Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Caringella


This study investigates the challenges imposed on transgender individuals and their significant others as a result of the deviant labels that have been used to stigmatize non-traditional expressions of gender. Using webbased surveys and an on-line focus group, the themes of language and its limitations, psychological trauma, and social challenges are explored and analyzed using discourse analysis. With a total of 311 subjects, 254 transgender individuals and 57 significant others, this research challenges the utility of gendered language as it is currently constituted, addresses the importance of significant others in understanding the transgender experience, and identifies the various social, psychological and economic needs of transgender couples living in today's world.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access