During my research in my thesis (2011) I found there to be two categories of liminality. One is a temporal phase such as in a rite of passage and the other is a more permanent state. As a temporal phase, liminality is “diachronic” which means it is “a segment within a span of time, preceded by the segment separation and followed by the segment reintegration” (Stein, 1983, p. 47). As a permanent state, liminality is seen as “synchronic”—a layer of the psyche that is always present.
Initially referenced as the middle stage of ritual by anthropologist Victor Turner (1969), liminality is experienced during a relatively brief period when ritual participants stand at a threshold between the old way of being and the new. During this liminal period, participants are stripped of their social status and experience a sense of ambiguity or disorientation.
In writing my master’s thesis on finding wholeness as a biracial woman (Enders, 2011), I discovered that participants’ experience during the liminal phase resonated with the daily experience of those who are multiethnic, genderqueer, bisexual, and/or intersex. In a world that prefers binary identity, those whose identity lives in this in-between space feel pressure to claim one end of the polarity and reject the other. Rather than being a transitional space, the liminal is, for these individuals, a permanent home (Enders, 2011).