Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students’ Perceptions of Risk and Protective Factors That Affect Their College Experience
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AuthorPollard , Richard D.
Higher education administration
gender identity, gender-nonconforming, LGBTQIA+, nonbinary, student affairs, Transgender
College of Education
MetadataShow full item record
TitleTransgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students’ Perceptions of Risk and Protective Factors That Affect Their College Experience
AbstractThe stigma and daily distress routinely experienced by transgender and nonbinary (TGNB) individuals negatively disturb their safety, mental stability, physical health, school success, employment opportunities, and societal inclusion, resulting in systematic marginalization and isolation in a variety of settings, including families, schools, and employment (Azeem et al., 2019; Budge & Katz-Wise, 2019; Lerner, 2019; Murchison et al., 2019; Sevlever & Meyer-Bahlburg, 2019). This phenomenological study aimed to explore the higher education experiences of TGNB students to gain insight into self-identified factors associated with their academic success and college completion. Using snowball and chain sampling techniques for recruitment, the researcher recruited 8 participants. All participants self-identified as TGNB, were over the age of 18, and had either graduated or dropped out of higher education within the previous five years. The researcher employed semi-structured interviews, and data collection was completed via HIPAA-compliant Zoom videotelephony. The researcher used an audit trail, a reflexivity journal, member checking, and detailed, thick descriptions to ensure trustworthiness. Following the steps outlined by Smith, et al. (2009), the researcher discovered six subordinate themes: (1) "Exploration and self-education for gender identity determination," (2) "Anticipated Resistance: The struggles of daily college life for TGNB students," (3) "Intolerance and injustice just to be me, (4) Internal and external factors of loss and growth," (5) "Human pillars on the campus to create belonging for TGNB students," and (6) "Transferring the responsibility of survival to one's self." These six emergent themes provided insight into how the participants navigated their gender identity during their higher education experiences. Each participant was persistent in doing what was necessary individually to move forward, which was evident in this study. The one participant that did not graduate indicated their desire to return to higher education. Future research recommendations include: 1) A need for better understanding includes more comprehension of the connectedness of TGNB students on campuses to buffer isolation and promote wellness among the TGNB student population, 2) A case study for a college that works well with TGNB students, and 3) additional research should study TGNB assigned males to understand better the differences in their experiences in the higher education environment.