“Trans Enough?” The Pressures Trans Men Negotiate in Higher Education
Catalano, D. Chase J.
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Despite increasing attention on issues raised by trans students in higher education, almost no empirical research has examined the identities and experiences of trans students as a group, or of specific subsets of trans students. In this article, I draw on interviews with twenty-five trans-male undergraduate students to explore how their experiences of coming to understand their gender identities are shaped by their experiences in higher education. I show how participants’ concerns about being “trans enough” highlight contradictions within identity discourses of and about trans men, and how their narratives often rely on a medical model or “wrong body” discourse, even while students critique that model. Participants described expending significant energy navigating conflicting demands from other trans men, from other peers, and from their undergraduate institutions, in ways that often overshadowed their own desires and internal senses of identity. Institutions should support further research to explore the experiences and needs of trans men and other trans students, while implementing known best practices to become more trans-inclusive campuses.