Date of Award

8-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Brent Mallinckrodt

Committee Members

Joe Miles, Dawn Syzmanski, Lynn Sacco

Abstract

The current study explored attitudes of transgender people about being transgender and how these attitudes had formed and changed over participants’ lifetimes. Using a qualitative, grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2003), interviews with 11 transgender adults were coded and analyzed. Two primary categories of attitudes were identified: participant attitudes regarding acceptability of being transgender and attitudes regarding how possible they believed it is to be transgender and/or transition genders. Early in life, most participants had little exposure to the idea of being transgender, and those that knew of it often initially believed that it would too difficult or impossible to transition. Many also believed they would be rejected by others if they did transition. However, after periods of introspection and experiences of acceptance by cisgender people and other transgender people, these attitudes often changed. Participants began to have more dynamic views of gender, to experience more acceptance of their own gender identities, and to often appreciate aspects of being transgender. Implications of the study include fostering more acceptance for diverse gender identities and expressions from a young age, creating space for individuals to self-determine with unconditional acceptance, and promoting more positive examples of transgender people (not just as they transition but long after) in media and activism.

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