• Transgender Student Perceptions of Institutional Approaches that Facilitate Persistence and Graduation

      Mooring, Stephanie Ann; Tift College of Education
      The increased visibility of transgender students in higher education institutions highlights the need for institutions to recognize the types of barriers encountered by this student population in order to implement institutional approaches to help retain these students. As such, this study sought to understand the impact of institutional approaches on transgender students’ decisions to persist in college as well as how these students conceptualize their successful progression in their institutions. To explore the perceptions of transgender college students regarding their higher education experiences, the researcher conducted qualitative research using Tinto’s (1975, 1988) theory of student departure as the theoretical framework. The interviews of 13 participants were analyzed using thematic analysis methods, which resulted in two themes: Barriers Encountered by Students and Ability to Persist. Findings show that participants came to their institutions expecting to find an accepting and supportive environment; however, most participants were disappointed by the lack of adequate support resources provided by their institutions. To compensate for this lack of institutional support, participants took a do-it-yourself approach to constructing their own support systems. The findings of this study identify improper pronoun usage, the attitudes and lack of trans competency of faculty and staff, inadequate counseling centers, trans incompetent LGBT groups, and a lack of transgender programming events as barriers that participants encountered at their higher education institutions. The findings also indicate that institutions can better serve this student population by hiring transgender faculty and staff, making the campus community more trans competent through educational programming, and providing safe access to physical spaces and adequate support. Recommendations for future research include examining how institutions evaluate their transgender student supports, exploring the thoughts and attitudes of professors toward sexual minority students, comparing different pronoun use protocols as well as faculty and student perceptions of each method, and exploring the attitudes of cisgender college students toward their transgender peers.