The disclosure experiences of male to female transgender individuals: A systems theory perspective

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Virginia Tech


Whereas sex is a classification that is expected to remain consistent and stable over time, gender is more fluid and changes depending on one's culture, within culture, and in relation to the other gender. Our society suggests that all individuals fall neatly into one of two sex and gender categories; however there exists an entire community of individuals who, in fact, do not. Transgender individuals "express their gender in non-traditional ways and find their sense of self as female, male, or other to be in conflict with their assigned gender role" (Burdge, 2007, p.244). Disclosing as transgendered is a process of emergence that is not only an internal psychological process but is also a "relational and systemic dynamic that intimately involves family, friends, loved ones, and all social relationships" (Lev, 2005, p. 11). In this study, the disclosure experiences of male to female transgender individuals as well as the changes and adjustments that occurred in their relationships were explored through individual interviews. Thematic coding was used to analyze the data and identify themes in the disclosure experiences. Considering the experience from a systemic perspective, participants discussed the mutual impact of their disclosure on family, friends, acquaintances as well as greater systems including the medical field, mental health field, and other community agencies.



transsexual, coming out, LGBT, sexual minorities