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Identity Development Among Racially Diverse Transgender and Similarly Gender Nonconforming LGB Youth

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posted on 09.12.2012, 00:00 authored by Laura E. Kuper
Several distinct yet overlapping literatures have contributed to understanding the trajectories of gender nonconforming children. However, these often fail to adequately distinguish the experiences of those who share similar experiences of childhood gender nonconformity, but come to self-identify in various ways. To address this gap, transgender identifying youth were matched with non-transgender identifying youth of similar levels of childhood gender nonconformity (N=20, ages 19 to 23, 75% racial/ethnic minority), and developmental semi-structured interviews were conducted. Qualitative data analysis was guided by an ecological framework, which identified the characteristics of the youth’s self-understandings (identity, physical self, self presentation, interests/activities, attractions/behavior) and the settings (e.g., school, family, community centers, media) that they interactively negotiated throughout development. Focus on the self codes revealed multiple related, distinct, and interactive dimensions of gender and sexuality, which also changed over time. These dimensions will be discussed, along with the similarities and differences found across birth sex (male, female) and current gender identity (transgender, primarily non-transgender). Overall, results highlight the complexity and diversity of experience within the transgender umbrella. They also reinforce the importance of youth’s exposure to a range of ways of making meaning of one’s gender and sexual orientation related experiences, and support a move away from disorder based models of gender variance to those that focus on the supportiveness of the context.



Birman, Dina



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University of Illinois at Chicago

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