Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Psychology) Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Science

Faculty

Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Dr Bronwyn Harman

Abstract

Social structures assume a binary classification of gender whereby people are expected to accept the female or male gender expectations and gender roles commonly associated with their biological sex. However, gender identity and gender expression are personal experiences which do not necessarily align with the sex assigned to a person at birth. Young adults who identify as trans resist the predictable relationships and boundaries of sex and gender by embracing diverse gender identities and expressions. Research acknowledging more favourable life experiences of trans youth is limited, despite the importance of a sound knowledge base necessary to provide a positive and affirmative environment within clinical practice. The lived experiences of trans youth was explored using an interpretative phenomenological framework to understand the personal meanings of the participants’ world view in relation to positive experiences. Ten participants between the ages of 18 and 24 years were interviewed, guided by a semi-structured interview schedule. Thematic analysis was conducted to find repeated patterns of meaning amongst the interview transcripts. Three overarching themes were identified and discussed: (1) identity validation, (2) a desire to speak out, and (3) identifying evidence of social change. Implications and future directions were discussed in light of contemporary media use to facilitate affirmative practices and for practitioners to heighten their awareness of the significance of gender in their own lives.

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