Being transgender: Navigating minority stressors and developing authentic self-presentation

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In this interview-based study, we investigated the common social experiences and minority stressors related to beingtransgender. It is one of two articles that resulted from a grounded theory analysis of interviews with 17 participants who claimed a variety of transgender identities (e.g., cross-dresser, transman, transwoman, butch lesbian) and were from different regions in the United States. The interview was centered on how participants’ identities influenced their lives across different interpersonal contexts. Participants described developing a more complex understanding of gender because of the effect of their transgender status on others and the need to modify their gender presentation at times to secure their safety. In the workplace, their gender could overshadow their competence and, in the age of social media, was always at risk of becoming public. Seeking social support could be dangerous, and the process of transitioning was found to make safe spaces especially elusive. Also, open communication about sex and gender was found to be particularly important within successful intimate relationships. Our findings emphasized the tensions between a need to be respected and valued for oneself and one’s abilities with a need to mitigate the very real dangers of being visible or out as transgender in different contexts. Our research can be used to enhance health professionals’ understandings of transgender people’s life experiences, to identify salientminority stressors for further research exploration, and to advance advocacy.


Psychology of Women Quarterly