Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Angela Moe

Second Advisor

Dr. David Hartmann

Third Advisor

Dr. Melinda McCormick

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Zoann Snyder


Trans* marginalization, trans* representation, homonormativity, trans* precarity, visibly trans*


The LGBTQ+ community is commonly perceived as homogenous, affluent, and inclusive. Despite these perceptions, there is substantial evidence to suggest that trans* people, particularly those of color, experience greater levels of marginalization and precarity than gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. The purpose of this phenomenological study is to develop an understanding of how trans* people experience and navigate various forms of marginalization, precarity, and distorted public representation by implementing an intersectional framework and a transfeminist methodology. Semi-structured interviews were used to document the experiences of 34 trans* participants, ranging in age from 20-55 years. Constructed grounded theory analysis was used to explore their intersectionally complex experiences of marginalization, precarity, representation, and navigation. Participants described their marginalization at both personal and systemic levels, implicating institutional barriers in infrastructure, institutional practices, public policy, healthcare systems, and employments sectors. In addition, participants experienced precarity, both social and economic, that they attributed to their gender identities. Participants with multiple marginalized identities described more nuanced experiences with marginalization that they associated with their race, ethnicity, disability, status within the LGBTQ+ community, and their ability to pass as their intended gender. Representations of trans* identities were characterized by participants as primarily negative, but they also offered examples of positive and trans* affirming representations. Participants’ accounts of how they navigated their adverse experiences associated with their trans* identities reflected strategies that demonstrated agency and a capacity for resilience. These participants’ experiences provide strong evidence that significant systemic change is needed to dismantle transphobic institutional barriers in our public policy, institutional practices, and corporate sectors. These findings also demonstrate the importance of centering diverse trans* voices and experiences in this important work.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access