Gender identity development among transgender and gender nonconforming emerging adults: An intersectional approach

L. E. Kuper, L. Wright, B. Mustanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: The present study used an intersectional framework to elucidate similarities and differences in the gender-related experiences reported by a diverse sample of transgender and gender nonconforming emerging adults (n = 20, age 19–22). The first aim was to identify dimensions of gender-related experience that captured how participants describe, relate to, and express their gender-related sense of self. The second aim was to identify intrapersonal processes that supported the development of participants' gender-related sense of self across these dimensions. Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted and data was analyzed using an inductive process of constructivist grounded theory. Results: Dimensions of gender-related experience included gender identity (e.g., internal sense of one's gender, how one wishes others to perceive their gender, gender identity labels), gender presentation (e.g., clothing, make-up, style), gender expression (e.g., role in relationships and interactions, interests/activities, personality), and physical self-image (e.g., desired primary and secondary sex characteristics). Intrapersonal processes included awareness, exploration, meaning making, and integration. Being able to fully express one's gender and having this sense of self accurately reflected back by others was important to all participants. However, much variation existed in gender-related experience, including how participants described their internal sense of self, expressed and communicated this sense of self, and related to others of similar and different genders. Conclusion: The intersectional approaches of both intercategorical and intracategorical complexity were useful in conceptualizing these similarities and differences in experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Transgenderism
StateAccepted/In press - Apr 12 2018


  • Gender development
  • gender identity
  • identity development
  • intersectionality
  • sexual orientation
  • transgender
  • transsexualism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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