What is Liminal Identity

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).


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