberg, K. (2013). Queer women's experiences in public spaces. (Dissertation). La Trobe University. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Dissertation
Deposit Date Nov 28, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 4, 2024
Keywords Gender studies; Social sciences
Public URL
Additional Information Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
La Trobe University
Award Date Sep 11, 2013


Thesis (1.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© Kyja Noack-Lundberg 2013 . All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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