Since the early 1990s, non-heteronormative masculinities have gained a certain degree of acceptance in Irish society. The years preceding and following the decriminalistaion of homosexuality in 1993 saw an increase in the representation of homosexual identities in Ireland and a concomitant questioning of dominant definitions of Irish masculinity. Representations of trans identities and characters constitute a significant part of those questionings, trans identities prompting and facilitating a rethinking of fixed categories both of gender and of national identity, given the gendering of national(ist) discourse and its historical relationship to Catholic teaching on sexuality and sexual identity in Ireland.
Representations of trans figures in
an Irish context feature most notably in Neil Jordan's 1993 film The Crying Game and in Pat McCabe s 1998 novel Breakfast on Pluto and in its later cinematic adaptation by Jordan. Both of these works, which have received a good deal of critical attention, are explored here vis-à-vis their critical explorations of gender and sexual ambiguities in the context of Irish identity.
The work of Jordan and McCabe aside,
representations and performances of trans identities and characters in Ireland
have been primarily located within theatrical and cabaret drag performances produced within the gay community. While there can be distinctions between the articulation of trans identities and the practice of drag, both have the potential to disrupt and destabilise fixed gender dichotomies and to raise questions regarding heteronormative hierarchies of identity. This essay examines
the practice of drag, particularly within the Alternative Miss Ireland Contest, as both performative and political strategy, examining whether the performance of drag in can be seen to critically intervene in discourses on gender, sexuality and national identity.